An offhand comment from Jimmy Garoppolo to Fox’s Erin Andrews on Halloween after an 8-0 start to the season became a rallying cry for both fans and some teammates. Naturally, 100 different companies have slapped the phrase on any piece of merch they have that can fit the 3-word catch phrase (spoiler, it’s a lot of merch). Despite everyone trying to make a buck off of it, the statement really sums up how 49ers players and fans feel about this season. It feels great to win the NFC. It feels great to have another shot at winning the Super Bowl. It feels great to have a team to be proud of, not just on the field but also how they mesh off the field and support each other. It’s wild looking back at the preseason and remembering the vibe around some corners of 49ers twitter. I saw a surprising number of people saying San Francisco should fire both HC Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch (2019 PFWA Executive of the Year). This is what a rebuild done right looks like. I’m excited for the Super Bowl and I’m also excited for the team’s future.
The NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers followed a game plan similar to the one used against the Vikings the week prior: run it until they stop us. The 49ers rushed 42 times for a total of 285 yards. RBs Coleman and Mostert were sharing the carries until part-way through the second quarter when Coleman went out for the game with what was later called a “shoulder injury.” Mostert took over the rushing duties from that point on and accounted for 220 of the 49ers rushing yards and a staggering 4 touchdowns. He was just shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s record for most rushing yards in a playoff game (248) but is the only player in NFL history to have at least 200 rush yards and 4 TDs (in a playoff) and the only player to reach 150 rush yards and 3 TDs in a single half of a playoff game. During the post-game interview, CB Richard Sherman said, Mostert is, “perfectly built and designed to do what Kyle needs him to do.” Watching him break off runs like this, I have to agree:
In his post-game press conference, Shanahan said he didn’t have more information than that at this point and said he hasn’t been ruled out for the Super Bowl. It didn’t look pretty live or in the replay. He’s falling through the air and tries to catch himself with his right arm to keep the play alive. His arm is closer to the ground than his feet and it ends up taking the brunt of his weight. During Monday’s press conference; however, Shanahan updated Coleman’s injury to a dislocated shoulder (“a Lethal-Weapon-type-thing where you’ve gotta pop it back in,” chance to play in February) and gave an update on the injury to S Jaquiski Tartt (Ribs, “irritated same area but no new damage”). On Sunday, Kyle had also reported injuries to CB K’Waun Williams (hip, returned to the game) and LB Dre Greenlaw (ankle, cleared to return but did not) but neither are expected to affect their Super Bowl availability. If Coleman trends in the right direction, San Francisco should be back to 100% again in Miami. It remains to be seen how the carries will be distributed if Colman can’t play in Miami. I initially thought Matt Brieda would step into the 1B role but he only had 1 carry for 2 yards on the night, his fewest attempts on the season. When you have a hand as hot as Mostert’s, it makes sense to stick with him. Breida did get the starting nod last week but turned 8 carries into a concerning 17 yards. I still believe Matt could turn it around and he’s shown he can earlier in the season.
(Regarding some media takes leading up to the game) “These guys (the Packers) have All-Pros here and All-Pros there. That’s for the media.” “If you could pick the perfect people for what Kyle does, you’d pick the guys we got. And that’s over just about anybody in the league.”Richard Sherman, Post-Game Interview 01/19/2020
The Packers were outscored 27-0 in the first half and had to abandon the run (62 total yards) as a result. They came out after halftime with a strong series of screen passes and started the second half with a score. I think the coaching staff needs to take a look at that drive in particular to see how they can stop a similar game. The Chiefs don’t have as strong of an RB as Aaron Jones, but you can bet they’re looking for any weakness they can find. The 49ers Defense made the Packers pay for every yard they gained during that drive and it took over 6 minutes off the game clock. Each subsequent possession took over 3 minutes. Green Bay put up 2 more touchdowns before the game ended on a desperation bomb from QB Aaron Rodgers with under 2 minutes left to play. Richard Sherman came through with his second interception of the playoffs to seal the game.
The Chiefs defeated the Titans this week with another exciting comeback from a slow first quarter. The Titans tried to rally but weren’t able to put up enough points to catch up. Super Bowl LIV is going to be a battle of two teams that aren’t afraid to run up the score on their opponents. When asked about preparing for Kansas City, Sherm wasn’t surprised to hear he had teammates planning to watch the Chiefs/Titans film yet that night. He responded, “Guys aren’t just happy to be here. You know, guys are playing to win.”
“You got two weeks but we wanna treat it like we’re playing Sunday.”Kyle Shanahan, Post-Game Interview 01/19/2020
Finally, Uncle Sherm also shared my second favorite quote from the season so far (see the beginning of this article for my favorite). These are words I think this team has taken to heart:
“When you stay ready, you don’t gotta get ready.”Richard Sherman, Post-Game Interview 01/19/2020
“Feels Great, Baby”Tweet