The San Francisco 49ers are NFC Championship Game bound for a third-straight season after taking down the Green Bay Packers 24-21 in the Divisional Round. As a result, the team will host the third-seeded Detroit Lions in the conference championship for the first postseason meeting between the two teams since the 1983 season.
San Francisco's victory over the Packers was different than what we've seen from the 49ers over the course of the 2023 season. After trailing for most of the second half, quarterback Brock Purdy completed six-of-seven pass attempts on the way to a 12-play, 69-yard touchdown scoring drive to take control of the game late, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw sealed the win with his second interception of the night. Their ability to put together a come-from-behind victory in inclement weather and with Deebo Samuel sidelined due to injury proved this team can find ways to win in the toughest of situations.
Let's take a look at what national outlets had to say about the 49ers headed into the NFC Championship Game:
NFL writer Eric Edholm
"There were plenty of frayed nerves at Levi's® Stadium on Saturday night, most especially from when Green Bay took the lead again in the third quarter until Dre Greenlaw's 'Get down!' pick ended with him finally getting down. The Packers left a ton of points on the board, and Brock Purdy didn't look right for about 55 of the 60 minutes, but the 49ers survived to earn a playoff victory that was huge for the second-year quarterback and his coach. It felt like the FOX broadcast couldn't get enough of Kyle Shanahan's record (0-30) in games where he's trailed by seven or more points in the fourth quarter. Well, make it 1-30. The Packers had plenty to do with it, failing to capitalize on a number of opportunities. But it was a gut-check game for the Niners, who lost Deebo Samuel to injury in the first half and were having trouble stopping the Packers offense until the fourth quarter. Did a little of their sheen evaporate in the grueling win? Perhaps, but that can all be rectified by taking care of business against Detroit. If Shanahan can reach a second Super Bowl in a five-year span with two different quarterbacks, it would be a feather in his coaching cap."
NFL Writer Jack McKessy
"It took a fourth-quarter comeback against the NFC's bottom seed, but the 49ers are on the doorstep of the Super Bowl for a second season in a row. Running back Christian McCaffrey gashed the Packers' defense for 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries (5.8 yards per carry). It's worth noting San Francisco may be without standout receiver Deebo Samuel, who left the Divisional Round game early with a shoulder injury."
NFL Writer Vinnie Iyer on why the 49ers win it all
"Offense, offense, offense: Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle have been the healthiest offensive skill star support for Brock Purdy. Should Purdy have Deebo Samuel (shoulder) back from the injury that knocked him out of the divisional playoffs, the 49ers are near unstoppable when Purdy is confident and on point throwing to those weapons all over the field.
"The 49ers can then simply pivot to rushing McCaffrey a ton when the matchup calls for it to take pressure off Purdy. The 49ers sometimes seem to almost stop themselves by getting too cute or Purdy succumbing to mistakes when a pass rush does get to him.
"Defensive front seven: The 49ers ideal scenario is getting to the quarterback with a front-four pass rush, led by Nick Bosa off the edge. That allows them to keep seven back in coverage, including rangy linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.
"If they dictate the terms against any offensive line, running game, and short passing game, they can take over a game. When they eat up the run with their healthy beef inside and lick their chops in pursuit of quarterbacks, it's difficult to break that up.
"Their past playoff disappointment: The 49ers know it's disappointing to have only one recent Super Bowl appearance — a loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 — based on how successful the Kyle Shanahan era has been offensively and defensively. There's a sense they are overdue to lift the Lombardi Trophy with this group to end their 28-year title drought. The 49ers were determined and focused after last year's injury mess against the Eagles to return to the championship game, and there are a couple more games left before their goal is complete."
NFL Writer David Helman
"I debated dropping the 49ers, but at the end of the day, it's such a huge collection of talent on that team. It was raining in Santa Clara Saturday night. That's not expected in the forecast this weekend. I think they have a great chance to advance to their first Super Bowl since that 2019 season."