Why NFL history is for, against 49ers in NFC title game vs. Packers

Why NFL history is for, against 49ers in NFC title game vs. Packers

One game is all that separates the 49ers from a trip to Miami and Super Bowl LIV.

On Sunday, coach Kyle Shanahan's club will face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers, as you might recall, already pantsed the Packers earlier this season, rolling to a 37-8 win. The Packers haven't lost since that demoralizing affair, winning six in a row, including last week's 28-23 NFC divisional-round win over the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau Field.

While Shanahan and the 49ers know the Week 12 beatdown means nothing, recent history actually tells us the 37-8 thrashing portends well for the 49ers' chances of winning Sunday and moving one step closer to Super Bowl glory.

And, no team has made the Super Bowl while being outgained during the regular season since the 2001 New England Patriots. In their just-win 13-3 regular season, the Packers were outgained 5,642-5,528.

That doesn't sound good for the Packers. Rodgers also never has won a game in which he's been at least a touchdown underdog. The 49ers are favored by 7.5 on Sunday.

However, not all the numbers point the 49ers' way.

The Packers are a 13-win regular-season team that enters Championship Sunday as a 7.5-point underdog. That only has happened three other times in NFL history has a 13-win team gone on the road as a seven-plus point underdog on Championship Sunday. All three of the previous teams won the game outright, as the 1990-91 New York Giants, 1998-99 Atlanta Falcons and 1999-2000 Tennessee Titans all went on the road and took home the conference title.

[RELATED: Kittle must take center stage vs. Packers]

Dueling principles should make almost everyone uneasy.

The 49ers were the most complete team in the NFL all season, but if they give Rodgers an opening Sunday their dream season could come to an end. It's imperative the 49ers come out hot, fuel the crowd at Levi's Stadium and put the Packers on their heels from the opening kick. 

Otherwise, they could become just a footnote in Rodgers' Hall-of-Fame legacy.

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.

Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'


Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl loss with 49ers lingers more than Falcons'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kyle Shanahan answered countless questions about losing to the New England Patriots with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV.

The 49ers coach lost again after all the questions, this time to the Kansas City Chiefs. He's grieving all over again and having a more difficult time reconciling this time around. 

“I think this one was harder than the last one,” Shanahan said Tuesday from the NFL Scouting Combine. “The last one was a bigger loss, I mean at the end and stuff. I just thought we were a better team. The hardest thing for me is I thought we were the best team in the NFL.

“And when you really believe that, and I thought it for a while, it wasn’t just like the last couple weeks of the year. In Atlanta, we kind of got hot at the end of the year, so I felt pretty fortunate.”

Shanahan's 2016 Falcons and his 2019 49ers entered the playoffs with a first-round bye.  The difference is that the 49ers started the 2019 season with an 8-0 run, and finished with a 13-3 regular-season record, clinching the No. 1 seed.

The 2016 Falcons, however, had a 5-3 record at the halfway point. Atlanta won its last four straight games to clinch the No. 2 seed, but played two playoff home games only because the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys lost in the divisional round to the Green Bay Packers. 

[RELATED: 49ers want to bring everyone back, but know it will be tough]

The 49ers have come a long way under Shanahan. They had a fourth-quarter lead in the Super Bowl after winning the 10 games the previous two seasons, but it's difficult to focus on the journey following a painful ending. 

“This year I thought we had it,” Shanahan said. “We were the second-worst team in the league last year, and now we got to live with being the second-best, which I’m proud of. But that is harder, because I truly believe it was there for us.” 

NFL rumors: 49ers' DeForest Buckner rejected contract extension last offseason

NFL rumors: 49ers' DeForest Buckner rejected contract extension last offseason

Atop the list of 49ers' offseason priorities sit the prospective contract extensions for tight end George Kittle and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Both players are entering the final year of their current contracts and rank among the best talents at their respective positions throughout the entire NFL.

San Francisco selected Buckner with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he has served as the keystone of the defensive line ever since. He was a critical part of the 49ers' run to Super Bowl LIV, and the team reportedly tried to lock Buckner down for the foreseeable future before the journey to Miami it even got started.

The Athletic's John Middlekauff reported Monday that San Francisco offered Buckner a lucrative extension last offseason, which he ultimately turned down.

"I was told that last year they made a very aggressive offer to him," Middlekauff said on "The Haberman and Middlekauff Podcast." "We're talking in the $60 million range ... Fletcher Cox, years ago, got $63 [million]. They offered less than that, and he said no."

However, Buckner recently took to Instagram to argue against Middlekauff's report.

"When did we start believing everything on the internet," Buckner commented.

Entering his age-25 season in 2016, Cox signed a six-year contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles for $63.3 million guaranteed. Buckner will turn 26 in March, and one could argue he was more productive over his first four NFL seasons than Cox was. Yes, Cox forced two more fumbles than Buckner, but the 49ers' standout started six more games, deflected nearly twice as many passes, recovered one more fumble and totaled 6.5 more sacks.

For that reason, combined with inflation and the fact that the salary cap has risen since Cox signed his extension, it wouldn't be surprising if Buckner sought a higher guaranteed total from San Francisco -- and received it. 

[RELATED: 49ers want to bring everyone back, but know it'll be tough]

Whether or not he already has turned down such an offer is anyone's guess. But it shouldn't be long before we find out exactly how much is guaranteed on Buckner's next deal.

One thing is certain: It's going to be a lot.