49ers Report Card

49ers grades in comeback divisional-round win vs. Packers

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers on Saturday night played poorly enough to never be in control against the Green Bay Packers.

And they performed just well enough to stick around. And, ultimately, the 49ers made all the clutch plays to enable them to pull out a rousing, rain-soaked come-from-behind victory.

The 49ers' defense, offense and special teams combined their highlights at opportune times in order to keep their 2023 NFL season from coming to an end with a 24-21 victory over the Packers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs at Levi’s Stadium.

“In all three of the phases, I felt we were keeping both teams in the game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

There were times when different areas of the team appeared headed toward failing grades. But the 49ers live to fight another day.

Here are the 49ers’ grades from their improbable victory over the Packers, which sends the franchise to its third consecutive NFC Championship Game:

Rushing offense

The yards did not come easy for Christian McCaffrey, but he got all the ones that mattered.

McCaffrey gave the 49ers some life with a 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Then, he supplied the winning points with a 6-yard scoring run on a third-and-1 play with 67 seconds remaining.

McCaffrey finished with 98 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Even quarterback Brock Purdy got into the act with some big yards, including a 9-yard scramble to set up McCaffrey’s fourth-quarter touchdown. Purdy also gained first downs on two quarterback sneaks.

Grade: B

Passing offense

The 49ers’ passing game was completely out of sync for most of the game. Purdy was missing his targets and he did not appear to be on the same page with his receivers through most of the night.

But in the final six minutes, everything looked a lot more similar to how it did through a season in which he led the NFL with a 113.0 passer rating.

Purdy completed six of seven pass attempts for 47 yards to help lead the 49ers down the field for the winning points. Seldom-used receiver Chris Conley stepped up with Deebo Samuel out and came up with a 17-yard catch on the final drive.

Tight end George Kittle had four receptions for 81 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown reception.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

The 49ers’ run defense did not have a great game from start to finish, but it came up with a huge play at the start of the second quarter.

The Packers led 3-0 and were looking to extend their advantage when Dre Greenlaw made the stop of Packers quarterback Jordan Love on a fourth-and-1 sneak up the middle.

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones had 108 yards rushing on 18 carries, and the Packers averaged 4.9 yards on their 28 rushing attempts. The 49ers must clean up their run defense entering the NFC Championship Game.

Greenlaw and Fred Warner combined for 15 tackles to spark the 49ers’ defense.

Grade: B-minus

Passing defense

There were only two turnovers in this game, and the pass defense came up with both of them. Greenlaw had two interceptions. One set up a long field goal; the other clinched the game in the closing seconds.

What Greenlaw was doing running around while loosely holding the ball after the interceptions is another story.

The 49ers ended up getting the better of Love, who completed 21 of 34 pass attempts for 194 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The 49ers’ pass rush was a disappointment with no quarterback sacks. However, Nick Bosa had five quarterback hits.

Cornerback Ambry Thomas had a particularly rough day in coverage. He had two pass-interference penalties accounting for 48 yards.

Grade: B-plus

Special teams

In keeping with the rest of the team, there were some very good and some very bad.

Rookie kicker Jake Moody had a kick blocked at the end of the first half, but he made a huge one at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Moody’s 52-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter cut the Packers’ lead to 21-17. The kick allowed the 49ers to be in position for the winning points on the final drive.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a solid 40.8 net average on four punts, including two inside the 20-yard line.

The kick coverage had a major breakdown in the third quarter when Keisean Nixon had a 73-yard return that set up the Packers for a touchdown that gave them a 21-14 lead.

Grade: B


Coach Matt LaFleur and his Packers staff put together great game plans on both sides of the ball to make the 49ers look far different than the team that entered the postseason with the No. 1 overall seed.

Of course, the 49ers' plan was far from perfect and there are plenty of decisions to second-guess. But when it mattered the most, Shanahan and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks dialed up the right plays and the right overages at the right times.

Grade: B


And the 49ers live to fight another day.

Through most of the game, it looked as if the 49ers’ season would be coming to an end. The 49ers looked tentative and unsure of themselves. The Packers looked like the better team ... until things changed abruptly in the fourth quarter.

“That’s as grimy as it gets,” Warner said. “That’s big-time win.”

Said Kittle, “When you win in the playoffs, it’s a big deal. It’s hard to do.”

Grade: B

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