/49ers Nastiness Shows in Stomping of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers

49ers Nastiness Shows in Stomping of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is sacked by Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the NFC Championship game at Levi's Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

If you want to know who the 49ers are—truly are—look no further than tight end George Kittle.

Not the flashy pass-catching Kittle.

The nasty, gritty, kick-your-ass blocking Kittle.

On explosive 49ers run after explosive 49ers run Sunday, Kittle drove Packers defenders back. Two yards from the play. Three yards. He buried dudes. Play after play after play. Kittle and the 49ers offensive line absolutely brutalized the Packers.

And Kittle, known as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league, does this every damn week. The 49ers manhandle most teams they play every damn week.

This is what the 49ers truly are, and why they are a problem. They can score tons of points, and they are fast, and Kittle can score on any play. But their game is grit. They can pass, and they can sprint, but their nature is nastiness.

San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, incredibly, did not throw a single pass in the third quarter Sunday. The 49ers didn’t need him to. They were stomping Green Bay on the ground. It was about 90 minutes of real time between Garoppolo’s sixth pass of the game and his seventh. He finished with only eight.

This is how they made the NFC Championship Game against the Packers a non-contest by halftime. Check that…by the end of the first quarter. Not by outgunning them the way so many teams try to do in the modern NFL. By intimidating the Packers—from the start.

The final score, 37-20, might not look that ugly. But it was 27-0 at the half. This was the Death Star against Ken Starr.

And what it sets up next will be an intriguing moment in NFL championship history.

This Super Bowl will be speed versus bleed.

It will be the warp-drive flash of the Chiefs versus the grit and physicality of the 49ers.

But let’s focus on the 49ers and what they do, because what they do is so damn impressive.

Raheem Mostert will get many of the headlines, as he should, rushing for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and finishing with 220, the second-most ever in a playoff game. His four touchdowns were the most ever in an NFC title game and tied for second-most in playoff history.

But as excellent as he was, he’s not the story. The story from this game is the physicality of this 49ers team. It’s one of the nastiest, most bruising, harshest and most powerful teams we’ve seen in Super Bowl history. On both sides of the football.

The Niners don’t want to run by you, like the Chiefs do. They want to run, stop for a moment, punch you in the mouth, keep running, wait for you to catch up and then punch you in the mouth one more time just because.

This isn’t just on offense. They are equally bruising on defense, where it starts with lineman Nick Bosa, who had a sack in the first half Sunday, giving him three for the postseason—the most by a rookie since J.J. Watt and Brooks Reed had 3.5 for the Texans nine years ago.

The way San Francisco abused the Packers offensive line violates the Geneva Conventions.

And this was the second time the 49ers beat the hell out of the Packers. That is Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Damn Packers the 49ers made look like the Bengals. The Packers.

What you see with the 49ers is everything is contested. When a pass is caught, the receiver is tackled immediately and hard. When a block is made, it is thorough, technical and finished.

Nothing is easy. Nothing is relented without a fight.

On one play, receiver Deebo Samuel took a reverse and bolted to the left. In front of him were two 49ers linemen, running hard downfield, looking for people to smash.

It was a typical 49ers play. The athletic skill receiver following not just blocking offensive linemen, but offensive linemen looking to brutalize someone.

Two plays later, Mostert scored his fourth touchdown, and at the end of the run, he steamrolled over one of the Packers defensive backs. It was fitting.

“This is taking away the manhood of the Green Bay Packers,” said analyst Troy Aikman.

That’s a startling statement and also accurate.

This game could be a replay of the Giants vs. the Bills in Super Bowl XXV. The Bills, anchored by Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed, had what was viewed as an unstoppable offense (like Kansas City’s), and the Giants’ game plan was to physically punish the players after they caught the ball.

Yes, it’s a different game now, and receivers can’t get hit the way they could in 1991, but the point is San Francisco will be probably the most physical team those receivers have ever seen.

Rodgers and the Packers didn’t quit. They finally scored with just more than eight minutes left in the third quarter and got all the way back within two scores, 34-20, a quarter later.

But then on the next possession, on 3rd-and-1 with about five minutes left, Mostert got the first down. Fitting. It was over almost from the initial snap, but then it was really over.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

On to the next opponent. The 49ers open as one-point underdogs against the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, per Caesars.

And the Chiefs have earned that role as favorites.

But can they take a good punch to the jaw?


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.