49ers advance to NFC game behind Greenlaw’s late INT

Santa Clara – The Forty-Niners punched their ticket to the NFC Championship game for three-consecutive seasons. The 49ers rallied late in the fourth for a 24-21 comeback win against the Green Bay Packers. Christian McCaffrey scored his second touchdown with a 1:07 left in the game. Dre Greenlaw’s second interception at the .57 mark sealed San Francisco’s win, it was nothing short of a story book ending.

Jauan Jennings on Dre Greenlaw.

LB Dre Greenlaw registered 8 tackles and two interceptions of Packers QB Jordan Love, marking the first two postseason INTs of his career. Greenlaw also is the first 49ers player to registered 2 INTs in a playoff game since, DB Eric Davis intercepted Dallas Cowboys QB Troy Aikman twice in the NFC Championship Game vs. Dal. (1/15/95).  

Greenlaw’s 8 tackles on the evening gives him 62 tackles in his playoff career, which are the 5th-most tackles by a 49er’s player in the playoffs in franchise history. Tonight Greenlaw showed his offensive side in possibly trying out for a running back with his athletic speed. San Francisco’s head coach, Kyle Shanahan said, “If you want to run the ball so much, you should ask to play offense.”

“Oh yeah. Put me out there,” Greenlaw said. “That’s what I used to do in high school. Come on now.”

On what he saw in his final interception, Greenlaw explained what caught his eye.

“They had men lined up to the left, on his second interception. We knew they were trying to get the ball deep and get in field-goal range. We were just playing deep and short. My guy went to the flat, so I was able to just have eyes on the quarterback a little bit. I saw him throwing across his body and was just able to make a play.”

It was certainly an up and down game, on a cold and rainy night at Levi’s stadium. Love went 21-for-34 for 134 yards, that included two touchdowns and two interceptions. Green Bay led most of the game while forcing Brock Purdy to struggle on offense to start the game. Purdy almost threw an interception in the first period, and on the next play he got sacked. 

He did connect with George Kittle for a 32-yard touchdown. Purdy completed 23 of his 39 passing attempts. for 252 yards and one touchdown. His passing touchdown marked the 4th of his playoff career. Purdy is the 5th QB in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first two seasons, joining former QBs Joe Flacco (2008-09), Ben Roethlisberger (2004-05), Mark Sanchez (2009-10) and Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson (2012-13).  

“Slipping away? No, it definitely felt like our offense wasn’t as rhythmic as it usually is, “Kittle said. “It probably wasn’t our best game of football that we’ve played all year. So, slipping away? No. We were within one score pretty much the whole time, right? We have a lot of guys that can go for 75 yards, so I’m never really worried about that.” 

“I think I was just able to go through progressions and get to the check down efficiently and move the chains and stay up rather than get behind,” said Purdy on the final drive verses the rest of the game. “Obviously, we got to a third down, [WR Brandon Aiyuk] B.A. was clutch on it and made a great play and you need that throughout a drive. But I think early on in the game there were just moments where the check down was there, and I was missing the check downs. Their defense did a good job with playing soft, keeping everything in front of them, sort of taking away our shots and as a quarterback you’ve got to be efficient and hit the check downs. And so, at the end I was able to do that. O-Line did a great job, boys did a great job in getting open and we found a way.” 

San Francisco looked more unprepared than well rested with a bye last week. The Packers defense made it tough for the 49ers early on. They scored four times with their last touchdown in the third when Love found Tucker Kraft for a 2-yard touchdown then followed with a 2-point conversion to open the lead to 21-14. That’s when Jake Moody kicked a 52-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-17.

The 49ers defense kept their composure and stayed focused. Anders Carlson attempted to kick a 52-yard field goal that would’ve put Green Bay up by 24 and a possible tie but Carlson’s kick was no good. This sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy, desperate for a big play McCaffrey’s 6-yard touchdown run was the miracle San Francisco was looking for.  

McCaffrey registered 17 carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go along with 7 receptions for 30 yards through the air. His rushing touchdown gives him 5 in his playoff career and marked his first career playoff game with 2-or-more TDs.  

Today’s game marked the 5th playoff game of McCaffrey’s career, with 128 yards from scrimmage. He became the 4th running back and the 6th player in NFL history to register 50-or-more yards from scrimmage and 1-or-more touchdowns in each of their first 5 career playoff games.  

“Just one play at a time,” McCaffrey said. “I think we’re built for these moments. We didn’t play well at all and still had a chance to go out there and execute at the end. It’s a sign of a high character team. We just have to correct our mistakes for this next week.

The ability to persevere when you’re not playing well for one. That game just felt off, pretty much the whole game until the end. To be able to persevere through the adversity and to have mature guys on the team who can strap it up and go out there and find a way to get a win at the end, it’s a sign of a good team even when you’re playing bad.” 

Trent Williams on the final six minutes of the game.


Frank Gore on 49ers.

Photo by 49ers/Twitter

Malaika Bobino

Malaika Bobino, an Oakland, California native, is a Bay Area sports journalism powerhouse and influencer. With nearly two decades of experience at both the Oakland Post and the Huffington Post, she is always on the front lines of the iconic Bay Area sports scene. Bobino covered the Oakland A’s postseason trips, all three of the San Francisco Giants World Series, was present for all three Golden State Warriors three NBA Championships and covered the 49ers last two Super Bowl appearances

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