GREEN BAY, Wis. – Throughout the disaster of a first quarter and darn near as frustrating second and third quarters of the San Francisco 49ers’ divisional playoff showdown with the Green Bay Packers, despite all the miscues, challenges and shortcomings, Jimmy Garoppolo swears he noticed an unmistakable and unshakable calm.
Sure, defensive tone-setter Fred Warner had laid into teammates after they let the Packers cruise downfield to score a game-opening touchdown. There were groans of frustration as the usually sure-handed George Kittle dropped a would-be touchdown pass.
Sure, blood pressures rose as the first quarter concluded with San Francisco’s yardage total standing at negative-7. And Garoppolo definitely beat himself up for a second-quarter interception at the opposing 4-yard line.
But that sense of calm permeated the 49ers sideline throughout the struggles as well as in the locker room at halftime, and it persisted in the second half, even after San Francisco got stopped on fourth down deep in Green Bay territory with six minutes left to play.
So, when yet another elimination game concluded with San Francisco having prevailed – this time by a score of 13-10 thanks to a fourth-quarter blocked punt returned for a touchdown, repeated defensive stands and a 45-yard Robbie Gould field goal with time expiring – to advance its second NFC championship in three years, it all made sense. It just felt right.
Adversity and high-pressure situations had served as the theme of San Francisco’s regular season. So why should the postseason have played out any differently, Garoppolo and his teammates surmised. They had erased deficits before, they could do it again.
“There was a calmness, honestly,” Garoppolo said. “Probably midway through the first or second (quarter) that I realized it was going to be that type of game. … I think it comes from, we’ve won late in games, and in different ways too. Especially over the last couple weeks prior to this. We find ways,…