San Francisco 49ers – 37 Green Bay Packers – 20
If you’d like to know exactly how dominant San Francisco was in this game, you don’t need to look at the final score, Aaron Rodgers created some late game magic with three consecutive touchdowns in the second half to draw closer. The only numbers you need to understand are eight and twenty-nine. Those are the tallies of pass attempts by Jimmy Garoppolo and rush attempts of Raheem Mostert, respectively. No. I didn’t reverse the order. The 49ers quarterback attempted eight passes all night long, and Mostert, well, he just mauled the Packers for more yardage in a playoff game (220) than any rusher in history, save one…Eric Dickerson (248 yards, way back in 1986).
Seriously, this thing was never close.
The 49ers amassed twenty-seven points before halftime, while the Packers amassed four punts, a fumble and an interception. At the end of the game, San Francisco averaged more yards per play, despite throwing for over two hundred fewer yards, 296 to 69. Think about that for a moment, because it’s kind of crazy. Add on to that the fact that despite San Francisco’s rush heavy attack, Green Bay actually held the ball for more of the game. Raheem Mostert averaged a whopping 7.6 yards per attempt on his twenty-nine carries… averaged? Seriously?
What about Aaron Rodgers? He only averaged 8.35 yards per attempt PASSING. And a lot of that was more or less garbage time. It’s a bad ending to a surprisingly good year for Green Bay and the cheese heads.
On the plus side, Aaron Rodgers stayed (mostly) healthy, something that can’t be said for his last few campaigns. If they can shore up that run defense with a few big bodies and a sideline to sideline tackler this offseason, the Pack might be able to make another run. If A-Rod stays on board. And that might not be a sure thing. Rodgers is now thirty-six, and that’s the age when most (ignore Brady and Brees) NFL quarterbacks start having serious statistical decline and injury issues. Given Rodgers history with the injury bug, I harbor suspicions that he’s a candidate for a surprise retirement following this season.
Despite the loss, he’s got to be elated to have gotten the Pack back to the NFC Championship this season. It might be as bright a moment for a swan song as he can expect. But the result of that game can’t sit too well, can it?
Put simply, the 49ers owned the Packers all night long. There’s something telling about paying a quarterback just under thirty million dollars per year and then just not needing him to throw the ball. That was Jimmy G’s role on Sunday, shepherding his teammates up and down the field, throwing far more high-fives than passes in the rout.
So, the stage is set for the Super Bowl. Will Jimmy G and that 49ers offense bring enough heat to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs? It’s a good question. Let’s all talk about that incessantly for the next ten days or so…
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images