The San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers faced off for the fourth time in two years in the frozen tundra that is Lambeau Field. This is second consecutive year that the two teams played each other in the playoffs. Both of those games finished with the same result: the 49ers coming away with the win. This game was an old-school, physical football game. Both teams had to endure the freezing temperatures and try to overcome both the weather and the other team. Fortunately for the 49ers, they came out on top.
Colin Kaepernick continued his streak of dominance against the Packers. With this win, Kaepernick is now 3-0 in his short career against Green Bay. In fact, in his three career games against the Packers, Kaepernick has racked up 1,201 total yards. That’s 400 yards per game, just by himself. In this game, Kaepernick tallied up 325 total yards. He had 227 through the air and 98 on the ground. He also threw a touchdown and an interception. Kaepernick had a few clutch throws and runs that ultimately led to a 49ers’ victory.
Michael Crabtree has proven to be a huge asset to the 49ers’ offense. Once again, he had a big game in the playoffs, by grabbing eight catches for 125 yards against the Packers’ defense. This was Crabtree’s second 100 yard game in three weeks. When the game started to come down to the wire, Crabtree delivered big with two first down catches including a crucial third down. Even in the freezing cold, Crabtree was able to snag Kaepernick’s bullets out of the air.
The cold weather must have woke up the 49ers’ defense. After giving up over 300 yards to Matt Ryan and 400 yards to Carson Palmer in the two previous weeks, the 49ers defense held Aaron Rodgers to only 177 yards and one touchdown. They also found their pass rush as they sacked Rodgers four times, and could have sacked him a couple more times. They also continued their streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher against Eddie Lacy and the rest of the Packers’ potent run game.
For the second week in a row, Phil Dawson is the 49ers’ savior. Dawson was 3-3 on the day, even in subzero temperatures. Even with his first playoff victory hanging in the balance, Dawson was as cool as the weather and kicked the game winner. It makes you think where the 49ers would be this year if they still had David Akers as their kicker.
Frank Gore might not have flashy stats, but he did have one touchdown and laid some key blocks to spring Kaepernick for big gains. He also was able to make Phil Dawson’s kick easier by gaining an extra 10 yards with some tough running at the end of the game.
The 49ers’ continue to allow teams to stay in the game. The Packers gained six yards the entire first quarter. The 49ers were also inside the Packers’ 10 yard line twice and only came away with six points. Those two failures to score almost cost the 49ers the game. If the 49ers turn those two red zone trips into touchdowns, the game might have been over by half time. They need to capitalize on great opportunities if they want to make a deep playoff run.
The 49ers absolutely need to get their clock management issues fixed. They used four of their six timeouts to save delay of game penalties, including one before the first play of the second half and one after an injury timeout. It’s not clear whose fault it is, but frankly it doesn’t matter. They need to stop wasting timeouts in the first five minutes of the game. They were fortunate they didn’t need them this game, but it might come back to haunt them later.