Aaron Rodgers

49ers' Emmanuel Sanders was excited to 'manhandle' Packers in run game

49ers' Emmanuel Sanders was excited to 'manhandle' Packers in run game

The 49ers don't simply desire to run the ball down their opponent's throat. They live for it.

San Francisco tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders conveyed as much during the 49ers' 37-20 beatdown of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Levi's Stadium. That final score was a bit deceiving, though, as the Niners led 27-0 at halftime. San Francisco scored on its final possession of the first half after cornerback Emmanuel Moseley intercepted Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay territory. As the 49ers' offense came onto the field following the change in possession, Kittle and Sanders were licking their chops.

"We don't even have to catch the ball," Kittle said, as heard on"Inside the NFL." "We just gotta run."

"We ain't gotta do nothing," Sanders added. "I'm about to start manhandling their a-- in this run game right now. I'm about to start having fun with it."

Have fun with it, they did.

It only took three plays for the 49ers to hit pay dirt, all of which were handoffs to running back Raheem Mostert. He practically went untouched into the end zone, as his offensive line and receivers provided tremendous blocking.

[RELATED: How 49ers fans can purchase Kittle's 'Run it again' T-shirt]

The 49ers averaged the second-most rushing yards per game in the NFL during the regular season, and they've upped their per-game average by another 94.4 rushing yards through two playoff contests. When you're that good at running the ball, clearly it can be a whole lot of fun.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

Matt LaFleur slams Packers for lack of urgency, toughness vs. 49ers

Matt LaFleur slams Packers for lack of urgency, toughness vs. 49ers

No matter how talented you are or what generational star leads your team, in the end, you really do have to want it.

Desire, effort and drive often make the difference between a team that achieves the goals it sets for itself and those that fall short.

Days after the 37-20 beatdown the Green Bay Packers suffered at the hands of the 49ers last Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, coach Matt LaFleur went in on his team for not exhibiting the "give a [bleep] attitude" you need to go on the road and beat a good team.

"I was just disappointed with -- just it didn't seem like we had the same energy and effort that we had displayed throughout the course of the season," LaFleur said Wednesday, via NFL.com.

The 49ers ran the ball right down the Packers' throat, backed all the way out of their esophagus and crammed it down there again in the win that sent the Niners to Super Bowl LIV.

To LaFleur, the game plan wasn't a surprise, but the lack of fire his team showed in getting clowned like Wile E. Coyote chasing Road Runner upset the first-year head coach.

"I think it was a combination of a lot of things," LaFleur said of the loss. "You gotta give San Francisco credit. They definitely out-coached us. I just didn't feel we played with the same urgency, the same tenacity, the same toughness.

"It's disappointing because it's not like we didn't know what they were going to try to do. We knew exactly what they were gonna try to do. We knew they were gonna run the football. For them to be able to do that, was extremely disappointing."

The lack of urgency showed on a key play in the second quarter. With the Packers trailing 17-0 but driving, Aaron Rodgers fumbled the snap. But instead of trying to dive for the ball, Rodgers simply stood there and watched DeForest Buckner recover the fumble for the 49ers. 

[RELATED: Ready to drive, or is Jimmy G just along for 49ers' ride?]

After a 13-3 season that was as unimpressive as they come, Rodgers, LaFleur and the Pack will head back to the drawing board to figure out how to get the legendary quarterback back to the Super Bowl for the first time in a decade.

As for the hyper-focused 49ers, their attention turns to Super Bowl LIV and a date with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and a Kansas City Chiefs team that's sure to pack their sense of urgency for South Beach.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

Why Richard Sherman's NFC title-sealing interception was so fitting

Why Richard Sherman's NFC title-sealing interception was so fitting

SANTA CLARA -- Richard Sherman plays left cornerback in the 49ers' defensive scheme. He doesn’t shadow receivers, but moved around a bit early in Sunday’s NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. He was tracking Davante Adams for a little while to give the Packers something else to think about, but he eventually locked in on the left.

He still matched up with Adams at times, including a fourth-quarter play where Adams beat him badly on a 65-yard bomb down the sideline.

That was a real rarity. Sherman doesn’t get targeted much, and almost never gets torched like that. But, as usual, the veteran cornerback had the last laugh.

He intercepted another deep volley intended for Adams that sealed a 37-20 victory over the Packers that sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

After a raucous postgame celebration where he got a little emotional, Sherman took us all through that play.

“They ran a corner post. We were in quarters coverage,” Sherman said. “I just kept running. I knew it wasn't necessarily my responsibility, but I knew he was going to take the shot there and go for the gusto. Just wanted to track the ball down, give us a chance. I was tracking. I thought it was kind of out of my reach for a while. I was going to go for the bat down. And, as I got my feet under me, I noticed I could get under it and I was able to do it.”

It was a big moment and a quick reversal of fortune for someone who got beat a few plays earlier. But the rebound wasn’t surprising to those who study the 49ers intently.

His fourth postseason interception -- and the second of this playoff run -- filled his teammates with pride. They thought the moment fitting, considering their defensive leader closed out another important game.

“It was awesome,” rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw said. “He looked like a receiver on that play. I’m glad he made up for it, man. The deep ball got him earlier, but he’s a captain on our team and we know you can’t get Richard too many times.

“We knew they needed to go downfield given the score, and he was right there, made the play and got us the victory. I’m excited to play with a guy of that caliber. He’s a legend. I’ve been watching Richard since I was a young kid. To play with him and learn from him is a blessing. It’s a dream come true.”

The play itself was pretty athletic, considering how far he had to run to get the ball. But nobody was surprised he was able to get there and officially close things out.

“It was amazing,” slot cornerback K’Waun Williams said. “To be out there and have Richard finish this game off was great.”

[RELATED: Grading 49ers offense, defense in NFC title win vs. Packers]

Young defenders listen to Sherman closely, and his words can have as much of an impact as his on-field play. The 49ers stayed focused in the second half despite a commanding 27-point lead thanks to practicing what Sherman preaches.

"Sherm has done a great job of keeping our emotions from getting too high,” rookie edge rusher Nick Bosa said. “It really is a long game and a lot of different things can happen. You can’t get overhyped about one play or one series or even a first half. His biggest message was to keep the foot on the pedal the entire game.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday)