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Other Week 20 Game Recaps

Week 20 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 20, San Francisco 49ers 37

What you need to know

Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 37-20 in the NFC Championship game last Sunday. Aaron Rodgers completed 31 of 39 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Aaron Jones rushed the ball 12 times for 56 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. Jamaal Williams had a quiet day, carrying the ball three times for six yards while also catching one pass for zero yards. Davante Adams led the Packers in all receiving categories, catching nine passes for 138 yards on 11 targets. Alan Lazard caught three passes for 36 yards, and Geronimo Allison caught two passes for eight yards. Jimmy Graham had his second straight solid performance, catching four passes for 59 yards on five targets.

San Francisco 49ers

For the second consecutive week, San Francisco correctly relied more and more heavily on a running game that was in the midst of thoroughly manhandling the opposition. Last week it was Tevin Coleman's turn to score multiple rushing touchdowns; this week it was Raheem Mostert's. About that, Coleman dislocated his shoulder in the second quarter. Also on the injury front, although it appeared to tweak his surgically repaired right knee, Garoppolo was able to finish the game looking no worse for the wear. And besides, how many good knees do you need to turn around and hand the ball off every play?

Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 39 - 326 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0
Aaron Rodgers completed 31 of 39 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. This game got away from Green Bay early on, and when the second quarter ended, they were down 27-0. The 49ers offense straight ran over the Packers defense, using Raheem Mostert to the tune of 29 carries, 220 yards and four touchdowns. Even if Rodgers was at the top of his game, there just wasn’t enough opportunities for the Packers to come back from a 27 point deficit. This is especially true given the fact that Rodgers does not trust a receiver unless they are Adams, which limits his ability to take shots down the field, or trust that a receiver will go up and make a play on the ball without it being intercepted. Rodgers and the Packers offense started out by punting three straight times, then Rodgers lost a fumble and threw an interception on the Packers next two drives. Then they punted for the fourth time in the first half, sending their Super Bowl hopes away with the punt. Rodgers first touchdown pass came with the Packers facing a first and goal from the Titans nine yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and looked to his left immediately, locking the 49ers secondary into looking to the left side of the field. Rodgers then looked off the defense one last time before dumping the ball off to Jones who as set up on a running back screen. Jones caught the ball, pivoted up the field and made a subtle cut to the middle of the field before crossing the goal line untouched for the nine yard touchdown. Rodgers second touchdown catch came with the Packers facing a second and goal from the Titans eight yard line. Prior to this play though, Rodgers managed to hit Adams for a 65 yard gain, going form their own 13 yard line to the 49ers 22 yard line. It was one of the most beautiful rainbow throws I’ve ever seen Rodgers make, which is saying a lot considering Rodgers penchant for completing Hail Mary’s. Adams ran a straight go-route while gaining inside position on his defender that ended up giving him the room to run past him. Rodgers throw was an interesting motion to say the least, as Rodgers had both of his feet off the ground directly after throwing the pass, an indicator of the type of momentum he needed to get the right air under the ball. With Adams on a dead run, the ball dropped out of the sky and into his hands which were outstretched in front of him. Adams made a nice over the shoulder grab, and it was just as pretty a play as you can imagine from the Rodgers to Adams connection. With the Packers facing a first and goal from the eight yard line, Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and received a clean pocket from his offensive line for three seconds. With Rodgers seeing nothing, he started to scramble, first to his left, and then all the way back to the right. When Rodgers escaped the pocket to his right, Jace Sternberger was cutting off his route and working the back end zone line trying to find a crease for Rodgers to throw into. Sternberger managed to escape his defender and get open on the back line, and as soon as he broke free, Rodgers hit him on an easy eight yard touchdown catch, the first of the rookie’s career.

RB Aaron Jones, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 56 - 1, Rec: 5 - 27 - 1 (5 targets)
Aaron Jones rushed 12 times for 56 yards and one touchdown, while also catching five times for 27 yards and a touchdown on five targets. Jones closed out his breakout year in great form, putting up his seventh multi-touchdown game of the season. Despite seeing only 17 touches, Jones was able to make his mark in his first NFC Championship, averaging 4.7 yards per carry against a stingy 49ers defensive front. The Packers got down early in the game, 27-0 in the first half, so it wasn’t a game script that was conducive to Jones having a big day on the ground. Jones got the Packers on the board early in third quarter, with the offense facing a first and goal from the nine yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and Jones faked as though he was going to be a pass-blocker on the play. Jones then released and made himself available to Rodgers, who dumped the ball off to him just ahead of the line of scrimmage. Jones caught the pass, pivoted and was able to run the ball into the endzone untouched for the Packers first touchdown. Jones scored the Packers second touchdown as well. Following a 42 yard catch by Jimmy Graham that was originally called a touchdown, but was reversed to place the ball at the one yard line, Jones was able to punch the ball in on a first and goal from the one yard line. It was Jones 23 yard touchdown of the year, and it marked his fourth touchdown of the post-season in only two games. Jones capped the year off with four multi-touchdown performances in his last five games, a trend that is indicated of the level that he was playing at this year. With Rodgers, Adams and Jones, the Packers have the foundation for a high powered offense, but it will take some more help for this team to get over the hump.

RB Jamaal Williams, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 6 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (3 targets)
Jamaal Williams rushed three times for six yards and caught two passes for one yard in the Packers loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. Williams was locked up by the 49ers defensive front and couldn’t get anything going when his number was called. With the Packers down 27-0 in the first half, the game script was set up for Williams to contribute in the passing game, but the coaches chose to go with Jones, a smart choice given his ability to break big plays. Williams is a solid insurance policy behind Jones, and contributed in a big way this season, but what makes him important to this team is his attention to detail, his versatility and the fact that he is content playing behind Jones. Look for him to have a similar season next year, even though Jones is in line to see a lot more touches than he did this season.

WR Davante Adams, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 138 - 0 (11 targets)
Davante Adams caught nine passes for 138 yards on 11 targets in the Packers loss in the NFC Championship game. Despite the Packers big loss, Adams continued to contribute in a big way like he has all season. The Packers have no depth behind Adams, and that definitely cost them quite a bit this season. Their 13-3 record was somewhat of a façade, as they only beat two playoff teams all year, and two of the three wins were against the Vikings. Still, Adams is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL and his connection with Rodgers is on another level. He closed out the post-season with 17 catches for 298 yards and two touchdowns, and his 11th catch in this game marked his 100th catch of the season. Adams made several big catches in this game, but none bigger than his 65 yard reception in the fourth quarter. With the Packers facing a third and five from their own 13 yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and was given a clean pocket by his offensive line. Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and unleashed a bomb to Adams who was running a go-route up the right sideline. Adams faked Richard Sherman out of his shoes at the line of scrimmage and then threw another fake as though he was going to run a comeback route. Instead, Adams got the inside position and ran hard up right side, and Rodgers hit him perfectly in stride at the 49ers 45 yard line. Adams was able to break the first tackle by Sherman, and then stopped on a dime with the last 49ers defender just barely able to bring him down. Otherwise it was going to go for an 87 yard touchdown, which would have been a perfect cap on the season for Adams.

WR Allen Lazard, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (4 targets)
Allen Lazard caught three passes for 36 yards on four targets in the Packers loss to the 49ers on Sunday. Behind Adams, Lazard was the Packers most productive receiver, although there wasn’t much in the way of competition for the second year receiver. Lazard’s big play of the night came with the Packers facing a first and 10 from their own eight yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and hit Lazard over the middle. Lazard was lined up on the outside left and was able to gain separation at the line of scrimmage by faking to the inside and then running hard up the field. He then stuck his foot in the ground and cut towards the middle of the field where Rodgers found him in stride. Lazard was met by three 49ers defenders, but did a great job of holding onto the football, as one of the 49ers defenders flipped him completely over in the air. Lazard has impressive size at 6-5, 227 lbs, and showcased his ability to make plays down the field. Expect the Packers to add reinforcements at the receiver position in the off-season, so Lazard will have to battle for a spot on the team next season. As an undrafted free agent, this is nothing new for Lazard, so it will be interesting to see if he can step up his game to the next level and be a true #2 receiver for the Packers next season.

WR Geronimo Allison, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (3 targets)
Geronimo Allison caught two passes for eight yard on three targets in the Packers loss to the 49ers on Sunday. This was the story for Allison throughout the season, as he was unable to step his game up to the level necessary for him to be the Packers #2 receiver. He was limited to around three targets per game and was unable to do much with those targets. Allison scored one touchdown on the season in week four, which represented his high mark on the season with 52 yards. Other than that, Allison was a disappointment, as was the rest of the Packers receivers behind Davante Adams. He is a free agent heading into the 2020 season, and from the looks of it, he might not be back in Green Bay next year.

TE Jimmy Graham, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 59 - 0 (5 targets)
Jimmy Graham caught four passes for 59 yards on five targets in the Packers loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. This marked the second straight game where Graham has turned in a solid performance, and that does say something about the veteran tight end. However, Graham was a drag on the Packers for much of the season, and without help at the wide receiver position behind Adams, he was in a great position to contribute. Graham’s big play of the game came with the Packers facing a first and 10 from the 49ers 43 yard line. Rodgers took the snap out of the shotgun and threw a deep ball to Graham over the middle. Graham was able to catch the pass and chug hard upfield with the 49ers secondary chasing after him. It looked as though Graham was going to score on the first look, and it was originally called a touchdown on the field. The play was reviewed though, and unfortunately for Graham, it showed him being down at the one yard line. It is unknown whether Graham will be back next season, as the Packers drafted Jace Sternberger to be his replacement down the road. Sternberger caught his first touchdown pass in this game, so it will be interesting to see whether the Packers go into next season with the veteran, or the young player with live legs.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 8 - 77 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - -1 - 0
In the understatement of the century, Garoppolo wasn't asked to do much against Green Bay. It was so uneventful that the only things worth mentioning are 1) it looked like he may have tweaked his surgically repaired knee when (illegally) getting hit low by Kenny Clark; and 2) he actually threw four incompletions, not two, if you count plays nullified by penalty (which includes the aforementioned low hit).

RB Raheem Mostert, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 29 - 220 - 4, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)
Mostert's record-setting day resulted from the synchronicity of play design, run-blocking execution, and rushing skill all coming together at the same time. On Mostert's four touchdown runs, all but a handful of the cumulative 85 yards came completely untouched. However, he did have to make an explosive cut or two to make that happen. Gaining the other 135 yards required much more in the way of contact balance and elusiveness at the second level, but the blocking did just about the absolute maximum to get Mostert into said second-level. One particular run, a 34-yard gain midway through the second quarter, was a perfect example of this. The 49ers set up in an I formation out of 21 personnel, with George Kittle motioning to right side presnap. Perfectly executed blocking provided a gaping cut-back lane on outside zone, which Mostert happily took. From there, he jump cut inside to avoid one defender, then turned upfield and slalomed his way between a gauntlet of defenders who had angles on him, but whom dove and missed. It took the last possible defender hopping on for a piggy-back ride for 5 yards to prevent Mostert from ending up with 255 yards and 5 touchdowns.

RB Tevin Coleman, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 21 - 0
Before dislocating his shoulder, Coleman was the model of consistency, running for exactly 4 or 5 yards on all but one of his six carries. Perhaps important for the future, he was also in a straightforward alternating-series timeshare with Raheem Mostert before getting hurt.

WR Deebo Samuel, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 43 - 0, Rec: 2 - 46 - 0 (3 targets)
Amazingly, Samuel produced nearly all of both his and his teams' passing/receiving yardage within a three-play span six minutes into the game. On the first play of San Francisco's second drive, Samuel ran a backside slide route and caught Jimmy Garoppolo's short pass off of play-action. From there, he beat cornerback Kevin King to the outside and turned upfield for a gain of 16 yards. Two plays later, Samuel caught a simple dig route out of the right slot against Green Bay's Cover-2 zone. The impressive bit was absolutely trucking safety Darnell Savage after the catch, thereby allowing another 11 yards of run-after-catch on an eventual 30-yard gain.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 41 offensive snaps (1 targets)
Sanders actually had two targets. The first fell incomplete due to an underthrow by Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was erased on the stat sheet because said underthrow was due to an illegal roughing of said passer. Sanders' only official target came two plays later, but it was also underthrown, this time not due to roughing the passer. Rather, Sanders beat cornerback Kevin King on a deep crossing route, but Garoppolo's through caused Sanders to slow down just long enough for King to recover and make a play on the ball.

TE George Kittle, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (1 targets)
Per Pro Football Focus, Kittle stayed in to block on over 81 percent of snaps, eclipsing last week's season-high of 72 percent. Thought it's makes sense, therefore, that he only saw two passes thrown his way, it's still surprising that said targets didn't come until midway through the fourth quarter. To start the 49ers' final, championship-clinching drive, Kittle gained 19 yards on a shallow cross through traffic against the Packers' Cover-1 zone. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-3 near midfield, Kittle converted a first down by drawing defensive pass interference against safety Will Redmond's press man coverage.