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Green Bay 27, San Francisco 17 // CRASH!

Perhaps you recognized the game by its style. The quick passes slicing up a secondary. The mobile quarterback evading the rush. The relentless offense clicking like a machine.

Yep, that was the San Francisco 49ers' game all right.

And there they were, getting beaten by it.

The 49ers were eliminated from the NFL playoffs by a mirror Saturday. More precisely, they were beaten, 27-17, by a team running their offense better, running their defense better, and using their coaches better.

The upstart Green Bay Packers, glorious plagiarizers they are, out-49ered the 49ers Saturday afternoon. This time, the quarterback of the hour was not Steve Young but Brett Favre. The coach was not George Seifert but Mike Holmgren, his former assistant. The team that will play in the NFC Championship Game isn't the 49ers, but the Packers.

"It was us against the world," Packers wide receiver Robert Brooks said. "No one gave us a chance to win this game. No one even gave us a chance to be in it."

Well, not much of a chance, anyway. The 49ers were 9{-point favorites.

Yet Green Bay ruled from the outset. The Packers gained 177 of the game's first 188 yards, kept the ball 10:05 of the first 10:47 and at one point led 21-0.

Why was San Francisco on its back so quickly? Probably because of its backs.

The 49ers managed to win most of the season despite a patchwork backfield, pieced together since William Floyd's injury. But Saturday it caught up to them:

On the 49ers' first play, Steve Young completed a pass to running back Adam Walker, who has been cut nine times by various teams. Walker _ who had dropped or fumbled the ball on eight of the previous 10 times he touched it _ fumbled when hit by Wayne Simmons. Rookie Craig Newsome picked up the ball and ran 33 yards for a 7-0 Packers lead.

On the 49ers' second possession, running back Derek Loville ran twice for 1 yard. Young then threw him an incomplete pass. Green Bay quickly moved for its second touchdown.

On the 49ers' third possession, Loville carried one time for minus-3 yards. San Francisco punted, and Green Bay scored for a 21-0 lead. From then on, the 49ers were playing catch-up and the Packers were playing the clock.

"I think our best run today was the quarterback sneak," Young said.

Not much doubt there. Young rushed for 77 yards. His teammates rushed for 10 more. For all the talk of Deion Sanders, it appeared the 49ers missed Ricky Watters more.

The entire burden was on Young's shoulders, and he threw 65 times. He completed 32 for 328 yards, but he was sacked three times and intercepted twice.

"We did everything wrong," 49ers receiver Jerry Rice said. "We had to get out of our offense, and they knew it."

The Packers had little trouble moving the ball. Favre hit 18 of his first 20 passes, outshining Young and showing why he was named MVP this season. He hit one tight end, Keith Jackson, for a 3-yard touchdown and another, Mark Chmura, for a 13-yarder.

Favre finished with 21 completions in 28 attempts for 299 yards.

"This game was really a shock," 49ers linebacker Gary Plummer said.

San Francisco struggled to get back in the game, but its running game betrayed it again. The 49ers had a first and goal at the 4 just before halftime. But with no running game, they had to settle for a field goal.

"That was the big turning point," Young said.

The victory was particularly sweet for Holmgren, who grew up in San Francisco and coached with the 49ers before moving to the Packers.

"It was a very emotional week for me," he said. "It was like a dream come true, and yet it was so odd."

Perhaps the oddest thing is the Packers will continue another week, the first time since 1967 Green Bay has made it past the second round of the playoffs.

If Philadelphia upsets Dallas today, Green Bay will be home next week. Otherwise, it will play the Cowboys for the third straight year in the playoffs.

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