A sentence that may be hard to believe — the San Francisco 49ers are headed to Super Bowl 54, and to get there; it was easy. The 49ers ran through the Green Bay Packers 37-20, and the score doesn’t do it justice. From the first quarter on, the game wasn’t close due to a flawless gameplan from Kyle Shanahan and his defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh.
Shanahan’s offense racked up 37 points behind an impeccable rushing performance from Raheem Mostert. The former NFL journeyman rushed for 220 yards, punching in four touchdowns to seal the 49ers’ trip to Miami for a date with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers offensive uncorked for 37 points, all while their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only threw for 77 yards on six completions, registering zero touchdown passes. Watching the game, Garoppolo felt unseen, quiet, and almost invisible — all alarming traits for a quarterback in the playoffs. However, for the 49ers and Shanahan, that’s what they needed from him to punch a ticket to the Super Bowl 54 in Miami.
Shanahan didn’t get cute, he didn’t overthink things and he stuck to what worked from the minute the playoffs started. The 49ers have scored 64 points in two playoff games and only needed their quarterback to throw 17 passes. It wasn’t because Shanahan didn’t trust Garoppolo — it wasn’t because Garoppolo played bad — it wasn’t because the 49ers didn’t need Garoppolo — it was because the 49ers had a gameplan that they stuck to and it worked masterfully.
When the 49ers started the 2019-20 season cracking off eight straight wins, they were a dominant run team with a ferocious defense, in the playoffs, San Francisco doubled down on that identity. He morphed into the best version of the team that got them to 8-0.
On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback that is widely known as one of the best quarterbacks of the generation, looked overwhelmed against Saleh’s defense.
Rodgers’s numbers were bolstered with some late garbage time statistics, finishing the night with 326 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Rodgers was sacked three times and fumbled the football once.
Heading into halftime, Saleh’s defense didn’t allow one point against the Rodgers led Packers. In two playoff games, the 49ers defense allowed 30 points against the No. 2 and No. 6 seed in the NFC playoffs.
As jarring at is that the 49ers turned from a four-win team, prepping for a top-draft pick to a team that’s Super Bowl-bound, there is still in one looming challenge for Shanahan and company. San Francisco will meet Andy Reid, Mahomes, and the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 to complete their unlikely run at history.