What the 49ers said after coming back to beat Packers
16-20 minutes 1/21/2024 The 49ers earned a wild playoff win in a rainstorm Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium, coming back to beat the visiting Packers 24-21. With the win, they secured a berth in the NFC Championship Game, which they will host next Sunday against the winner of tomorrow’s Buccaneers-Lions game. Christian McCaffrey’s 6-yard touchdown run turned a four-point deficit into a three-point lead with just over a minute left, then Dre Greenlaw’s second interception of the night on an ill-advised Jordan Love throw sealed the victory.
McCaffrey finished with 98 yards and two touchdowns rushing on 17 carries. Brock Purdy struggled to grip the wet ball throughout the game, but was nails late in the game. He was 6-of-7 for 48 yards on the game’s final drive.
For the game he was 23-of-39 for 252 yards and a touchdown. With Deebo Samuel out after the first quarter, George Kittle led the Niners in receiving with four catches for 81 yards. Jauan Jennings contributed 61 yards on five catches and Brandon Aiyuk had 32 yards on three catches, including a key third-down conversion on the final drive.
Here’s what the 49ers had to say after the game: Kyle Shanahan On the team fighting through struggles: What you just said there was kind of the story of our whole team. I think there was times that we were all off at times. You now, just what was cool, I thought everyone who had a few plays that stuck out that either ended a drive or why we didn’t get a first down, same thing on defense On the comeback: Very proud of the guys in there.
I thought that was as big of a mental challenge and just a character game as any game I’ve been a part of … It was a gut check for everybody and couldn’t be more proud of the people in there and see how they persevered. On the game: They made some plays, credit to them. I and I thought we missed a few that could kind of help us stay on the field a little bit longer … the whole day was just a little off, but guys stuck with it.
On whether he has second thoughts about playing conservatively at the end of the half: I like that they didn’t score. I like that we won at the end of the day. And we did try to score.
We had a chance there right after, on second down, thought we had a chance for BA over the middle, would have been a big play. On the rain: It’s always a factor but it was for both sides. I think the biggest thing was the turf, the field with the rain.
I though it affected the defense a little more, just watching. On getting past prior playoff failures: Anytime you play a game that’s do-or-die, everyone knows what that’s about, especially our guys. They’ve been through that a number of times in the last few years … That’s on your mind throughout the week — that’s always on your mind during the game but that’s why I’m so proud of our guys when it’s not going right and you know how big of a deal that is.
On Greenlaw’s game-sealing pick: I still have mixed emotions. I can’t believe he didn’t get down right away. Just being able to play today — he’s been battling here for these two weeks, trying to get back and get healthy for the game and, I mean, he inspires the heck out of all of us the way he runs, the way he hits.
On missing Samuel: It changes a lot of stuff, especially when you have wristbands and things like that and you know, you just got to switch some guys around, which is always a challenge for those guys. That happened during the Cleveland game and we didn’t handle that well. We handled it better today than we did then, but it is a huge challenge, man.
It’s details, obviously, one of our better players but he also is a unique guys that goes to some certain spots, so you got to adjust to that all game. On McCaffrey’s third-quarter touchdown play call: He told me coming out that that play was going to score. It was called 18 Mike and it was part of our openers.
We didn’t get to it til the second drive, but he goes ‘That Mike’s gonna go, it’s gonna score. ’ Now, we didn’t get the exact look we wanted, so we were a little surprised on it but Christian was right. He’s a man of his word.
On kicking the final field goal after Moody’s earlier miss: That’s huge, getting the one blocked earlier and I think it was a 52-yarder. It was tough, probably would have gone for it if it wasn’t fourth and like nine and a half. It was one that were were planning on going for it but nine and a half seemed a little far, and it was in his range.
I definitely would have wished I went for it if he missed it. So he made it and it helps me a lot — really appreciate him doing that because that’s why we were able to win. On the stakes of the game: I just like that we get another week with our team.
Every game is different. This is what we always talk about. I mean, we have a lot of confidence in our team.
We’re the No. 1 seed. We believe we earned that, we believe we should be that.
But it doesn’t matter for three hours — you gotta play like it every week. On his message to the team: I just told them how proud I was of them. They knew the deal, I didn’t have to say much.
I mean, we knew that didn’t go as clean as we wanted it to in all three phases. There wasn’t one phase that was just like ‘Man, we made that easy. ’ Brock Purdy To Fox’s Erin Andrews On the last drive: It’s a team effort, you know, defense making stops.
We’re like, man we got to do something. For myself to calm down, go through reads, take what they give you and put a drive together when we needed it, when the season was on the line. On the rain: That’s football, man.
You gotta overcome that. That was early on but after a while, it’s like ‘Man, I gotta get into a rhythm, I gotta hit guys that are open. That’s on me.
Overall, we gotta find a way to win. It’s playoff football, you’re gonna get their best. And we made it work.
On the final drive: When I watch the film down the road in my life, you know, it’ll be a good one to watch. At the podium On the mentality entering the final drive: It’s a testament to our team because the defense got the stop at the end, the field goal kicker missed, and it’s like we have what we wanted right in front of us. So you have to clean the slate, you have to have a clean mind and not try to force anything, take what the defense gives you and find a way.
We had time on the clock, so it’s not like you gotta be a superhero, make a play or anything. Do what what we call the quarterback pack tells you and go through the progressions and find a way. On the rain: I put on the glove for the first drive, it was coming down, and then it sprinkled so i took it off.
So I was still trying to sort of figure out what I wanted to do and sort of fed up with the glove, so I (was) obviously just throwing like I normally do. Yeah, there was some times I was dropping back, the ball’s a little wet from the grass and sort of affected some accuracy and stuff, but dude, that’s football. So I gotta be better in that area.
On the final drive: At the end of the day, I think I was just able to go through progressions and like I said, get to the checkdown efficiently and move the chains and say up rather than get behind. Obviously we got to a third down, BA was clutch on it and made a great play, and you need that throughout the drive. But you know, I think early on in the game, there was just moments where the checkdown was there and I was missing the checkdowns.
On winning this game: We just have too many good players on this team. So many players that are difference-makers and we got a great defense, so for us to not find a way, it’s not right. So for us to finally have a game like this and pull through at the end was huge for all of us.
On returning to the NFC title game: It’s been sort of in the back of our minds, like last year we had a team to do it and we feel like obviously, we didn’t have a real opportunity at it after the quarterbacks got hurt in that game. We’re really excited for it but we’re going to take it one day at a time, find out who we play tomorrow and be ready to go forward. On the third-down ball to Aiyuk: I saw it was man (coverage), I saw that the middle of the field was open and that’s where he was going.
He did a great job of getting inside leverage and making his break. Obviously it was tight coverage and for me it was like I just tried to put it out in front of him and have it just be him able to get it and he did. Christian McCaffrey On the team: I like our team because I think we’re built for those moments.
We didn’t play well at all and still had a chance at the end to go out there and execute at the end. It’s the sign of a high-character team. We just got to correct our mistakes this next week.
On the funky game: That game just felt off pretty much the whole game until the end there. So to be able to persevere through the adversity and to have mature guys on this team who can strap up and go out there and find a way to get a win at the end, it’s a sign of a good team, even when you’re playing bad. On the team’s struggle through the game: I think sometimes when you have a little time off, it’s hard to replicate football.
You can call it that, but we’ll never know for sure. On why he told Shanahan they’d score on the ‘Mike’ play: I don’t know. I was just hoping I was right, and it worked out.
I like that play. Anytime we can get Juice on the dot and run downhill, I’m always a fan of that. On the conditions: It was definitely slippery at times, but no excuses.
On whether the Packers surprised them: No, that’s a hell of a football team and we’re in the playoffs in the NFL so there’s no surprises at this stage in the game. On Greenlaw not going down at the end: He’s got an unbelievable amount of broken tackles on his picks this year, does a great job. I was hoping he’d get down a little earlier but he did run off seven seconds.
It’s amazing how many guys he makes miss. Ball security is (shaky). Fred Warner On Greenlaw’s sealing pick: I’m right there for the interception and I see Superman Dre Greenlaw come out of nowhere and snag it.
I’m like ‘Yes’. I don’t even look at him. I turned around.
I started looking at the crowd and then I turn around, I see 57 just running around, swimming with the football … I went up to him, asked ‘Why didn’t you go down?’ He’s like I wanted that pick-six like we talked about. On the defense: It was unacceptable, the way that we were playing them to start the drives. We kept giving up explosive plays and I got to look at it to see exactly what was going on but as you mentioned, standing up in those red-zone opportunities was crucial.
On struggles but moving on: We would love to go into the NFC Championship firing much more effectively, executing at a higher level … It’s great we won but shoot, so much to correct and get better at going into this game. Dre Greenlaw On if he heard teammates shouting to get down after interception: Oh yeah, I heard ’em. But Fred told me I was supposed to get a pick-six, so I mean it was kind of his fault because he told me like ‘Man, you’re going to pick-six.
’ On returning from an Achilles injury to play: I wasn’t going to sit out for nothing. I wasn’t going to sit out of this game for anything. But yeah I mean it definitely felt great just knowing that you battle all this daily practice all week and get a chance to go out there an make some plays.
I’m just doing it for my teammates. I know they wanted me to play and I knew I wanted to play so I was going to make sure I did everything to get them. On his last two-interception game: Definitely college versus A&M.
On the stop on Love’s quarterback sneak: I knew that was coming and we had kind of practiced it all week and was prepared for it … We saw it on film and then you know once they got in that formation, we knew what time it was. My job is just to hit the quarterback in the shoulder, not in the head. Nick Bosa On watching the final drive from the sideline: It’s a terrible feeling not having any control over it, but I definitely have faith in Kyle and everybody on our offense to get it done.
We needed a win like that, I feel like. Why they needed it: We just haven’t come from behind in a while. It’s a really good team and really good coaching and just helps you get more battle-tested.
On his own play: It was a grind. I think I left everything out there and I was getting to the quarterback a little bit. He was getting rid of it.
There was a lot of chips. We didn’t really get into the game that we wanted to play as the D-line. We wanted to get some points and kind of have a lead there to really get after him, but he was getting rid of it and he’s a really good quarterback.
On whether he felt more relief than anything else after this win: Yeah, it was for sure. I mean, just this group that we have, I did not want this to end. Nobody did.
We made the plays we needed to. On whether he’ll have a beer watching this game back: Beer doesn’t really do it for me right now. Maybe something else, but… George Kittle On the win: Winning’s fun.
Being able to win in adversity when things aren’t going your way, it’s something that you have to learn as a team. If you look back at this season compared to like 2019, (in) 2019 every single game that we played kind of seemed like the stress was as high as possible. We needed to figure out how to win every single game … This season it was we basically blew everybody out and the close games we didn’t win.
so it was like ‘OK, well what better time to learn how to win a game than in the playoffs?’ On missing Deebo Samuel: Deebo’s a fantastic football player. He’s amazing, especially the things that we ask him to do. You know, Deebo, when he’s in there and like match him with Christian, switching them around, stuff like that, it makes our offense what I think is different than any other offense in the NFL.
… We’re a different team without Deebo. However, we still have a lot of really talented people on this offense and in this building. On Jauan Jennings: Jauan got a carry on the first play of the second half.
I don’t really know where that came … But hey, he knew where to line up and knew what to do. On if they ever felt like it was slipping away: Slipping away, no. Definitely felt like our offense wasn’t as rhythmic as it usually is.
Our defense, I mean, you can call it what you want, watch the tape, it probably wasn’t our best game of football that we played all year. Tashaun Gipson Sr. On the defense’s confidence in the offense on the final drive: Nobody wavered.
We understood. You give 13 (Purdy ) that type of time, 13 going to make you pay. He’s been doing it all year.
The lights are never too bright for 13. He’s my quarterback. On the Packers: We didn’t play our best game but I will never discredit what those guys did over there.
Those guys played a heck of a game. The game plan they came in with was a great game plan. Obviously (Packers coach Matt LaFleur) is very familiar with Coach Shanahan.
You know the roots. But they have good players. They’re young.
The Packers are going to be a good team for years to come. They gave us a dog fight. On winning: Hearing that stadium, the emotion — I thought Dallas last year was intense but when (Greenlaw) caught that second pick, I’ve never seen the stadium so loud.
It’s a surreal feeling. To be back-to-back in the NFC Championship Game, man, I couldn’t script this. Trent Williams On coming from behind: We needed that.
A lot of our wins, I was off in the fourth quarter. It does give us a little token of confidence to know we can get it done. On the mindset for the last drive: Make sure this is not the last drive of the season.
We only had six minutes, if we didn’t get into the end zone or get a field goal it was going to be tough. That could’ve been the last drive of the season. We had to dig in.
On what it means to go back to the NFC title game: It means you have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I’m 0-2 in NFC Championship games. This one we have to get.
I’m not getting any younger. I definitely want to get to the top of the mountain. We need this game.
We have to come out and play much better than we did today. But we got another opportunity. That’s all we can ask for.
On Dre Greenlaw and on him running around after his second pick: He’s one of the best linebackers in the NFL. … I don’t blame him but I definitely wanted to go tackle him. Kyle Juszczyk On Samuel’s injury: Deebo is one of the best players in the NFL.
he’s so special with what he does. He’s so unique. The way we gear our offense around him is very tailored to him.
So when he’s not in there, it’s difficult because not anybody can just step in and do what Deebo does. Hopefully we get him back next week. .