photo from msn.com: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) and San Francisco 49ers media relations director Bob Lange (left) take off down the field at Levis Stadium following the 49ers victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday
By Joe Lami
SANTA CLARA–The matchup is set, it will be the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers who will battle it out for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LIV on February 2nd in Miami. The Niners advance to their seventh Super Bowl in franchise history, thanks to a 37-20 drubbing of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Raheem Mostert gashed the Green Bay Packers in one of the most dominant rushing attacks in NFL postseason history. Finishing with 220 yards on 29 carries and four touchdowns, Mostert became the first player in NFL history to rush for 200+ yards and four scores in a playoff game. He finished with the second-most rushing yards in a playoff game, falling 28 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s record.
It was San Francisco’s most dominating rushing performance in franchise history. Not only did he surpass Colin Kaepernick’s memorable 181-yard game in Green Bay, but he also set the single-game franchise record, besting Frank Gore’s 212-yard game versus the Seahawks in 2006.
After quickly going three and out to open the game, San Francisco’s offense found it’s footing in the second drive and never looked back. Mostert initiated the scoring on a beautifully dialed up third and eight drawn play from the 36-yard line. Mostert found open space and was off to his first of three first-half touchdowns in the longest rush of his night.
Mostert was explosive no matter which direction he ran. He carried it nine times off the left tackle for 50 yards and two touchdowns, six times through the left-a gap for 42 yards and a score, five times through the right a-gap for 39 yards and a score, and off the right tackle nine times for 89 yards.
“Whether it’s special teams or offense, the way he hits the hole, he gets so vertical and fast. I think guys defense underestimate his speed. You can just see it, he’ll hit a hole and the guy will take what he thinks is a good angle. Next thing you know, he’s by him doesn’t even touch him. His 0 to 60 is literally in two steps and it’s so special with our offense, the way we run outside zone, inside zone, he can make one cut and get vertical. That’s all we need.” Said George Kittle.
The Niners rushing attack was so potent, it made Jimmy Garoppolo’s day incredibly easy. Garoppolo completed six of eight passing attempts for 77 yards, becoming just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to win a conference championship while attempting eight passes or fewer. He targeted Deebo Samuel three times for two completions and 46 yards. Kittle caught his only target for 19 yards.
Sunday’s Championship matchup felt like a replay of San Francisco’s week 12 commanding 37-8 victory. The Niners took control very early, racing out to a 27-0 halftime lead before Aaron Rodgers did his best to battle back in the second half, only to come up short.
Rodgers completed 31 of his 39 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and felt the 49ers’ potent pass rush most of the contest, looking uncomfortable for most of the game. San Francisco forced three turnovers from Rodgers with Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley getting the interceptions, while K’Waun Williams blitzed off the slot for a strip-sack, setting up San Francisco’s second of three field goals.
The Niners now will be competing for their first Super Bowl since 1995, going up against the Chiefs, who will be making their first appearance in 50 years. “It’s amazing. It means a lot to us, especially going through all of the adversity that we went through over the past couple of years. To be going to the Super Bowl and have the chance to be top of the league is amazing,” said Arik Armstead.
Dee Ford is excited to be going up against his former team, “it is going to be a great opportunity, it’s going to be like playing my brothers back to training camp days. It’s going to be fun.”