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49ers Outlast Packers in Wild Card Duel, Advance

Posted Jan 5, 2014

After a 23-20 win in Green Bay, the fifth-seeded 49ers will now visit No. 2 Carolina in the NFC Divisional round of the postseason next week.


The quest continues.

The 49ers bested the Packers, 23-20, on a field goal with three seconds left to finish off the NFL’s Wild Card weekend on Sunday afternoon in Green Bay and keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.

With single-digit temperatures that crept toward zero after kickoff and frozen brown grass at historic Lambeau Field, San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick bested his boyhood team with his legs – and his arm. After running for 181 yards and passing for 412 yards in his last two games, both wins, against the Packers, Kaepernick finished this one with 227 yards in the air and 98 more on the ground.

With his arm: Kaepernick found wideout Michael Crabtree for a 17-yard gain to convert 3rd-and-10 and push the 49ers to midfield with four minutes remaining.

With his legs: Kaepernick ran 11 yards to convert 3rd-and-8 and push the 49ers to the Packers 27-yard line with less than two minutes left.

A 33-yard field goal by dependable kicker Phil Dawson ended it.

"Our guys have done this before," Jim Harbaugh said postgame of the late-game back-and-forth. "We generated a lot of toughness."

Kaepernick and the fifth-seeded 49ers will now visit the No. 2 Panthers in the NFC Divisional round of the postseason next week. San Francisco fell to Carolina, the NFC South regular season champ, 10-9 in Week 10.

Harbaugh and his team entered the game with three straight wins over the Packers. A fourth saw Harbaugh become the first NFL coach since 1970 to win 13 or more games, including the playoffs, in each of his first three seasons.

PHOTO GALLERY:  49ers vs. Packers

Kaepernick, who went sleeveless, came out throwing on the 49ers first drive after his defense forced the Packers game-opening three-and-out.

Kaepernick tossed to Crabtree for gains of 14 yards and 13 yards before a 31-yard connection on 4th-and-6 pushed the line of scrimmage to the four-yard line. Three plays later, Dawson executed a 22-yard field goal attempt for an early 3-0 edge.

Crabtree would finish the game with eight receptions for 125 yards, both game highs.

After another Packers three-and-out – defensive tackle Ray McDonald and outside linebacker Aldon Smith sacked Aaron Rodgerson their first pass play – the 49ers rode their running game to another short three-point try. Dawson’s boot from 25 yards out gave the team a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.

San Francisco’s defense, playing without cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring), forced a third straight Green Bay three-and-out thanks to its pass rush. Rodgers and Co. were backed up five yards on a first-down drop-back, when Smith and fellow linebacker Ahmad Brooks, sacked and popped the ball loose from Rodgers’ grasp.

The Packers managed just six yards of offense in the opening quarter.

Four plays into the second, however, the home team got its first break. Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams kept the 49ers out of the red zone by jumping in front of tight end Vernon Davis to intercept a Kaepernick-spun floater.

Kaepernick had not been picked off since Week 14.

Green Bay employed the no-huddle offense to shift momentum. And, with less than six minutes before halftime, jumped ahead, 7-6, finishing a 14-play drive with a five-yard scoring toss from Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.

Kaepernick came back. Against the same team he beat for a league-record 181 rushing yards in last season’s divisional round, San Francisco’s quarterback scampered 42 yards down to the 15-yard line on the 49ers next drive.

Two plays later, at the 10, Kaepernick handed to Frank Gore on a read-option play for a touchdown response.

The 49ers entered intermission with a 13-10 advantage following Mason Crosby’s last-second, 34-yard field goal.

The teams traded fourth-quarter touchdown drives early in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay fullback John Kuhn scored from one yard out with just over 12 minutes left. Two plays earlier, Rodgers escaped the grasp of McDonald and found wideout Randall Cobb for a 26-yard gain. Replays showed McDonald being held by Rodgers' blocker.

San Francisco responded with 10:31 remaining. After Kaepernick tip-toed the sideline for a 24-yard gain to the Packers 33-yard line, he threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Davis.

Davis now has six scores in six postseason games. His latest gave the 49ers a 20-17 lead.

Crosby tied the score at 20 with a 24-yard field goal and 5:06 showing on the scoreboard clock.

That's when Kaepernick took over once more.

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