by Steve Megarzy ap sports writer
Aaron Rodgers understands that time is running out on his hopes of winning a second Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers.
The 38-year-old quarterback’s latest postseason run begins Saturday night as he tries to beat a team that has three times served as MVP’s biggest playoff nemesis.
Rodgers holds a 0–3 playoff record against the San Francisco 49ers, although he has beaten them in the regular season over the past two years. The top-seeded Packers (13-4) and 49ers (11-7) face each other again in an NFC divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.
“I think football mortality is something that we all think about,” Rodgers said. “And we all think about how many opportunities we’ll have to move forward, and each one is special.”
Since the 3-5 start, the 49ers have shown a habit of going away from home, winning eight out of 10. They rallied to a 17–0 deficit to win the overtime road game against the Rams and then took a 23–17 wild-card win against the Cowboys in Dallas.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo says San Francisco’s slow start prompted the 49ers to adopt a premature playoff mentality.
“Putting pressure on your team early on, it creates a mindset,” Garoppolo said. “It creates an atmosphere of a sense of urgency in the locker room that we have yet to win over and we have some drama to do.”
The Packers defeated the 49ers, 30–28, on the road back on September 26, erasing a 17–0 deficit with the 49ers taking a last-minute lead before Rodgers took Green Bay to Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field position. delivered in. Target when time runs out. The Packers also beat the 49ers, 34-17, on the road last season.
But the 49ers can count on their successful post-season history against the Rodgers Packers, including a 37-20 win in the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago.
“It’s a special occasion,” Rogers said. “We’re not going to make it bigger than this. We’ve made it very level-headed and de-escalated while not riding the roller coaster of emotions and we’re going to keep doing the same thing. So if it’s going to take us that far. Good enough for us, then good enough to take us beyond this point.”
Deebo Samuel has added another role to his do-everything season.
The dynamic receiver and sprinter showed off his forecasting skills last week. After San Francisco intercepted a pass, Samuel asked coach Kyle Shanahan to get him the ball and he would score. Shanahan called for a handoff on the next play, and Samuel took it for a touchdown from 26 yards.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never, ever been around a football player who called his shot,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. “I enter basketball, but when you’re playing with 22 people, 11 of them are trying to deal with every ounce you have. And you just say, ‘Oh yeah, me Give the ball, I’m going to put the ball in the box,’ and for him to do that, it was a special moment that only a special player could accomplish.
Samuel has 1,880 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns including playoffs this season.
to be disciplined
Green Bay’s most obvious concern is slowing down the 49ers’ rapid attack. Eliza Mitchell and Samuel ran for 168 yards against the Cowboys.
The Packers say they should also see which linebacker D’Vondre Campbell called “eye candy.” Campbell was referring to the various innings and pre-snap motions that Shanahan uses to misjudge defenders.
“The way he designs his plays, the paces, and all the different kinds of innings and all that sort of thing, he gets lost in the eyes of everyone,” said Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clarke, a former UCLA standout . “So if your eye is in the wrong place, if you’re not doing your job or doing what you’ve been trained to do, he can take advantage of it.”
Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and cornerback Jair Alexander (shoulder) are suspects and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) are suspects. The Packers are expected to come back from injuries to wide receiver Randall Cobb (core) and offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee), which ruled them out for the latter part of the regular season.
49th defensive end Nick Bossa (concussion), cornerback Embry Thomas (knee) and defensive end Jordan Willis (ankle) are suspects. Bosa has been released from concussion protocol.
Green Bay’s Davante Adams caught 12 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ regular-season win over the 49ers.
San Francisco are now stronger in the secondary than they were in September thanks to Thomas’ emergence late in the season, but defensive coordinator Demeko Ryan knows slowing Adams down will be a long task.
“They make it difficult because they do a great job of moving Davante around,” Ryan said. “He doesn’t stay in one place. He can move into slots. He can play outside. He’s everywhere.”
Green Bay is forecast for Saturday with a maximum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 7 degrees, although there is no chance of snow.
49ERS (11-7) AT PACKERS (13-4)
When: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
TV / Radio: Fox (Chapter 11), 1150 AM
starting line: Packers Buy 6 according to FanDuel Sportsbook
Against spread: 49ers 10-8; Packers 12-5
Series record: Packers Lead 38-32-1
last meeting: The Packers won 30–28 in Santa Clara on September 26.
Last week: The 49ers won 23-17 in Dallas on Sunday; The Packers received a bye after losing 37–30 to the Lions in their regular season finale.
49ers Offenses: Overall (7), Rush (7), Pass (12), Scoring (13-T).
49ers Defense: Overall (3), Rush (6), Pass (6), Scoring (8).
Packers Offenses: Overall (9), Rush (21), Pass (11), Scoring (13).
Packers Defense: Overall (9), Rush (12), Pass (9), Scoring (13).
Turnover difference: 49ers minus -4; Packers Plus-13
49 players to watch: Samuel. He had 52 yards from scrimmage in an All-Pro wideout against the Packers in September—including a run of zero yards—but he has since emerged as a multi-purpose threat. He had 1,405 yards, 365 yards to run and 14 total touchdowns in the regular season. Samuel ran for 72 yards and toucheddowns on 10 carries and took three catches for 38 yards against Dallas.
Packers Players to watch: Rogers. He threw 20 touchdown passes without a hitch in his last seven games to emerge as the favorite to win his fourth MVP award. He now has a chance to improve on his 11-9 playoff record as a starter, which includes 0-3 points against the 49ers.
Major Matches: Packers OT David Bakhtiari vs 49ers DE Nick Bosa. It is based on the assumption that Bakhtiyari actually plays. 2020 All-Pro Bakhtiari tore his anterior cruciate ligament on December 31, 2020, and finally returned to action playing 27 snaps in the Packers’ regular-season finale. He is listed as a suspect for Saturday’s game. The Packers have been wary of him in practice for the past few weeks. Bossa, who recorded 15½ sacks during the regular season, sustained an injury against Dallas. Bossa has 4½ sacks in four playoff games of his career. Bossa was dropped from the 49ers’ injury report on Friday after the injury protocol was cleared.
Major Injuries: CB Embry Thomas (knee) and DE Jordan Willis (ankle) are all suspects for 49. … QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder, thumb) and LB Fred Warner are set to play despite dealing with injuries. … Bakhtiari (knee) and CB Jair Alexander (shoulder) are suspects and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) are suspects. … Packers ot Billy Turner (knee), WR Randall Cobb (core) and OLB Za’Darius Smith (back) and Whitney Mersillas (biceps) are expected to return from injuries on Saturday. … Packers TE Robert Tonian and OL Elgaton Jenkins are out for the season with knee injuries.
Series Note: The Packers and 49ers have split the last eight playoff matchups. The 49ers have won meetings since the last three seasons, including a 37–20 victory in the NFC Championship game two seasons ago. … the 49ers have hosted the Packers in the regular season in each of the last three years. The Packers won 30-28 on Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal this year and 34-17 last season. The 49ers won in 2019, 37-8, … This is the first time the Packers and 49ers have faced off at Lambeau Field since the Packers won, 33-30, October 15, 2018.
Stats and stuff: The winner of this game faces either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers will play the NFC Championship game at home, while the 49ers will head back on the road. … the 49ers are coming off a five-sack performance against Dallas. Charles Omenihu had 1½ sacks in that game. … Gold is 18 of 18 in career playoff field-goal attempts, the most so far in a post-season run without a miss. Gould kicked 53, 52 and 40 yards against Dallas. … 49 players have won their last four divisional-round playoff games (during the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2019 seasons). Three of the four wins were at home. Their last loss in this round was a 31–6 loss at Tampa Bay during the 2002 season. … The Niners have averaged 195.3 yards running per game in four playoff games under Shanahan. … Garopolo has averaged 149.8 yards per game with four INTs and two TDs in four playoff starts. … The Packers are trying to reach the NFC Championship Game for the third season in a row. He hasn’t made it to the Super Bowl since the 2010 championship season. … the last two times he has faced the 49ers, Adams has caught a total of 22 passes for 305 yards. He has scored a touchdown in all those games. … Rogers has thrown as many touchdown passes in an NFL-record nine consecutive playoff games. … the Packers are 11–10 in divisional playoff games, including an 8–1 home record. The home loss came in the 2011 season for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. … the 49ers are 33-21 and the Packers are 36-24 in postseason games. Only the New England Patriots (37–22) have a better winning percentage after the season. The Packers’ 36 postseason victories put them in a tie for second place with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one behind New England. … Shanahan and Packers coach Matt LaFleur worked together as NFL assistants with Houston, Washington, and Atlanta.