All the talk this week was about the temperatures and if the teams could handle it. Both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers proved that they could go out and still lay heavy blows in near-zero degree weather. Fortunately for the 49ers, they came out the victor in a 23-20 NFC Wild Card Playoff on a last-second field goal by Phil Dawson.
The 49ers came out hot in the first quarter on both offense and defense. But just like how it has been all year, they cooled down, literally and figuratively, as the game progressed. Colin Kaepernick again proved to be Green Bay’s weakness and he moves to 3-0 in his career against them. Kaepernick had a good game with 227 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His biggest impact came on the ground as he had 98 rushing yards and multiple runs that extended drives and set up scores. None was bigger than on a third down on the final drive of the game.
This game, Michael Crabtree emerged as Kaepernick’s favorite receiver. He had eight receptions and 125 yards including a few big third-down conversions. Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin were quiet for most of the game, save for Vernon Davis’ 28-yard touchdown reception. Frank Gore and the rest of the running backs didn’t have any flashy stats or runs, but the 49ers were confident enough in the sure-handed Gore to give him the ball in the most crucial drive of the game.
The 49ers’ defense played well even though they were missing two of their top four cornerbacks. They seemed to fix their late season secondary woes by finding their pass rush. Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times and they held him to less than 200 yards and only one touchdown. The defense had a bit more trouble stopping Eddie Lacy and the running game, but they continued their streak of not allowing an 100 yard rusher all season.
After playing in frozen temperatures, the 49ers are relieved to be going to Carolina for a rematch of the earlier matchup. After enduring the tundra that is Lambeau Field, the 49ers are prepared for anything that the playoffs have to throw at them.