49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo-Emmanuel Sanders chemistry on display in 49ers' win

Jimmy Garoppolo-Emmanuel Sanders chemistry on display in 49ers' win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Some relationships take a time to flourish but that is not the case with Jimmy Garoppolo and Emmanuel Sanders, who have immediately gotten in sync in just nine days. 

The most impressive display of their instant chemistry happened midway through the third quarter of the 49ers' 28-25 win over the Cardinals on Thursday when San Francisco's offense had a third-and-4 situation. Garoppolo took the snap from the shotgun and as the pocket began to close, he delivered a pass to Sanders who caught it just as he was coming out of his break and looking for the ball. 

“Yeah, what a throw by Jimmy,” Sanders said. “It was one of those throws that, obviously I made the play, but I couldn’t even take the credit. I couldn’t even pound my chest. I just had to point at Jimmy because that was definitely a ‘Dilfer Dime’

"It was just so easy. Literally, I turned my head and the ball fell in my lap. Jimmy was on fire tonight.” 

Coach Kyle Shanahan is normally pretty non-plussed by individual plays as a result of his high expectations, but even he made note of the connection between his quarterback and newly acquired wide receiver. 

“Yeah, that one towards the sideline,” Shanahan said. “I was right by it. He had to push a little bit extra on it for depth just to get away from Patrick [Peterson]. Jimmy let it go early. I had a clean view of it. I didn’t think he was going to get his head around and right when he did, it hit him right in the chest, it was impressive, by both of them.” 

Garoppolo finished the night completing 28 of his 37 targets for 317 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers. His performance gave him a 136.9 rating and the best statistical night of his career. 

Sanders led the team in receiving, catching seven of his nine targets for 112 yards and his second touchdown in as many games. In just over a week, Garoppolo has learned how to read and trust his new receiver. 

“Just his body language on routes,” Garoppolo said. “I can kind of anticipate what he’s going to do and I think we got room for improvement but I’m pretty happy with where we’re at.” 

Shanahan knew that Sanders would immediately help Garoppolo and the offense be more productive but noted that the receiver has performed beyond his initial prediction. 

“When you’re watching him, you always know he’s a pro,” Shanahan said. “He’s even been better than expected since he’s been here with how unbelievably smart he’s been in picking up the offense and going out there that much, especially here on a short week. That game would have been real tough without him.”

[RELATED: Watch Jimmy G hit Sanders for touchdown]

Garoppolo was equally effusive in his compliments towards Sanders. The two have put in some extra time on the field together building their chemistry but their ability to have it immediately translate on the field is not ordinary. 

“He’s savvy,” Garoppolo said. “He knows what to do, feels space when it’s zone and he beats the guy when it’s man. It’s a nice combination. He’s so smart that he just does things, that as a quarterback, you love to see and it makes it easy on you to throw the ball to him.”

49ers-Packers odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks in NFL playoff game

49ers-Packers odds, predictions: Betting lines, picks in NFL playoff game

With the 49ers' Week 12 thrashing of the Packers in mind, Vegas oddsmakers have made San Francisco heavy favorites over Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Back on Nov. 24, the 49ers took it to Aaron Rodgers and Co., beating the Packers 37-8.

But Sunday's game at Levi's Stadium isn't setting up to be as easy for the 49ers. The Packers are rolling, having won six straight games dating back to the regular season.

Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history and he will want to avenge that 29-point drubbing from earlier in the season.

But the 49ers' defense is fully healthy with Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt all ready to go for the NFC title game.

The winner gets a trip to Miami for Super Bowl LIV, where the winner of the Titans-Chiefs AFC Championship Game will await them.

It's going to be a classic under the bright lights in Santa Clara.

[RELATED: How to watch 49ers-Packers]

LINE

Caesars: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
Consensus: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
Westgate: 49ers -7.5 (-110)
Wynn: 49ers -7 (-120)

PREDICTIONS

Nick Wagoner, ESPN.com: 49ers 30, Packers 20
Rob Demovsky, ESPN.com: Packers 28, 49ers 27
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Packers 24, 49ers 21
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: 49ers 28, Packers 13
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: 49ers 30, Packers 26
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Packers 27, 49ers 26

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

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 6:30 p.m.

49ers vs. Packers live stream: How to watch NFL playoff game online, on TV

49ers vs. Packers live stream: How to watch NFL playoff game online, on TV

The 49ers have a golden opportunity to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 2013.

With a win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, the 49ers would head to Miami for Super Bowl LIV to take on the winner of the Titans-Chiefs AFC Championship Game.

San Francisco opened as seven-point favorites, but that number has risen to -7.5 in recent days.

Injuries hampered the 49ers for most of the season, but they will enter the game against the Packers with a clean bill of health. Similarly, the Packers only have one player listed on their injury report.

Back in Week 12, the 49ers thrashed the Packers, 37-8, in Santa Clara. But no one is expecting San Francisco to cakewalk over Green Bay this time.

In that Nov. 24 matchup, vaunted 49ers defense held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 198 yards of total offense. Rodgers completed 20 of 33 passes for just 104 yards. San Francisco will need another performance like that if they want to play on Sunday, Feb. 2 in sunny Florida.

[RELATED: Five 49ers to watch vs. Packers]

Here's how to watch the 49ers-Packers NFC Championship Game:

When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET/3:40 p.m. PT
TV: FOX
Stream: FoxSports.com

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

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 6:30 p.m.