Well, that was certainly a knock-down drag-out game for the defenses. Much can be said about this game and the plays the defense made, but the game pretty much came down to a one-handed juggling stumbling 30 yard reception by George Kittle late in the 3rd quarter to finally get the Niner offense going. After that play, the run game finally got some traction, and the team was able to finally get into the end zone to get on top 16-9.
Say what you will about the ineffective offenses, both these defenses came to play. And the DBs came up with a couple huge interceptions at opportune times. Sure, those picks only garnered 6 points, we needed every one of those points. Demo Lenoir has been targeted a lot in recent weeks, but he’s the one with 2 INTs in this postseason. Jimmie Ward also broke up a pass that was caught by one of the defensive standouts, Fred Warner.
Brock had a gutty game facing pressure nearly every drop-back, and with stifling coverages, did just enough to get the team into FG range on a couple of early drives. Dallas did get their TD early in the 2nd quarter mixing runs, passes and an 11 yard scramble for an early 6-3 lead. Funny, I think Maher misses the XP even if Ebukam doesn’t block it. But Purdy, in his usual style, did not turn the ball over. Albeit a dropped pick by Diggs was a huge help. Dallas did a good job of stopping the run game for about 2-1/2 quarters, and our early drives were stopped. Lenoir’s pick set us up in prime territory, but couldn’t get it in despite being on their 21. Next drive stalled at our 29 for another FG and a 6-6 tie.
Dallas gave the Niners another shot when Dak threw a ball right to Jimmie Ward that he deflected to Warner, and we kept Dallas from scoring and turned into a 3 point lead.
Still and all, Shanahan can’t seem to get out of his own way. On that drive before halftime, he wasted 26 seconds on a 3rd and 1 because in his words, he didn’t want to give Dallas time to mount a drive of their own. The problem there is WE were driving the ball. Fail on the 3rd and 1 and the Niners punt and Dallas gets the ball on their 15 with 35 seconds and 1 timeout. While WE had the ball, 56 seconds left, TWO timeouts, and the ball on our 38 yard line. Much more favorable conditions.
Instead, Shanny ran the clock down, we barely got into FG range, and nearly blew it anyway by running one more unnecessary play with 7 seconds left. Gould made the 50 yarder, and we took the lead, but coaching in the playoffs you NEED to go for the throat when you are driving the ball. Shanahan has been doing a good job calling plays and getting the most out of our opportunities, but that one really pissed me off. It shows a lack of faith in the offense.
But, we got through the game fairly unscathed, and now will be flying to Philly. Our third NFC Championship game in 4 years. This is gonna be another tough one.