It’s interesting that both the AFC and NFC championships will be rematches from games that took place in the regular season. The Tennessee Titans defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-32, in Week 10, while the San Francisco 49ers blew out the Packers, 37-8, in Week 12.
The Packers went 13-3 in the regular season, but their loss in San Francisco was their worst of the season. It’s something that 49ers fans can point back to that gives them confidence heading into this weekend, but Packers head coach Matt LaFleur feels like his team is much different than it was in late November.
“I don’t want to give too much information away. But really that last game was a long time ago,” LaFleur told reporters Wednesday, via NFL.com. “I think both teams have come a long way since then. You certainly take a look at it. Try to take bits and pieces from it, but there’s a lot of tape on them and we know what we have to do. It’s going to be a great challenge. They’re a great football team. They have been all year long, they’ve got great coaches and we’re just focused on our preparation and trying to be the best that we can be because we’re going to need it on Sunday.”
The beatdown took place on “Sunday Night Football,” as the 49ers racked up 339 total yards of offense while the Packers recorded just 198 yards. Aaron Rodgers passed for 104 yards and a touchdown while Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns.
Packers’ star pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith had quite a game, making six total tackles and 1.5 sacks, but the secondary struggled to contain tight end George Kittle, who caught six passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. On the flip side, the 49ers’ defense was dominant, and held the Packers to 1 of 15 on third downs. They also sacked Rodgers a total of five times.
Rodgers is a Super-Bowl winning quarterback facing off against a quarterback who is coming off of his first ever postseason start, so anything could happen on Sunday. The 49ers’ divisional-round 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings was much more impressive than the Packers’ 28-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks, but LaFleur is confident his Packers are ready to rewrite what happened in November.
“You always want to learn from past mistakes and performance whether it’s good or bad,” LaFleur said. “You take what you can from it, but ultimately you’ve got to go out there and learn from it and move on.”