49ers game grades vs. Packers: Defense and special teams save the season

Yes, it was freezing. But yikes. QB Jimmy Garoppolo (57.1 passer rating) and this unit would have been buried if the season ended Saturday. They produced six points, 12 first downs, 212 yards, went for 4 for 12 on third and fourth down and saved some of their worst for the worst moments. They had three penalties and threw an interception inside Green Bay’s 22-yard line in the first three quarters before they were stuffed on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter at the Packers’ 19-yard line. The bright spot is obvious: They drove 44 yards for the game-winning field goal in the final 3:20.

Defense

Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and Co. scored 10 points, had 14 first downs and gained 263 yards in a playoff game at Lambeau Field. How did that happen? The biggest reasons were a relentless pass rush that collected five sacks for the third straight game and a sticky secondary that took away everyone besides Adams (90 yards) and RB Aaron Jones (129). Rodgers when targeting the rest of the Packers: 2 of 6 for six yards. The Packers, on their last two drives, had a chance to put the game away or drive for a game-winning FG. The result: six snaps and -5 yards.

Special teams

Guess Kyle Shanahan won’t be firing Richard Hightower. The heavily scrutinized coordinator oversaw a season-best performance that came at a fairly decent time. This unit provided the game-tying points…

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