The NFC's top-seeded San Francisco 49ers will host the second-seeded Green Bay Packers in a winner-takes-all battle at Levi's® Stadium on Sunday. With both teams eyeing a trip to Super Bowl LIV, here's what coaches and players from the 49ers and Packers are saying ahead the game.
Kyle Shanahan on playing the Packers a second time:
"They were a pretty good team before we played them last time. I think that game just got away from them with the turnover to start and things like that. They played the same way they played all year. They just had one bad game. They have been a tough team offensively and defensively all year and done a good job not turning it over and their defense has kept people from scoring."
Shanahan on drawing from the 49ers history:
"I think it helps with the age I'm in, I was born in '79, so I remember the Niners throughout the 80s growing up and I was here with my dad in '94 when they won that Super Bowl. I think just being around it I knew exactly how special it was. But, I think people from my generation, also, when they think of teams, the big-time teams, it was the Niners, the Cowboys, you've got baseball, you've got the Yankees and the Red Sox and from growing up with me, basketball, it was always the Bulls, a little bit before the Celtics, but Detroit. I think you have those teams and that's what the Niners have always been. You know, been a few down years, I think since '12 or whenever it was, but that does happen, too. We knew we had to build this up and get back here, but we knew how good of an organization it was and when you do have a good organization, usually those tough times don't last. If you can just stay the course and be a little bit patient."
Shanahan on playing a wide receiver like Davante Adams:
"I think you've got to understand when they target him, what type of coverages they go to him in, down and distance, things like that. There are lots of things to look into to try to figure out why and when. But, yeah, things like that."
Shanahan on the 49ers team chemistry:
"I thought we had some pretty good chemistry last year and we didn't do that well. I felt it strong this whole offseason. I think as you go through a season together and you have a lot of experiences, and most of those have been pretty positive this year, I think it only gets stronger. I think we were pretty special going into the year and based off how this year's gone, I think it's gone extremely strong."
Shanahan on if the Packers adding Za'Darius and Preston Smith transformed their defense:
"Yeah, they added two very good players, which anytime you add two good pass rushers it makes the defense a lot better. I think we went against them last year and they were a tough defense. Bringing in those two new guys has made it that much tougher. And they just continue to get better and better throughout. They've invested in some draft picks in the secondary and those guys have all grown. And having (Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator) Mike (Pettine) there going into his second year, he's done a great job with the defense, and the whole package has gotten a lot better, and it's so tough to go against. And those two guys probably were the icing on top of the cake."
QB Jimmy Garoppolo on what he learned about playing in the playoffs during his time in New England:
"I just tried to see things from afar. Obviously not being on the field, it's a little different, but just the preparation that goes into it, the atmosphere in the locker room, the atmosphere in the whole building, really. I felt it very similar to there, I feel it here, and it's just, not trying to compare the two teams, but it's just when you get into that playoff atmosphere and it's an NFC Championship Game, things get amped up and you have to do the same."
Garoppolo on the Packers pass rushers:
"They are long, explosive off the ball. They have some awkward movements to them I guess, but they make it work, and so the two of them together, it's a hell of a tandem."
Garoppolo on the challenges of facing a team twice:
"Yeah, whenever you have to do that, it's always different the second time. It's a lot of the cat and mouse, we think they're going to do this, they think we're going to do that type of thing, and just the back and forth with it. At the end of the day, you've got to go out there and play and react to what's happening on the field."
DL Nick Bosa on Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga:
"Just another really good tackle. Whenever you're a veteran, I feel like being a veteran at tackle is probably the most advantageous because of all the savvy little tricks they have. I mean, he's faced tons of good rushers over the years, just like their left tackle. It's going to be even more difficult with him on the field."
Bosa on if preparing for the Packers run game is similar to preparing for the Vikings:
"It's definitely similar, but they have a lot of little wrinkles that they add in to try to get the edge. Their running back likes to bounce it outside. But the principles are the same. Play the same technique, same everything. Just have to be more physical."
WR Emmanuel Sanders on the importance of team chemistry:
"It's very important. Last week Kyle, he pretty much gave a speech to the team and sometimes in this league, you come to work and you clock in, you clock out, and truthfully, I enjoy being around these guys. The speech that Kyle gave was that there's so much love between this team and how much we care about each other and I looked around, I looked at Deebo Samuel, I looked at Kendrick Bourne, I looked at the receiver corps; I said, 'Man, I genuinely do love these guys.' It's a great group of guys to go to work with every day; a fun group of guys to go to work with. I feel like when you have that kind of chemistry, and it's all throughout this team and all throughout this organization, I feel like when you have that, the sky is the limit. We're not in this position- it's not a coincidence, you know. We worked our butts off on the field and off the field and I feel like we are deserving of this moment and we've got to take advantage of it."
T Joe Staley on the 49ers culture under Shanahan and John Lynch:
"I think we've talk about a lot of times, kind of as a cliché in the NFL, is it's a family. This is a really, really close locker room. It really is special. I've been a part of my 13th NFL team, and every year is different and this one is really special as far as the camaraderie in the locker room. Guys are showing up to play every single week, coming to work every single day and looking to get better. It's a special bunch."
Staley on what he tells the younger members of the team going into the NFC Championship:
"It's the same exact statement and stuff I said last week. You know, the playoffs might seem like it's a bigger deal and there are more eyes on you and a lot of this stuff creates maybe some anxiety in the younger players that haven't been there but, it's the same exact game. It's the same exact thing. We're a special team and we just go out there and execute the game plan and have a great week of practice and all that other stuff we'll handle."
Staley on the history between the 49ers and Packers:
"We've had a lot of games and had some big games in the playoffs and whatnot. Seem to find each other all the time during the regular season, as well. A team that we are familiar with and we've had a lot of great battles with throughout the years during my playing career here. But you know, this is a completely new game and it's one game at a time. We are expecting their best and we are expecting to have a good, physical game on Sunday."
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh on what makes Adams so tough to cover:
"He's very strong. He's a very good route runner. He's got great hands. He's got a saltiness to him where he's really good in double moves. He just kind of lulls you to sleep. But, he's savvy, and him and (Green Bay Packers QB) Aaron (Rodgers) have a really good relationship. They've got a good rapport with one another, so they're very comfortable. They know where each other is going to be. Just the whole combination of the routes they have for him and all the different things they ask him to do, it's a good match, and he's very talented."
Saleh on the importance of Jimmie Ward's play in limiting the opposition's explosive plays:
"Jimmie's versatility, I don't know if there's, I don't want to blur it, but there's not a lot of free safeties like him who are an exceptional cover guy along with the range he has in the middle of the field and his ability to do different things and the instinctiveness that he plays with, the physicality that he plays with. Knock on wood for him, we've always said that if he could stay healthy, people would recognize how special he is, and he's just got to continue staying the course, keep taking care of his body, keep doing the things he's doing. But, having his versatility is always an asset."
CB Richard Sherman on how tough it is to prepare to play Rodgers:
"Well, he throws an incredible football. He has a quick release. He's very accurate. He throws a great deep ball. He's mobile. He's great at diagnosing defense. He has all the tools that you look for in an elite quarterback, and he's done it for a number of years."
TE George Kittle on the key to getting open against zone coverage:
"Yeah, I mean, getting open, I think you get better at once you start playing a lot. But yeah, I mean, zones are just kind of a feel thing. I actually got better at zone, like finding spots in zones watching (WR) Trent Taylor because I think he's absolutely incredible at it and definitely a guy that we've been missing. I would love to have him back. But yeah, it's just something you get better at just watching tape. You see where guys drop, but mostly just a feel thing. You've just got to find a soft spot, and what's awesome about Jimmy is he's got such a quick release, he's going to hit you, and you've just got to drop, set and get vertical."
Kittle on taking pride in being a run blocker:
"I mean, I take pride in my run game. That's how I grade myself in games. Passing yards and receiving yards take care of themselves. So yeah, I mean, I take pride in it. I mean, if we do better with me on the field or not, it's whatever, I'm just going to go out there every single play and try my best. We did a pretty good job of that last week."
LB Fred Warner on going up against Packers running back Aaron Jones:
"Yeah, Aaron has been fantastic all season, very explosive runner. I feel like he's very dynamic. They use him a lot of ways, so I think they're for sure going to want to get the ball in his hands come Sunday."
Warner on what he learned from the matchup against the Packers in Week 12:
"That we did well, we stopped the run, obviously, which we try to do every week. It's easier said than done. But I think they kind of went away from the run early on, so it turned into a matter of our guys up front trying to get home and them trying to complete passes down the field. And so I think it was a full team win, though. Our offense did an outstanding job throughout the game. Special teams made plays, too. We're looking to have a complete game this time around."
DL DeForest Buckner on what makes Rodgers so difficult to defend:
"Yeah, he still can extend plays. Obviously getting outside the pocket. He's really good in the pocket with knowing where the rush is at, and trying to -- getting out of the way and everything. So, he can make guys miss and also get outside the pocket and make you pay, kind of like (Seattle Seahawks QB) Russell Wilson does. We just need to kind of really go, really take it one play at a time and go with the same mindset we had the last time we played them and also last week. I felt like the guys took it personal, telling themselves that they weren't going to be blocked. We have to have that same mindset going into this game."
Packers head coach Matt LaFleur on facing the 49ers a second time:
"That last game was a long time ago. I think both teams have come a long way since then. You certainly take a look at it and try to take bits and pieces from it, but there's a lot of tape on them. We know what we have to do. It's going to be a great challenge. They're a great football team, they have been all year long. They've got great coaches. We're just focused on our preparation and trying to be the best that we can be because we're going to need it come Sunday."
LaFleur on the 49ers running backs:
"They can just keep cycling through guys and send fresh guys at you. I think all those runners are really good, they're really explosive. They're not only zone anymore, they've definitely mixed in a ton of gap schemes. They're very disciplined in their reads. They press the line of scrimmage and then they hit. They're powerful. They get downhill. It always seems to me that they're finishing forward."
LaFleur on defending George Kittle:
"He's a great player. He makes plays all over the place. What's so impressive about George is he doesn't only do it in the pass game. He's so efficient in the run game. I think he's the most complete tight end in the National Football League. I love watching this guy play. Just the emotion he plays with. The energy. He's a big part of that football team. We've got to make sure that we do our best to try and contain him as best as we can. He's going to get his touches. He's going to get his yards. What we can't get beat on is the big play, when they ran the keeper corner post last time we played them for a touchdown. Just got to do our best to eliminate those types of plays."
QB Aaron Rodgers on the Packers offensive week of preparation:
"I think we all like the plan. It was a good week of practice. Obviously, I don't think it was the plan's fault last time, it was the execution. We were so bad on third down and we let them get after us up front. In the pass game, I turned the ball over. A lot of things that didn't go well the last time definitely want to fix that. Feel good about the week of preparation, the play and the focus of the guys."
Rodgers on the matchup between Sherman and Adams:
"We're not exactly sure what they're going to do. If they're going to move Sherman around. It seemed like they did that with him with (Minnesota Vikings WR Adam) Thielen a little bit and kind of rolled some coverage at times to (Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon) Diggs. Their defense is so talented and savvy. It's not a super complex scheme where they're going to throw a number crazy blitzes and coverages. They're so good in their base coverages. They've been able to dominate, at times, doing just that. I'm not sure if they're going to move Sherm around, but we're for sure going to move Davante around."
RB Aaron Jones on why it was so difficult to get the offense going against the 49ers in Week 12:
"Just little errors here and there. Communication errors. Things that we did to ourselves, not what they did to us. Things we feel like we could correct."
Jones on the 49ers defense:
"I would definitely say that it's one of the better defenses we've played. They swarm to the ball. They get after it. They take the ball away. They have a great defensive front. Some good linebackers. They have a good defense."
WR Davante Adams on what challenges the 49ers defense presents the Packers when they only rush four:
"It puts a little added pressure on me as far as getting open, finding a hole or beating my guy man-to-man, whatever it is. Like you said, when they only send four (pass rushers) it allows more to be in coverage and it's tougher to find those holes. I try to put that onus on me to go out there, get open and give Aaron a nice place to go with the ball. I can only get as open as I can. I'm not going to be a superhero, but do as much as I can as far as making sure I beat a guy and give him a good look."
Adams on facing Sherman:
"He's definitely a great player. People have said a lot about whether he's fell off or whatever. I don't see that. I see that he's still the same guy, still making plays and a respectable corner. The way I attack is just like every other guy. I don't try to change anything because you've got a little bit more talent than the next guy. I just try to play my game and make you play my game. Hopefully that changes the way you go about your business."