Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

49ers nip Packers in NFC wild-card game

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Under pressure, in sub-zero weather, Colin Kaepernick kept his cool.

Facing a blitz on third and 8, the elusive 49ers quarterback scrambled 11 yards out of trouble to set up Phil Dawson's 33-yard field goal as time expired for a 23-20 win Sunday over the Packers in an NFC wild-card game.

Doesn't matter where or when, the 49ers keep figuring out how to beat Green Bay.

"Didn't think we were going to pull it out, did you?" San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said.

When Kaepernick and the 49ers face the Packers, the game is never over. Even in the meat locker called Lambeau Field, where the temperature at kickoff was 5 degrees, with a wind chill of minus-10.

No sweat for Kaepernick. He went sleeveless, and he didn't wear gloves either.

"I've played in cold-weather games before," he said. "I feel like it's more mental than anything."

San Francisco plays at Carolina on Sunday in the division round.

Kaepernick threw for 227 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis, and ran for 98. Michael Crabtree had eight catches for 125 yards for San Francisco.

In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the 49ers (13-4) threw the final punch. Kaepernick escaped a blitz to get to the 27 with 1:13 left.

"Just trying to figure out a way to get that first down," he said. "Had a play called, we didn't get the look that we wanted. It worked out for us."

Dawson nailed the winning kick five plays later — but only after nearly being blocked by edge rusher Davon House. He was whistled for being offside anyway, so had he blocked it, the 49ers would have re-kicked.

Mason Crosby's 24-yard field goal tied it at 20 for the Packers (8-8-1) with 5:06 left.

After a slow start, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers threw for 177 yards and a touchdown.

"Very disappointing, personally," Rodgers said. "It's frustrating not to play your best game in tough conditions. Defense holds them to 23 points. We should win that game."

Eddie Lacy ran for 81 yards on 21 carries for the Packers, and Frank Gore had 66 yards and a score on 20 carries for the 49ers.

But Kaepernick again was the difference-maker in San Francisco's fourth straight win over Green Bay. He was 16-of-30 with the TD and an interception. For the second year in a row, the Packers' season started and ended with losses to the 49ers.

In a memorable playoff debut last January, Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards and two scores. In the opener in September, he threw for a career-best 412 yards and three scores.

"It was unbelievable, the way he was getting the edge. I mean, just clutch," Harbaugh said. "Colin Kaepernick, I think we can all agree, is a clutch performer."

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