SANTA CLARA – San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is adamant that what happened in late November doesn’t come into play on Sunday. However, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur actually was OK with a reminder.
The top-seeded 49ers face the second-seeded Packers in the NFC Championship Game and the contest is a rematch of the regular-season meeting in which San Francisco obliterated Green Bay 37-8 at the same site.
“I think you have to look at everything,” LaFleur told reporters about viewing the unflattering evidence. “You have to learn from your mistakes, so you don’t repeat them.
“I’m going to go back and watch that tape again to really try to grasp what happened and why it happened, and how can we adjust, and what are we going to do to ensure it doesn’t happen.”
What happened in Week 12 included the 49ers limiting Green Bay to 198 total yards. San Francisco harassed Aaron Rodgers into a season-low 104-yard passing performance and sacked him five times.
The domination has Shanahan in the position of guarding against any of his players thinking this time around will be as easy as the first clash.
“Don’t be that stupid,” Shanahan told reporters of his message. “That’s not real. This is about Sunday’s game. … And this is the NFL, so no team, the game before never matters like that. …
“We know it will be different. We know that game got away from them early and that’s definitely not the team we’re going to see this week. Everyone knows how good Green Bay is, how good their coaching staff is, how good their players are, how good their quarterback is.”
The Packers rebounded from the debacle with five straight wins to close the regular season before notching a 28-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in last weekend’s NFC divisional round.
Rodgers passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns, both to wideout Davante Adams, who made eight catches for a franchise-playoff-record 160 yards. Former tight end Jermichael Finley held the mark of 159, set against the Arizona Cardinals during the 2009 postseason.
“It means a lot, but I’m not after the records,” Adams told reporters. “Doing what I do on the field, those will come. I don’t go into a playoff game saying I need a buck-sixty to beat Jermichael Finley.
“If I go out there and have a really good game, that puts us in a better position to win the game, so that’s the goal.”
Adams had a touchdown on seven receptions in the November meeting with San Francisco but totaled just 43 receiving yards.
The 49ers will try to keep Rodgers and Adams under wraps again behind a stout defense that includes veteran cornerback Richard Sherman and rookie defensive end Nick Bosa.
San Francisco’s defense was stellar in last weekend’s 27-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The 49ers allowed only 147 total yards in the win, bottling up star running back Dalvin Cook (18 yards on nine carries) and limiting quarterback Kirk Cousins to 172 passing yards.
San Francisco sacked Cousins six times, with Bosa recording two.
“Obviously making the plays is good,” Bosa told reporters. “But, I mean, I try and bring the same effort, same technique, same everything every week. I got a couple sacks (against Minnesota). That always helps. But most of the plays that I’m most proud of are the plays that weren’t the sacks.”
Offensively, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo passed for just 131 yards — his lowest output of the season — and star tight end George Kittle had just three receptions for 16 yards. Kittle injured an ankle during the game and missed Wednesday’s practice.
While Rodgers still makes the Packers’ attack go, running back Aaron Jones is an important cog. Jones rushed for two touchdowns against the Seahawks after producing 19 (16 rushing, three receiving) during the regular season, which tied for the NFL lead.
Also, right tackle Bryan Bulaga is feeling well after an illness prevented him from playing versus Seattle.
The Packers are in the NFC title game for the first time since the 2016 season, while the 49ers are in the contest for the initial time since 2013.
There also is the Shanahan versus LaFleur storyline. The two coaches worked together on the staffs of three different teams — the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.
LaFleur’s younger brother, Mike, is the passing-game coordinator on Shanahan’s staff.
–Field Level Media