49ers 13, Packers 10: 2-minute drill

GREEN BAY — San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould hit a 45-yard field goal as time expired to send the 49ers to the NFC title game with a 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night at a snowy Lambeau Field.

Game Balls

Offense: Aaron Jones

The running back led the Packers in rushing and receiving on a night when the offense struggled to find its footing. Jones had 41 yards on 12 carries, while also catching nine passes for 129 yards.

The biggest play came late in the first half when he snuck behind the 49ers defense for a 75-yard catch and run, though they ended up being unable to capitalize with points thanks to a missed field goal.

Green Bay’s most productive drive in the second half – a 14-play, 57-yard effort that took 9:01 off the clock – featured a lot of Jones, as he accounted for 22 of the yards on a possession that led to a field goal.

Defense: Rashan Gary

The Packers saw nights like this in their minds when they took Gary in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was a dominant force for a Green Bay defense that deserved so much more than it got from the offense. The outside linebacker finished with four tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.

Gary’s best play came in the fourth quarter and the Packers leading 10-3 with the 49ers facing a fourth-and-1. He made quick work of the guy trying to block him and stoned running back Elijah Mitchell in the hole, giving the ball back to the Packers. At the time, it seemed like it might be the play of the game.

It was a breakthrough season for Gary and one he finished off with his best performance yet.

Special Teams: No one

The special teams were atrocious much of the year and that was the case again Saturday night. Sure, the offense scored just 10 points, but it was the special teams miscues that derailed the team’s hopes for a fifth Super Bowl title. The list of mistakes is a long one, but it starts with a blocked field goal just before halftime, includes a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter and ends with lining up just 10 guys on the game-winning field goal.

In a season where expectations for the special teams had become so low, Saturday night’s effort did not come close to even matching those. There will be plenty of changes in the offseason and that will almost certainly include a new face leading that unit.

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In Case You Missed It

— The Packers did not have the services of All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. He worked out before the game but not cleared. Green Bay started Billy Turner at left tackle for the first time since the NFC title game last January.

— Saturday marked the return of several key pieces to the team, including linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus, along with cornerback Jaire Alexander and wide receiver Randall Cobb.

— The Packers lost a pair of players in the game. Safety Darnell Savage left in the second half with a back injury and did not return. Running back AJ Dillon suffered a chest injury on a kickoff return in the third quarter and was also unable to come back.

Inside the Numbers

0-4 – That is Aaron Rodgers’ record in the playoffs against the 49ers.

7-9 – That is the Packers record in the postseason since winning Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season.

39 – That is how many wins the Packers have in the last three seasons. They became the first team in NFL history to win that many games without a Super Bowl appearance.

What’s Next

The offseason is filled with huge questions almost across the board, including the future of free agents to be Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Lucas Patrick, Robert Tonyan and De’Vondre Campbell, along with potential salary cap casualties like linebacker Za’Darius Smith and tackle Billy Turner.

But there is no bigger question facing the team than what happens with Aaron Rodgers. The soon-to-be two-time NFL MVP still has two years on his contract but his salary cap hit for 2022 is $46.4 million, a number impossible for the team to carry considering they are already $44.8 million over the cap.

So, what does Rodgers do? Agree to a new contract with the Packers with a friendlier cap number, get traded to a team of his choice or retire? Rodgers said after the game he intends to take some time before making a decision, one that will include talks with GM Brian Gutekunst and others around him.

Rodgers and Gutekunst are in a much better place now than they were at this point last year when the quarterback was less than pleased about not having a bigger say in decisions that impact how he does his job. That input and how Gutekunst uses it could go a long way with Rodgers’ future, especially with so many key pieces potentially on the way out. If there is one thing Rodgers made clear is that being a part of a team that is not competing for a Super Bowl is not what he has in mind.

“I don’t want to be a part of a rebuild if I’m going to keep playing,” Rodgers said.

No matter what, though, after 17 years Rodgers knows change is coming whether he’s still around or not.

“This thing is definitely going to look different moving forward in Green Bay.”