Notes and observations from a wild 49ers NFC championship victory

Things couldn’t have gotten off to an uglier start for the 49ers in the NFC championship game. They fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime. They ripped off 27 consecutive points to go ahead 34-24 and wound up pulling out a 34-31 win to punch their ticket to Super Bowl LVIII.

Here are our notes from a WILD game at Levi’s Stadium:

First quarter

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

– A touchback for the 49ers on the opening kick! Look at them go.

Detroit’s first big run is on the second play of the game. RB David Montgomery found 15 yards up the middle. It looked like LB Oren Burks was late filling the hole.

– Missed tackles were a major issue for the 49ers on a 42-yard touchdown run. There were multiple chances for San Francisco to come up with stops and WR Jameson Williams ran through all of them. It’s 7-0 Detroit after just 1:42 of game time. If that’s how the 49ers are going to tackle it’s going to be a long game.

– First play of the game for the 49ers is a run that gets stuffed for a yard. Then Brock Purdy’s second-and-9 throw was batted down. Third-and-long isn’t where they want to play from.

– Dime from Purdy on third-and-9 to WR Brandon Aiyuk for 11 yards. That throw might be there all day for the 49ers. Aiyuk flambeed the corner on a deep out.

– Another sick throw from Purdy, who found Deebo Samuel for a first down on second-and-10. He got pummeled right as he let the ball go, but he still found his WR for 15 and a first down.

– The 49ers’ run game is off to a rough start. Christian McCaffrey has carried it three times for just eight yards and Detroit is selling out to stop it. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if San Francisco started going heavy play action and taking some shots.

– Third-and-3 the 49ers spread it out and then go inside handoff to McCaffrey for seven and another first down.

– Another Purdy throw batted down at the line. It was DE Aidan Hutchinson again.

Jake Moody missed a 48-yard field goal to end the 49ers’ first drive. The kicking game is a total debacle. Detroit now takes over at their own 38 for their second series.

– The 49ers’ defense has nothing for this Lions offense. They needed two plays to go 12 yards for a first down and they’re already at midfield.

– There’s a well-timed blitz call from Steve Wilks. Dre Greenlaw flew in off the edge and forced an errant throw from QB Jared Goff. We may see more of that as the 49ers try and get Detroit out of rhythm.

– Third-and-9 screen goes for an easy first down. Wilks is getting cooked.

– Every time Goff is under pressure he misfires.

– Second-and-10, outside run to RB Jahmyr Gibbs goes for 10 and a first down. Sheesh. What a rear end kicking this has been.

– It’s 14-0, Lions after a short touchdown for Detroit RB David Montgomery. San Francisco’s defense is getting absolutely obliterated on the ground.

– Play action game is working now and the 49ers are driving again. They badly need a touchdown on this series.

End of first quarter: Lions 14, 49ers 0

Second quarter

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

– What. A. Run. McCaffrey goes for 28 after a short throw and he forced three missed tackles to get the 49ers inside the 5. That was an unbelievable individual effort.

– Bang. McCaffrey plows in from two yards out to give the 49ers a little bit of life. San Francisco opened up the run game with a couple of play action passes early on the drive. Then they leaned on the run game to cap the eight-play, 75-yard drive. That was a monster drive in a huge spot. It’s 14-7, Detroit.

– Another touchback for Moody.

– First-down carry for Detroit goes for 14 yards. The 49ers have no answer for them on the ground.

– Third-and-10, short throw to Amon-Ra St. Brown goes for 11 and a first after he slipped a tackle. Tackling has been a major problem all game.

– There’s Nick Bosa. He got home for a sack after Greenlaw started to blitz and then stopped to get his hands in a throwing lane. Goff had to hold the ball and Bosa got there.

– Huge hit from Greenlaw on a pass to TE Sam LaPorta on a third-and-forever. He was a little shaken up, but that was the kind of tackle they’ve been missing.

– Yikes. An interception for Purdy who was hit as he threw. This is a nightmare start for the 49ers. They abandoned the run entirely on that drive and Detroit’s DL teed off.

–  Fred Warner is really good.

– So is LaPorta, who the 49ers don’t seem intent on covering. He’s wide open every time Goff looks for him. Second-and-15 after a tackle for loss turns into an easy first down.

– Gibbs is a heck of a player. He made two 49ers whiff in the open field and cruised in for an easy TD off the right side. It’s 21-7 and three different Lions have scored on run plays.

– Yikes. A three-and-out for the 49ers after Aiyuk dropped what would’ve been an incredible diving catch on a scramble drill. This is already ugly, but it appears it’s going to get uglier.

– Detroit’s RBs are getting four and five yards upfield before they’re getting hit.

– Third-and-12, outside handoff for 13 yards. That’s the second time Detroit has run on third-and-long and gotten a first down.

– Bosa again. He’s making it really tough for Detroit to throw it, but they don’t really need to.

– Third-and-18, St. Brown is wide open for 23 yards and a trip to the red zone. A touchdown here probably ends this one.

– Another third-down conversion to St. Brown. He was wide open for 9 on a third-and-7. The 49ers defense just has no clue.

– The 49ers hold on a goal-to-go situation and force a field goal, but the climb will still be steep in the second half. It’s 24-7, Lions and San Francisco has no answers for their offense.

End of second quarter: Lions 24, 49ers 7

Third quarter

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

– Good start to the second half for the 49ers with a first-down run to McCaffrey for eight and then a 26-yard strike from Purdy to Samuel. The 49ers need a quick score if for no other reason than to wake a sleepy Levi’s Stadium crowd.

– Sick catch by Jauan Jennings for eight on a truly terrible idea from Purdy to throw it back across his body to the middle of the field. Jennings leapt and hauled in a one-handed grab over a defender. That could be a game saver.

– Now Purdy misfires to Jennings on third-and-8. The receiver was open. Purdy just sailed the throw. Woof.

– Moody connects from 43 yards out to make it 24-10 after the 49ers’ first possession of the second half. That Purdy miss to Jennings hurt.

– Play action pass gets 16 for the Lions on first down. This is an offensive masterclass.

– Wow. Bosa got pressure on a fourth-and-3 and forced Goff to throw behind his receiver. That’s a huge stop for the 49ers to stay in this game. Now they need touchdowns.

– The 49ers are in the “when in doubt, throw it to Deebo” portion of the evening.

– Holy. Smokes. Purdy’s deep shot for Aiyuk nearly gets intercepted, but instead it pops into the air and Aiyuk dives for a 51-yard catch. That was an unbelievable swing.

– Touchdown to Aiyuk from 6 yards out. The momentum has swung entirely. Purdy did well to move in the pocket to find a throwing lane and give Aiyuk time to get open. A quick score was exactly what San Francisco needed. It’s 24-17 and we’ve got a game.

– WOW. Now Gibbs fumbles when Tashaun Gipson flew downhill to hit him. Arik Armstead recovers and the 49ers have it at Detroit’s 24. What an unreal swing.

– Purdy is on one. He pump faked as the pocket collapsed and then escaped out the front for a 21-yard scramble that put the 49ers at the 4. That was an excellent run from the QB and a good decision not to force a throw in.

– McCaffrey plows in from a yard out. Unbelievable swing in this game. 2:22 of game time and the 49ers have gone from down 14 to tied. It’s 24-24 with 3:02 to go in the third quarter.

– Three-and-out for the Lions thanks to a couple of drops. Gipson whacked LaPorta to force one, and then WR Josh Reynolds dropped a third-down throw. He was Goff’s target on a fourth down earlier in the game.

– Purdy is ON. ONE. He avoided a sack and found Kyle Juszczyk for 10 yards and a first down to open the drive after the Lions punt. That was unreal.

End of third quarter: Lions 24, 49ers 24

Fourth quarter

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

George Kittle’s first catch of the game comes on the second snap of the fourth quarter. He was wide open for a 28-yard catch-and-run. He might’ve gone for more if he’d not almost fallen down turning upfield.

– Another sick Purdy scramble and second-and-6. He was under a ton of pressure, but again didn’t force a throw to scramble for 10.

– Yikes. On the ensuing first down he took a sack after not pulling the trigger on a throw. He did it again on second down. Brutal. That puts San Francisco in a third-and-19. Drive killers.

– The 49ers had to settle for a 33-yard field goal that gives them a 27-24 lead, but that feels like a win for Detroit. San Francisco had first-and-10 at the 12 and went backwards. That’s rough.

– Near interception for Ambry Thomas turns into a 22-yard gain for the Lions. Ouch.

– On the ensuing first down Montgomery found 16 yards off the left side. This is looking more like the first half.

– Another failed fourth down by the Lions. Pressure forced Goff off his spot and he badly underthrew St. Brown. The 49ers take over at their own 30 with about half a quarter to go.

– Purdy on the scramble AGAIN. Third-and-4 as the pocket collapses he ran for 21 yards and a massive first down as the clock ticks inside four minutes.

– McCaffrey takes a toss right and goes for 25 to set the 49ers up with a first-and-goal at the 3. What a freaking run.

– It’s Elijah Mitchell for the score on first down. He found room up the middle and got across the goal line to cap a seven-play, 70-yard drive. That will likely send the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

– The Lions have done a nice job driving after the TD. Goff made a couple of nice throws to Reynolds and LaPorta.

– Big run stop by Warner on third-and-goal forces the Lions to go for it on fourth-and-goal.

– Another great throw from Goff to Williams puts the Lions within three with 56 seconds left. Deommodore Lenoir had good coverage, but Goff made a heck of a throw. It’s 34-31, 49ers.

– Onside kick is corralled by Kittle. This one is over. The 49ers are headed to Las Vegas.

Final score: 49ers 34, Lions 31

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire