49ers: 3 keys to victory in NFC Championship Game against the Packers

49ers (Cunningham/Getty Images)
49ers (Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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1. Continue to stop the run

The 49ers have ridden the success of their defense all year and while their pass rush gets a ton of the credit for their incredible turnaround, something that’s often overlooked is their success defending the run.

And in recent games, the 49ers run defense has been particularly stout.

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The 49ers held Dalvin Cook to just 18 yards on nine carries last week as the usually excellent running back was left bewildered. And with the Vikings relying on a consistent ground game to remain successful, they stood no chance once San Francisco flexed their mite.

In the regular-season finale against Seattle, the 49ers surrendered less than 100 yards to the duo of Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch and even dating back to Week 16, the 49ers allowed just 48 yards on 15 carries to Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams.

Meanwhile, Packers running back Aaron Jones has been a primary reason for the team’s recent success rushing for a pair of touchdowns last week while finishing the regular season with back-to-back 100-yard games.

The Packers would like to remain flexible on offense but if the 49ers could force them to become one-dimensional, they should be able to find more success on defense.

On the contrary, if the 49ers run defense folds and Jones is able to get going, it could spell trouble. With a healthy front-seven featuring the returns of Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford, they should be able to continue stopping the run.

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But if not, it could be a long day for the 49ers and their defense.