The San Francisco 49ers will once again be playing in the NFC Championship game after they dismantled the Green Bay Packers 45-31 this past weekend at Candlestick Park. In convincing fashion, the 49ers displayed dominance on both sides of the ball as they put up 579 yards worth of total offense and held the powerhouse Green Bay offense to 352 yards of total offense. The Packers just never found an answer to the 49ers running game as it kept them on their heels the entire game, and did not allow the Aaron Rodgers led offense to take the field as often as they wanted to.
The 49ers offensive scheme and their dedication to the run was almost unstoppable all night. And though he didn’t lead the team in rushing yards, Frank Gore’s 23 carries for 119 yards opened up the avenues for the rest of the playmakers in the offensive system to become successful. When he is carrying the ball 20 times or more, it forces the opposition’s linebackers to always account for him. On play action and option runs by the quarterback the linebackers have to stick with Gore through to the line of scrimmage, allowing for big runs by the quarterback and open routes by the wide receivers and tight ends. Gore finished the day with a touchdown as well.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had the best game of his career in the win, completing 17 of his 31 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 16 times for 181 yards and two touchdowns. His 181 yards worth of rushing is the most rushing yards by a quarterback in NFL history. And while most of 49ers nation does not want to see him carry the ball that many times per game, it should be noted that he showed great poise in recognizing the opportunities for big plays that the Packers defense was giving him. It is more than likely that the offensive scheme did not plan on him running the ball 16 times, but when opportunities present themselves he has to take advantage of it. In all the 49ers offense ran the ball on 43 occasions, to just 16 rushing attempts by the Packers.
The Packers offense just never got going, though their lack of time on the field had a major effect on their performance. The Packers offense only took the field for 21 minutes and 59 seconds, a stark contrast to the 49ers offense that was on the field for just over 38 minutes. Rodgers for his part was 26 for 39 with 257 yards of passing and two touchdowns in the losing effort. And just 16 carries by the tandem running game for Green Bay did not allow for the offense to become multidimensional, as is one of their keys to success.
This coming Sunday the 49ers will face off against the number one seed Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta for the NFC Championship title and the right to move on to the Super Bowl. One thing is now certain in 49ers nation, if they continue to play at this level it will be very difficult to defeat them.
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