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49ers stun Packers, advance to NFC Championship Game

Robbie Gould hits a 45-yard field goal as time expires and the Niners move on to face either the Bucs or Rams.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) kicks the winning field goal as time expires against the Green Bay Packers in their NFC division playoff game Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) kicks the winning field goal as time expires against the Green Bay Packers in their NFC division playoff game Saturday night at Lambeau Field. [ JEFFREY PHELPS | AP ]
Published Jan. 23|Updated Jan. 23

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Robbie Gould lived up to his reputation.

On a field littered with snow, Gould made a 45-yard field goal as time expired to knock off the top-seeded Packers 13-10 in their NFC division game Saturday night.

Gould has made all 20 of his career playoff field-goal attempts. His latest helped the 49ers complete an improbable comeback by scoring 10 unanswered points in the last five minutes.

“I always trust Robbie. He’s as good as gold, man,” Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “He always is.”

The sixth-seeded 49ers (12-7) continued their postseason hex on Aaron Rodgers and advanced to an NFC Championship Game matchup at either the Bucs or Rams (13-5). Those teams play Sunday in Tampa.

This is the 17th conference championship appearance for the 49ers, the most by a team since conferences were formed in the 1970 merger. The 49ers had been tied with the Steelers.

San Francisco’s win, coupled with the Bengals’ 19-16 victory over the Titans in the AFC division playoffs earlier in the day, marked the first time both No. 1 seeds lost in the division round in the same season since 2010.

“It’s dangerous, man. When a team gets hot, it’s dangerous,” Garoppolo said. “So we’ve just got to keep this thing going, focus on next week now, and keep this thing rolling.”

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Rodgers went 19-of-25 for 221 yards and dropped to 0-4 in career playoff starts against the 49ers. He’s the first quarterback in NFL history to lose four playoff starts to a single opponent.

He enters an uncertain offseason. After skipping the Packers’ mandatory minicamp in a standoff with management, Rodgers said he was uncertain whether this would be his last year in Green Bay. Rodgers said last month he was keeping all options open.

Rodgers didn’t want to speculate on his future Saturday night, though he said he didn’t want to be part of a rebuild if he keeps playing.

“I don’t think it’s fair to anybody or myself to really go down those paths at this point,” Rodgers said. “It’s disappointing, sad and fresh. I’ll have conversations in the next week or so and start to contemplate after that.”

The Packers (13-5) earned the NFC’s top seed for a second straight season and were the league’s only unbeaten team at home. They haven’t made it to the Super Bowl since their 2010 championship season.

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“I just didn’t envision it like this,” said Green Bay’s Aaron Jones, who had nine catches for 129 yards and 12 carries for 41 yards.

San Francisco tied the score with 4:41 left thanks to a breakdown by Green Bay’s special teams, the Packers’ biggest weakness all season.

Jordan Willis’ outstretched left hand blocked a punt by Corey Bojorquez, who was kicking from the front of his end zone. Talanoa Hufanga picked up the ball at the 6-yard line and ran it in to make it 10-10.

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After the Packers went three and out, the 49ers got the ball back at their 29 with 3:20 left and drove into field-goal range. Deebo Samuel delivered a 9-yard run on third and 7 from the Green Bay 38, and the 49ers ran down the clock to set up Gould.

The 49ers are the fourth team since 2000 to win a playoff game without an offensive touchdown and the first since the 2016 Steelers in the division round against the Chiefs.

A.J. Dillon’s 6-yard touchdown run capped a 69-yard drive on the game’s opening possession that put the Packers ahead 7-0. Green Bay’s offense didn’t do much of anything after that.

Green Bay’s special teams fared even worse.

Well before that blocked punt, San Francisco’s Jimmie Ward blocked a 39-yard field-goal attempt from Mason Crosby on the final play of the first half, preventing the Packers from extending their lead to 10-0. The Packers also allowed Samuel to return the second-half kickoff 45 yards, setting up the 49ers’ first field goal.

“We thought our special teams had an advantage in this game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We thought they had an opportunity to possibly win us the game. And to be able to say that and to actually come to fruition ... was huge for those guys and huge for our team.”

San Francisco won by overcoming a brutal start from its offense.

Garoppolo finished 9-of-17 for 105 yards with an interception.

“It took everything,” Garoppolo said. “We knew it was going to. I mean, it was just offense, defense, special teams, everybody stepping up and doing their part. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The temperature at kickoff was 14 degrees with a wind chill of zero, making it the fifth-coldest playoff game in Lambeau Field history. The second half was played amid snow flurries.

––– By STEVE MEGARGEE

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