The Packers couldn't manage to advance in the NFC Playoffs on Sunday, as they came up just short against the San Francisco 49ers. Colin Kaepernick again made a number of big plays with his legs in critical situations and a battered Packer defense could not come up with a critical stop at the end of the game. In a microcosm of the Packers' season, Davon House nearly blocked the game-winning field goal attempt, but Phil Dawson's kick passed through his arms and through the uprights for the winning points as the clock hit zero, giving the 49ers a 23-20 win.
Randall Cobb returned the opening kick to the 26 after the 49ers won the toss and deferred. Three straight runs, including a John Kuhn dive on third and two, left the Packers short of the line to gain and they forced to punt.
The 49ers picked up a first down on their second play, a 14-yard catch-and-run by Michael Crabtree. On the play, Sam Shields' ankle got trapped under Morgan Burnett and Andy Mulumba. Shields did not return in the game. Crabtree caught another pair of passes, one which he fumbled out of bounds, but a third-and-two ended with Kaepernick being sacked at the Packers' 35-yard line. The 49ers went for it on offense, though, and converted to Crabtree once again for 31 yards. On first down and goal from the 5, Kaepernick was nearly picked off by Tramon Williams. He threw incomplete on second down, and Davon House defended a fade to Crabtree well on third down, forcing the 49ers to kick a field goal from 22 yards to take a 3-0 lead. Also injured on the drive was Mike Neal, who did not step on the field again.
The Packers' next drive got off to an ugly start. A Lacy run for one yard set up a two-yard sack of Aaron Rodgers on second down. David Bakhtiari moved early on third down, making it a 3rd and 16. Rodgers' pass to Jarrett Boykin fell incomplete, and the Packers had to punt again.
The 49ers continued to move the ball, picking up first downs on the ground with Frank Gore and through the air to Anquan Boldin on one-on-one coverage against Micah Hyde. The Packers' defense stiffened yet again when the 49ers got inside the ten-yard line, though, forcing another short field goal as the Niners extended the lead to 6-0.
The Packers went three-and-out yet again, after a sack of Rodgers, an incomplete pass on a designed screen, and a draw up the middle by Lacy.
After Anquan Boldin picked up a first down on a double-move to get past Davon House, Tramon Williams cut in front of Vernon Davis and picked off a floating pass from Kaepernick. Williams returned the pick to the Packers' 30-yard line and drove hard through Kaepernick's tackle attempt at the end of the play.
The Packers' offense finally got a charge from the turnover, and picked up their first first down of the game on a Rodgers toss to Kuhn. Eddie Lacy got moving a bit and moved the chains a few times, while Rodgers got moving with some passes to Jordy Nelson and Andrew Quarless. Eventually, on third and goal, Rodgers found a falling Nelson in the right corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the game and a 7-6 Packers lead.
Colin Kaepernick struck on the next drive. A scramble went for 42 yards as Morgan Burnett took a bad angle on a blitz and Davon House missed an open-field tackle, and the quarterback's run took the 49ers into the red zone again. This time, a read-option froze Andy Mulumba and Frank Gore rumbled for a 10-yard touchdown as San Francisco took back a six-point lead at 13-7.
With a little under three minutes to go in the half, the Packers took over and picked up a first down on Rodgers' legs before the two-minute warning. A laser beam throw to Nelson over the middle got the Packers across midfield. He connected with James Starks later on for a 13-yard gain out of bounds to the 25. A timeout with the clock stopped and a penalty by David Bakhtiari killed the drive though, and Mason Crosby attempted and made a 34-yard field goal with the time running out on the half to close the lead to 13-10.
The 49ers were forced to punt on their opening drive of the second half. Kaepernick threw a pair of incomplete passes early, and Mike Daniels sacked Kaepernick on third and ten to force the punt.
The Packers punted on their first drive as well, after a deep third-down heave from Rodgers to James Jones hit Jones in the shoulder pad and fell incomplete.
The Niners then moved the ball into Packer territory on the ensuing drive. Andy Mulumba was chopped by Joe Staley and left the field, forcing Datone Jones to sub in at outside linebacker. On third and five from the Packers' 25, Dom Capers brought a six-man rush and Nick Perry brought Kaepernick down for a sack at the 33. Because of the weather conditions, the 49ers punted away and the Packers took over again at the 16.
The Packers looked to get a good drive going early, as back-to-back James Starks runs picked up a first down. The Packers gave up sacks on two straight plays, though, and a deep heave to Jordy Nelson on third down was broken up, and Green Bay punted again. The Niners didn't do much on the next drive though, going three-and-out.
Green Bay went to work on the next drive with Lacy and Starks. Lacy bludgeoned the Niners' defense repeatedly, while Starks gashed through the defense using his speed for big gains. Check out this hit that Lacy laid on Donte "Hitner":
The Packers eventually got in a fourth-and-two from the Niners' 30, when Rodgers somehow escaped a sure sack and completed a pass to Randall Cobb down to the four-yard line.
Eddie Lacy brought it to the goal line and John Kuhn punched it in on second down, giving the Packers a 17-13 lead.
The Niners struck back and retook the lead yet again. The Packers lost Davon House to an injury on the drive, which saw another big run for Kaepernick as the Packers sat back in man coverage. The drive ended with a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis, who beat A.J. Hawk in coverage. Morgan Burnett couldn't get over in time to break up the pass as the Niners took the lead back at 20-17.
Rodgers went to work on the next drive, though. He converted a third-and-five on a backhanded flip pass to John Kuhn, then shook off a blitzer and found an open Randall Cobb to get inside the ten. A Cobb run on first down went nowhere, and Rodgers rolled out and threw incomplete on second down. On third down, Rodgers couldn't find an open receiver, so he stepped up, gained a few yards, and slid to set up a Crosby field goal attempt. He was good from 23 yards, tying the game at 20 with just over five minutes left.
The 49ers took over, and converted a third and ten on a pass to Crabtree just after Micah Hyde nearly intercepted a pass on second down that probably would have gone for a touchdown. Frank Gore found a soft spot in the zone for another first down, crossing midfield as the clock wound down to the two-minute warning. Kaepernick converted a clutch third-down though, as he dodged a blitz from Jarrett Bush, who left the edge uncovered, and ran up the sideline to move the chains. The 49ers were able to run the clock down to three seconds left, and Phil Dawson lined up for a 33-yard field goal. The ball went through Davon House's arms and then through the uprights to end Green Bay's season.