49ers

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.

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.