49ers takeaways: What we learned in 37-20 win over Packers for Super Bowl spot

49ers takeaways: What we learned in 37-20 win over Packers for Super Bowl spot


SANTA CLARA – Forget the chartered flight.

The 49ers earned a trip to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. And they are getting there via the ground.

Running back Raheem Mostert had the best day of any runner in 49ers history on Sunday, as coach Kyle Shanahan’s team pounded out a 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.

The 49ers are going to their seventh Super Bowl in franchise history. The 49ers are 5-1 in their Super Bowl appearances.

The 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Feb. 2, for the honor of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Chiefs earned the right to represent the AFC with a 35-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

In the process of advancing to the Super Bowl, Kyle Shanahan takes the 49ers to the league championship game in his third season. He and his father, Mike Shanahan, become the first father-son to coach Super Bowl teams. Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls as coach of the Denver Broncos in 1997 and ’98.

Here is what you need to know about the 49ers’ impressive performance in the NFC Championship Game:

Runnin’ with Raheem

Mostert, apparently, was not good enough to stick with ... the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets and Chicago Bears.

He has found a home with the 49ers, that’s for sure.

Tevin Coleman started Sunday’s game, and about the only thing that went wrong for the 49ers in the first half was his right shoulder injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game and makes it doubtful he will be available to play in the Super Bowl.

Mostert took over as the team’s featured back, and he turned in a day for the ages.

Mostert became the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game. He finished with 220 yards on the ground on 29 rushing attempts. It was not only the best postseason rushing day in 49ers history, it was the best day, period.

Frank Gore previously held the 49ers’ single-game record with 212 yards against the Seattle Seahawks in 2006.

As the 49ers were taking complete control with a 27-0 lead in the first half, Mostert had 160 yards and three touchdowns on 14 rushing attempts. He became the only player in NFL history with 150 rushing yards with three rushing TDs in a half of a playoff game.

Mostert scored on runs of 36, 9 and 18 yards. Then, he added a 22-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

Pummeling the Packers offense

Well, apparently that 49ers’ defensive performance against the Packers in Week 12 was no fluke.

On that day, Green Bay converted none of their 14 third-down attempts with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Rodgers threw for only 104 yards. After accounting for sacks, the Packers had a miserable 84 yards of net passing.

Things were not a whole lot better for the Packers against a swarming 49ers defense in the first half as the 49ers rolled to an insurmountable lead. Defensive end Nick Bosa and nickel back K’Waun Williams had a sack apiece, totaling minus-25 yards. And through one half, Rodgers completed nine of 12 pass attempts for just 65 yards.

Rodgers got some things going in the second half. But by that time, it was much too late. Rodgers finished his day with 31 completions on 39 attempts for 326 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Richard Sherman clinched it with an interception.

[RELATED: 49ers open as slight betting underdogs in Super Bowl LIV]

Was there ever a doubt?

A year ago the 49ers were 4-12. They had the No. 2 overall draft pick.

Now, they are NFC champions.

The 49ers are as healthy as they have been all season, and they looked fresh on Sunday in a complete dismantling of the Packers. It seems that everyone who has gotten a chance has come through for the 49ers.

On Sunday, it was cornerback Emmanuel Moseley who got his first start of the postseason. He was in the lineup to replace struggling Ahkello Witherspoon. Moseley came through with an interception of Rodgers before the half to enable the 49ers to extend their lead to 27-0 after 30 minutes.

It was no overnight success for the 49ers, though. Behind general manager John Lynch and Shanahan, the 49ers have been building for three seasons. One of the big pieces that fell into place was the acquisition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade in the middle of the 2017 season.

But on this day, Garoppolo was just along for the ride. Garoppolo completed just six of eight passing attempts for 77 yards, as the 49ers crushed the Packers’ souls with their running game.

Kicker Robbie Gould, who struggled at times throughout the season, made kicks of 54, 27 and 42 yards. His final field goal gave the 49ers a 17-point lead with 3:31 remaining.

NFLPA votes to recommend no preseason games for 49ers, 31 other teams

NFLPA votes to recommend no preseason games for 49ers, 31 other teams

Will we be seeing any 49ers preseason games in 2020?

The NFL Players' Association doesn't want to participate, as it voted unanimously to recommend there be no preseason games this season in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

As ESPN's Dan Graziano notes above, the NFL reportedly wants to cut the preseason in half by eliminating Weeks 1 and 4. If that ends up being the case, the 49ers will open the 2020 preseason against the Raiders at Levi's Stadium on Aug. 21.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Apprehension on the part of the players is understandable given the ongoing off-the-field issues playing out across the country. Cases of the novel coronavirus have spiked around the nation as states began reopening, with many opting to reverse course and pause the process, including in California.

There is palpable risk for anyone going back to work or traveling across state lines, especially with how many individual people are necessary to the operation of even a preseason NFL game, with or without fans.

[RELATED: NFL rumors: 49ers' Raheem Mostert requested pay raise this offseason]

However, players on the bubble of rosters benefit greatly from the opportunities afforded to them in preseason games, as starting lineups rarely get more than a quarter of action -- if that -- in three out of the four games.

Losing two preseason games or even four will be a detriment to those players fighting for roster spots, but clearly the health and safety of players, coaches and all the other staff involved in an NFL gameday should take precedent.

49ers' Kendrick Bourne 'likes' tweet about David Njoku trade rumors

49ers' Kendrick Bourne 'likes' tweet about David Njoku trade rumors

Kendrick Bourne just wants to see the 49ers offense be the best that it can be.

After NBC Sports Bay Area's Brian Witt published a story Friday arguing that San Francisco should make a trade and pair Njoku with All-Pro tight end George Kittle, Bourne was one of the hundreds who "liked" the tweet (screenshot H/T Brian Witt).

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Njoku requested a trade from the Cleveland Browns on Friday, his agent confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter. His frustration likely comes from Cleveland's decision to sign tight end Austin Hooper to what currently is the largest salary at the position (Kittle is expected to change that) and that the Browns selected a tight end in the fourth round of this year's NFL draft (Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant).

Njoku has one more season remaining on his initial rookie contract. Cleveland already has exercised his fifth-year option for 2021, when he'll make just over $6 million in base salary.

[RELATED: Tom Brady's Joe Montana, Jimmy Garoppolo connection made him 49ers villain]

Kittle's contract situation likely will keep the 49ers from making any major investments for the time being, as the tight end's new deal is expected to reset the free-agent market at the position.

The Browns' reported asking price of a first-round pick would make this a quick conversation for general manager John Lynch, who hasn't shown much willingness to part with any high draft picks in years past.

Nevertheless, fans will continue to clamor for anyone who can help make coach Kyle Shanahan's offense one of the NFL's best.