by Mark Metzler
Well, the defensive stop on the first possession was good. After that, almost all bad.
I really had hoped the Packers would make a game of it and do better than they did after the week 12 blowout against the 49ers. I thought the team would at least come close to beating the spread of eight points. In a way, they tried to outperform. It was almost more embarrassing than week 12. But the team showed some grit after falling behind 27-0 at the half before eventually going down 37-20.
Honestly, there was never more than a little doubt about the outcome.
There was a glimmer at 17-0 with the Packers driving down the field, but Aaron Rodgers muffed an exchange with Corey Linsley, and the 49ers recovered, driving down the field for a field goal. It was 20-0, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Rodgers threw an interception, and moments later Raheem Mostert rushed in for his third touchdown of the half. He put up 160 yards rushing in the half. In the half.
By the end of the game Mostert had four touchdowns and 220 yards rushing, the second most ever in an NFL playoff game. Think about that for a second. In the history of the NFL it was second-most rushing yards by someone ever, and the Packers defense gave that up. To add some perspective, Mostert was a guy who was a special teamer for the first four years of his career and still runs on special teams for the 49ers. Embarrassing.
Fumbles, including a muff by reliable returner Tyler Erving, an interception, and the inability to stop the run added up to the doom. The 49ers were simply unstoppable, and a Packers defense that barely had a pulse after the first series, ran out of energy in a hurry. By the middle of the third quarter, they were so gassed that the normally reliable Adrian Amos, Jaire Alexander, and Za’Darius Smith all went down to injury. Smith returned, but the other two didn’t.
Of course, the Packers mixed in a shanked punt by J.K. Scott that the 49ers used to their advantage. That punt, the muffed exchange and the Rodgers’ interception were all uncharacteristic (the last interception didn’t matter). But, really, what wasn’t uncharacteristic, especially in the first half?
So, what were the good things about the game? It was good to see that the Packers didn’t quit. They came out of the half and put up an impressive drive. They came out again and drove the ball down the field, and then again. That’s a good sign for next year. And next year needs to be the year because Aaron Rodgers is running out of time.
And what came out of the year? I really thought if the team would have been 8-8, it would have been a good year. It would have been a great year for the team to make the playoffs. And, to make it to the NFC Championship game. Well, it exceeded any expectations. Packers’ fans should be happy. Still, getting this far and falling short is painful.
In the end on Sunday, it’s true what they say: speed kills. And the 49ers were just running at a different gear than the Packers. Plus, they really did dominate in the run game and play excellent defense. Those ingredients, as the annoying Troy Aikman pointed out, have won a lot of Super Bowls. It will be hard to beat these 49ers, but the Chiefs looked almost as dominant in taking down the Tennessee Titans.
It should be a good Super Bowl with the Chiefs and other worldly Patrick Mahomes, and their speedy receivers against the 49ers and the offensive genius of Kyle Shanahan. Or was it just the Packers inability to stop anything? A little of both I have to believe.
But, really, this was a good year that gives us something build on next year.