Aaron Rodgers' postgame message to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo comes true

Aaron Rodgers' postgame message to 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo comes true

Aaron Rodgers knew he and the Green Bay Packers would have to beat the 49ers at Levi's Stadium one way or another to reach Super Bowl LIV.

The star quarterback hoped that would be in Week 12, when the Packers and 49ers met on "Sunday Night Football." It was not the Packers' night, though, as Rodgers fumbled on the fifth play of the game. The 49ers recovered the ball at the Packers' 8-yard line, scored on the next play, and the rout was on. Final score: 49ers 37, Packers 8.

After the game, Rodgers had a message for his counterpart, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Rodgers proved himself prophetic Sunday when he led the Packers to a 28-23 NFC divisional-round playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field, setting up an NFC Championship Game date with Garoppolo and the 49ers next Sunday at Levi's.

The 49ers easily handled the Minnesota Vikings in their divisional-round matchup Saturday, holding Kirk Cousins and Co. to 147 total yards in a 27-10 win

Green Bay flew under the radar all week, with almost everyone dreaming of a third tilt between the 49ers and NFC West rival Seahawks. But it was not to be, as Rodgers shredded the Seahawks on third down and now will head back to the Bay to face the 49ers for the right to go to Miami and Super Bowl LIV.

[RELATED: Super Bowl is 49ers' to lose with Lamar, Ravens out of way]

While the 49ers did dismantle the Packers earlier this season, expect a different type of game next Sunday. While Rodgers was far from his star self this season, he still has the skills to pick apart teams.

It will be matchup rich with history and storyline -- and one Rodgers knew would happen one way or the other.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Bill Belichick's faith in Jimmy Garoppolo all Troy Aikman needed to hear

Bill Belichick's faith in Jimmy Garoppolo all Troy Aikman needed to hear

MIAMI, Fla. -- Eight. That's a number being tossed around a lot this week in Miami ahead of the 49ers' clash with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. 

As has been well-documented, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only was asked to throw the ball eight times in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers. But Garoppolo's lack of attempts wasn't due to lack of confidence from head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers were picking up yards in chunks on the ground against the Packers. No matter what play they ran, Raheem Mostert sliced through the Packers' defense en route to a record-breaking game to send the 49ers to Miami. 

With Mostert and the ground game humming, Garoppolo was able to put it in cruise control and coast to Sout Beach. 

In order to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Garoppolo will, in theory, have to throw a touch more than eight times. Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, who will call the game Sunday on FOX, has all the belief in the world that Garoppolo can make the plays when called upon at Hard Rock Stadium. 

"I understand what happens when you only throw the ball eight times,” Aikman said Tuesday. “I really believe if he’s needed that he’s certainly capable of playing at a really high level. I really think he’s going to have a much bigger impact on this game than what he had the first two [playoff games]." 

Garoppolo had a good season, and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid certainly isn't buying the idea that Garoppolo isn't something to worry about. Frank Clark on the other end didn't sound super impressed with what he's seen from Garoppolo, but the 27-year-old has made plays when it mattered this season. 

He threw for 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading the NFL's second-highest scoring offense. He led game-winning drives in New Orleans against the Saints and at home against the Arizona Cardinals. When called upon, Garoppolo has been nails. 

For Aikman, his belief in Garoppolo is rooted not in what the quarterback has done this season, but in the faith that Bill Belichick had in him to eventually take the reigns from Tom Brady. When Aikman asked Belichick about Garoppolo while the young quarterback still was a New England Patriots, the legendary head coach had unwavering faith that the current face of the 49ers could do everything needed of him. 

"If something were to happen to Tom Brady, he said he felt they could win with Jimmy Garoppolo," Aikman said. "And when Bill Belichick says win, that doesn’t mean win Week 3,” Aikman said. “That means, win it all. I thought it spoke volumes for the respect that he had for him.” 

When Belichick speaks, you listen. 

[RELATED: How Alex Smith helped develop Mahomes during rookie season]

Garoppolo watched Brady and Belichick win two Super Bowls during his time in New England. Soaking in the lessons from a dynastic operation that has spanned two decades. 

Now, the bright lights will shine down on him Sunday as he tries to win the 49ers franchise its sixth Super Bowl title. Something Aikman, and Belichick, believe he can do.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't


Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't

MIAMI, Fla. – Dee Ford lined up offsides in a crucial moment. It cost the Kansas City Chiefs dearly.

The edge rusher understands that, even without constant reminders from the media during Super Bowl week.

What happened in last year’s AFC Championship game was regrettable. He lined up offsides with a minute left and the Chiefs ahead, negating an interception that would’ve essentially sealed victory.

Ford never got a chance to make up for that moment. He was traded to the 49ers this offseason for a second-round pick and subsequently signed a five-year, $85 million contract with $33 million guaranteed.

Ford doesn't think much about that moment anymore, even if Chiefs fans can't let it go. It apparently bothers Chiefs edge rusher Frank Clark, who has ripped Ford several times for the unforced error even though he wasn’t a Chief when it happened. It’s almost like he’s trying to get in Ford’s head before the 49ers and Chiefs clash Sunday in Super Bowl LIV.

That’s not going to work. Ford has long since moved on.

“In this league and in sports in general, you have to have a short memory,” Ford said this week. “I could’ve let that affect me, but that’s not what champions do. That’s not what great players do. At the end of the day, I know what my responsibility was and I held myself accountable. I was able preserver and get over it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help Kansas City, but I was able to help my new team perform well and get to a really good situation.”

Ford is in a great situation, with a big-money contract while working with the NFL’s best defensive front. He admits he’s looking forward to playing the team that drafted him No. 23 overall in the Super Bowl.

“Yeah,” Ford said. “You always want to play your old team. I built a lot of great relationships in Kansas City. It should be fun going up against them.”