What we learned in 49ers' comeback playoff win over Packers

What we learned in 49ers' comeback playoff win over Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SANTA CLARA — Exactly which team was the top seed? And which was the last to qualify for the NFC playoffs?

The longer the Green Bay Packers hung around, the tighter the 49ers appeared to get in their NFC divisional-round game Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium.

But the 49ers’ offense turned it on when needed to stay alive.

Christian McCaffrey scored on a 6-yard touchdown run with 67 seconds remaining to provide the winning points in a 24-21 victory over the Packers.

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw had two interceptions, including one in the final minute to clinch the victory.

The 49ers move on to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, Jan. 28, against the winner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Detroit Lions game, which will be played Sunday at Ford Field.

Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ 10th playoff matchup against the Packers.

Purdy’s struggles

Pro Bowl quarterback Brock Purdy and the 49ers' offense were completely out of sync all night.

Was it the layoff? Was it rust? No, it was just poor execution and all-around bad play.

Purdy was either off-target or not on the same page with his intended targets. Or, more likely, a combination of both.

The 49ers got off to a rough beginning, and it never really was too much better … until late in the fourth quarter.

Purdy engineered a 12-play, 69-yard drive that McCaffrey finished off with his touchdown run to provide the 49ers with the winning points.

Purdy ended the game with 23 completions on 39 attempts for 252 yards and one touchdown pass.

Purdy misfired on some early passes, including a first-drive throw over the middle for Brandon Aiyuk that could have and should have been intercepted.

Despite being dominated in the early going, the 49ers took a 7-3 lead with 8:42 remaining in the second quarter when Purdy found tight end George Kittle open against Packers safety Darnell Savage for a 32-yard touchdown.

Deebo sidelined with injury

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel sustained an injury on the 49ers’ fourth offensive snap and wasn’t able to continue.

And the 49ers’ offense did not look the same — just as they did earlier in the season when they lost three consecutive games when he was out.

Now, his status for the remainder of the playoffs is in question.

Samuel caught a first-quarter pass for 9 yards and was tackled by Packers inside linebackers Quay Walker and De’Vondre Campbell. The star wideout was shaken up and eventually taken to the medical tent on the 49ers’ sideline to be evaluated for a head injury.

Samuel was cleared for a concussion, but he continued to be bothered by an injury to his left shoulder, and went to the locker room later in the first half. When the 49ers came out of their locker room to open the third quarter, Samuel was not in uniform, and officially was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Samuel had two receptions for 24 yards during the limited time he was in the game.

In the first half of the 49ers’ Week 6 game against the Cleveland Browns, Samuel sustained a hairline fracture of his left shoulder. He was ruled out of the second half of that game and missed the next two (both losses) against the Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals.

Packers’ failed chances

Green Bay dominated through most of the first half and led for most of the game, but had little to show for it because of many missed opportunities.

The only reason the game was close going into the second half was because the Packers could not finish drives. Their three first-half drives ended with a turnover on downs sandwiched between two short field goals.

Packers running back Aaron Jones had success on the ground, which opened the door for Jordan Love to find open receivers through the use of play-action passes. Love, who completed 21 of 34 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions, had success targeting 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas throughout the game.

Green Bay elected to receive the opening kickoff after winning the coin toss, and went on an impressive 14-play drive that took up more than half of the first quarter.

But the Packers failed to get into the end zone, settling for a short field goal after Charvarius Ward broke up Love’s pass for Romeo Doubs in the end zone.

Then Purdy delivered a gift to the Packers, but Savage failed to hold onto what should have been an easy interception.

The Packers’ next long drive was stopped at the 49ers’ 14-yard line when Love was stopped on a fourth-and-1 quarterback sneak attempt.

And, finally, Green Bay settled for another field goal after their third red-zone trip of the game.

When the first half concluded, the Packers held the edge in nearly every statistical category but still trailed 7-6.

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