“We find a way.” Jimmy Garoppolo summed up the 2021 San Francisco 49ers with a statement that was as true as ever on Saturday night.

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The sixth-seeded 49ers came into Lambeau Field to face the No. 1-seeded Green Bay Packers and their MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers proceeded to beat the Packers, 13-10, on a 45-yard field goal from Robbie Gould as the clock ran down to 0:00.

“The way this year has gone has made this journey special, and I’m glad it’s still going,” said Nick Bosa.

It was 14 degrees at kickoff and snow started to fall during the game. They were not in Cali anymore.

“It’s not an easy place to play in, especially those conditions,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan after the game.

This is a team that was 3-5 midway through the season. This is a team that came back from a 17-0 deficit in a win-or-go home game against the Los Angeles Rams – on the road – two weeks ago. This is a team that is now one win away from returning to the Super Bowl.

“Our guys just never wavered,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “We never overreact to anything. We just keep playing football.”

It was 23 minutes before San Francisco had a first down and 36 minutes before they scored. With 12 minutes left in the game, they had made seven first downs and had 116 yards of offense. They did not score an offensive touchdown the entire game.

“It’s all kind of storybook,” said linebacker Fred Warner.

But defense, special teams and Deebo Samuel were the stars of the show.

Defense Wins Playoff Games

Rodgers was sacked five times and the NFC’s top team was held to 10 points. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead had two huge third-down sacks, one of which forced the Packers to kick a field goal and one of which forced the Packers to punt. More on that in a bit.

“Guys are having career years and stepping up in times we need them most,” Armstead, who is included in that category, said.

The Packers opened the game with what looked like an easy touchdown drive. Their following four drives ended in a fumble and then three consecutive punts. Though the Packers had promising drives, they were held to one touchdown and one field goal.

Special Teams

That punt that came after the Armstead sack wasn’t just any punt. It was a punt that Jordan Willis – who less than a week ago suffered a high ankle sprain – blocked.

“We just needed one play to spark us,” Garoppolo said.

Talanoa Hufanga scooped up the football and ran it in for a touchdown to tie the game with 4:41 to play.

“You guys probably saw all of us look for [the football],” Hufanga said. “We were struggling. With the snow and the dark, we couldn’t see it. But then I heard it bounce to my left. I wasn’t going to jump on it. I wanted to score.”

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The 49ers special teams unit met a unit with more issues than theirs in the Packers and San Francisco capitalized. Free safety Jimmie Ward blocked a Green Bay field goal attempt end the first half, the aforementioned block-turned-touchdown and the Gould game-winning FG.

Deebo Samuel and the 49ers offense

It was another incredible game for WR/RB – or as he calls his position, wide-back – Deebo Samuel, who had 39 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards and 59 yards as a kick returner. 45 of those yards came on a kick return to start the second half.

With 1:03 left in the game, the 49ers were on the Packers 38-yard line when Garoppolo handed the ball off to Samuel who got to the 29-yard line before leaving the field with an ankle injury.

“I was just celebrating with him,” Shanahan said after the game. “He seemed alright.”

Earlier in the game, Samuel left the game with a shoulder injury but returned.

“I was hurting all game, but I’ll be alright,” Samuel said.

The next two plays were runs from Elijah Mitchell and Kyle Juszczyk to set up the field goal.

Left tackle Trent Williams was on crutches after the game with an ankle injury, the severity of which is to be determined.

What’s Next

“The fight in this team is ridiculous,” Garoppolo said. “It really is. No giving up.”

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The fight continues on the road next weekend in either Tampa or Los Angeles, depending on the winner of Sunday’s Rams-Buccaneers divisional playoff game.

On to…the NFC Championship.



Tracy Sandler

Tracy Sandler

I created Fangirl Sports Network as a place for female sports fans to follow their favorite teams with content and coverage that speaks directly to females. It started with one and then eight and now 32 NFL Fangirls and 15 NBA Fangirls.