49ers’ Super Bowl hopes hinge on improved performance after Green Bay game

The San Francisco 49ers advanced to their fourth NFC championship game in five years after escaping a Green Bay Packers onslaught, 24-21. While they are the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, it’s clearly going to require a Herculean effort by Christian McCaffrey to carry this offense to victory in Sin City. We all know the saying about a win being a win. But not all W’s are created equally. Both NFL No. 1 seeds played on Saturday and, while both won, we left those games with different feelings about Baltimore and San Francisco. One team was dominant and looked the part while the other snuck by. “This is easily … one of the worst games I’ve ever seen him coach” – John Middlekauff. We didn’t get a dominant SF Saturday evening, but what we saw was a team that was able to overcome adversity. Green Bay seemingly had an answer for everything the Niners threw their way. Deebo Samuel, leaving the game with a shoulder injury, didn’t help, but the Packers were on top of their game until the last significant play of the game when Dre Greenlaw sealed it by picking off Jordan Love. Aside from Greenlaw’s two interceptions of Love, Green Bay’s offense had San Francisco’s number all game. They weren’t afraid and went right at them, especially in the run game, which has been a weakness up the middle for SF. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur called a good game and never really let that vaunted 49ers’ defense get settled. Love wasn’t flawless in this game but he still looked confident throughout. Aaron Jones had his way with the Niners’ front seven, rushing for 6 yards per rush for 108 yards. Brock Purdy had a decent game but looked shaken at times during the contest. Without McCaffrey, the Niners are probably at home next week with us watching the Packers in the NFC title game. It wasn’t so much about CMC’s stat line — although he did have a combined 128 yards rushing & receiving — but he made plays when the team needed him to make them. McCaffrey is the key and will be the one to lead this offense to the promised land. The Niners are saying Samuel is “ok,” but we probably won’t know more for another couple of days. even with Deebo on the field, Kyle Shanahan’s offense will need to saddle up and ride CMC to make it back to where they want to be. Defensively, the 49ers must figure it out quickly — especially if the Lions get past the Buccaneers. Detroit is another team that can run and pass the ball and finished the year ranked fifth in rushing and points, then second in passing. Green Bay was able to take advantage of SF in the run and pass game at different points of their divisional-round matchup but, ultimately, those two INTs by Greenlaw were the Packers’ downfall. If the Niners play another sloppy game next week, especially if it’s against the Lions, they might not be as fortunate.