Aaron Rodgers and Packers welcome 49ers to start latest Super Bowl quest – Orange County Register

By STEVE MEGARGEE AP Sports Editor

Aaron Rodgers understands that time is running out for his hopes of winning a second Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers.

The 38-year-old quarterback’s final playoff run begins Saturday night as he tries to beat the team that has been the three-time MVP’s biggest playoff foe.

Rodgers is 0-3 in the playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers, despite having beaten them in the regular season each of the past two years. The top-seeded Packers (13-4) and 49ers (11-7) meet again Saturday night in an NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field.

“I think mortality in football is something we all think about,” Rodgers said. “And we all think about the number of opportunities that will be presented to us in the future, and each one is special.”

Since stumbling to a 3-5 start, the 49ers have won eight of 10 while showing a knack for delivering away from home. They secured a playoff berth by rallying from a 17-0 deficit to win a road game in overtime against the Rams and followed that up with a 23-17 wildcard victory over the Cowboys in Dallas.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said San Francisco’s slow start pushed the 49ers into a playoff mentality sooner than expected.

“Putting that pressure on your team early on creates a mindset,” Garoppolo said. “It creates an atmosphere in the dressing room of a sense of urgency that we have to win now and we have to make a few plays.”

The Packers beat the 49ers, 30-28, on the way back on September 26, with the 49ers overcoming a 17-0 deficit to take the lead in the final minute before Rodgers led Green Bay into position for the field of 51 yards from Mason Crosby. goal when time was up. The Packers also beat the 49ers, 34-17, on the road last season.

But the 49ers can build on their successful playoff history against Rodgers’ Packers, including a 37-20 win in the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago.

“It’s a special opportunity,” Rodgers said. “We’re not going to make it bigger than it is. We’ve come this far being weighted and balanced and not riding a roller coaster of emotions and we’re going to continue to do the same. So if it was good enough to get us this far, it’s good enough to get us past this point.

DYNAMIC DEEBO

Deebo Samuel has added another role to his do-it-all season.

The dynamic receiver and runner showed his prediction skills last week. After San Francisco intercepted a pass, Samuel told coach Kyle Shanahan to give him the ball and he would score. Shanahan called for a transfer on the next play, and Samuel took 26 yards for a touchdown.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never, ever, ever been around a football player who called his own shot,” 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said. “I play basketball, but when you play with 22 people on the court, 11 of them try to tackle you with every ounce of being they have. And you just say, ‘Hey yeah, give me the ball, I’m going to put the ball in the box”, and for him to do so was a special moment that only a special player could achieve.

Samuel has 1,880 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns this season, including the playoffs.

STAY DISCIPLINED

Green Bay’s most obvious concern is slowing the 49ers’ rushing offense. Elijah Mitchell and Samuel combined to rush for 168 yards against the Cowboys.

The Packers say they also need to be careful of what linebacker De’Vondre Campbell called “eye candy.” Campbell was referring to various pre-snap changes and moves that Shanahan uses to get defenders to look the wrong way.

“The way he designs his plays, the moves and all the different kinds of changes and all that kind of stuff, he makes everybody’s eyes wander,” said Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark, a former standout. from UCLA. “So if your eyes are in the wrong place, if you’re not doing your job or doing what you’re trained to do, he’s able to exploit that.”

INJURY UPDATES

Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) are questionable and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fullback) is doubtful. The Packers expect wide receiver Randall Cobb (core) and offensive tackle Billy Turner (knee) to return from injuries that plagued them for the latter part of the regular season.

49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (concussion), cornerback Ambry Thomas (knee) and defensive end Jordan Willis (ankle) are questionable. Bosa was released from concussion protocol.

DEFEND MORE

Green Bay’s Davante Adams caught 12 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in the Packers’ regular season win over the 49ers.

San Francisco is stronger in the secondary now than it was in September thanks to Thomas’ late-season emergence, but defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans knows slowing down Adams will be a difficult task.

“They’re making it tough because they’re doing a great job moving Davante around,” Ryans said. “He doesn’t stay in one place. He can move in the slot. He can play outside. He is everywhere.

TUNDRA

Saturday’s forecast for Green Bay calls for a high of 19 degrees with a low of 7, although snow is not expected.

49ERS (11-7) at PACKERS (13-4)

WHEN: Saturday, 5:15 p.m.

OR: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

TV/RADIO: Fox (Ch.11), 11:50

OPENING LINE: Packers by 6, according to FanDuel Sportsbook

AGAINST THE SPREAD: 49ers 10-8; Packers 12-5

SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 38-32-1

LAST MEETING: The Packers won 30-28 on Sept. 26 at Santa Clara.

LAST WEEK: The 49ers won, 23-17, at Dallas on Sunday; the Packers got a bye after losing to the Lions, 37-30, in their regular season finale.

49ERS OFFENSE: GENERAL (7), RUSH (7), PASS (12), SCORING (13-T).

49ERS DEFENSE: GENERAL (3), RUSH (6), PASS (6), SCORING (8).

INFRINGEMENT OF CARRIERS: GENERAL (9), RUSH (21), PASS (11), SCORING (13).

DEFENSE OF PACKERS: GENERAL (9), RUSH (12), PASS (9), SCORING (13).

REVENUE DIFFERENTIAL: 49ers minus-4; Packers plus-13

49ERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Samuel. The expanded All-Pro had a minimum of 52 yards from scrimmage — including zero yards on the ground — against the Packers in September, but has since become a much more versatile threat. He had 1,405 receiving yards, 365 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns in the regular season. Samuel rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and also had three catches for 38 yards against Dallas.

PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rogers. He threw 20 touchdown passes without an interception in his last seven games to become the favorite to win his fourth MVP award. He now has a chance to improve on his 11-9 postseason record as a starter, which includes an 0-3 mark against the 49ers.

KEY MATCH: Packers OT David Bakhtiari vs. 49ers DE Nick Bosa. This is based on the assumption that Bakhtiari actually plays. Bakhtiari, a 2020 All-Pro, tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Dec. 31, 2020, and eventually returned to action playing 27 snaps in the Packers’ regular season finale. He is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game. The Packers have been cautious with him in practice in recent weeks. Bosa, who recorded 15½ sacks during the regular season, suffered a concussion against Dallas. Bosa has 4½ sacks in four career playoff games. Bosa was removed from the 49ers injury report on Friday after clearing concussion protocols.

KEY INJURIES: CB Ambry Thomas (knee) and DE Jordan Willis (ankle) are all questionable for the 49ers. … QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder, thumb) and LB Fred Warner are ready to play despite injuries. … Bakhtiari (knee) and CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder) are questionable and WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (back) is questionable. … Packers OT Billy Turner (knee), WR Randall Cobb (core) and OLBs Za’Darius Smith (back) and Whitney Mercilus (biceps) are expected to return from injuries on Saturday. … Packers TE Robert Tonyan and OL Elgton Jenkins are out for the season with knee injuries.

SERIES NOTES: The Packers and 49ers have shared eight previous playoff games. The 49ers have won the last three postseason meetings, including a 37-20 win in the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago. … The 49ers have hosted the Packers in the regular season each of the past three years. The Packers won, 30-28, this year on Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal as time expired and won, 34-17, last season. The 49ers won, 37-8, in 2019. … This is the first time the Packers and 49ers have met at Lambeau Field since the Packers won, 33-30, on Oct. 15, 2018.

STATS AND THINGS: The winner of this game faces either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers would play the NFC Championship Game at home, while the 49ers are expected to hit the road again. … The 49ers are coming off a five-sack performance against Dallas. Charles Omenihu had 1½ sacks in this game. … Gould is 18 of 18 career playoff field goal attempts, the most attempts ever in the postseason without a miss. Gould had kicks for 53, 52 and 40 yards against Dallas. … The 49ers have won their last four Divisional Round playoff games (in the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2019 seasons). Three of the four wins were at home. Their last loss in this round was a 31-6 loss at Tampa Bay in the 2002 season. … The Niners are averaging 195.3 rushing yards per game in four playoff games under Shanahan. … Garoppolo is averaging 149.8 yards per game with four interceptions and two touchdowns in four postseason starts. … The Packers are looking to reach the NFC Championship Game for a third consecutive season. They haven’t reached the Super Bowl since their 2010 championship season. … The last two times he faced the 49ers, Adams caught a total of 22 passes for 305 yards. He scored a touchdown in each of those games. … Rodgers threw multiple touchdown passes in an NFL-record nine straight playoff games. … The Packers are 11-10 in divisional playoff games, including an 8-1 home record. The home loss was suffered by eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in the 2011 season. … The 49ers are 33-21 and the Packers are 36-24 in the playoffs playoffs. Only the New England Patriots (37-22) have a better playoff winning percentage. The Packers’ 36 playoff wins put them in a tie for second place with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one behind New England. … Shanahan and Packers coach Matt LaFleur worked together as NFL assistants with Houston, Washington and Atlanta.

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