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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Deebo Samuel on 49ers run-game success vs. Packers: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’

Jan 19, 2020 at 8:53 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers had just 69 pass yards in their 37-20 NFC Championship game win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. And there will probably be those who think the Niners should have been more balanced, let quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo attack the Green Bay defense, have his playoff moment or whatever.

In the end, however, head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad could afford to be one-dimensional. And in a good way, regardless of what the stat geeks may argue.

San Francisco controlled the ground game in ways not foreseen, aside from the fact they were. A week ago, during the 49ers' divisional-round win over the Minnesota Vikings, running back Tevin Coleman dictated the Niners' offensive tempo, rushing for over 100 yards with two touchdowns. The 49ers essentially ran the ball down Minnesota's collective throat, and there was nothing the Vikings could do about it.

In the conference championship, there was nothing the Packers could do about it, either.

"I mean, I think our mentality is, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it,'" wide receiver Deebo Samuel told reporters after the win. "I ain't got no problem going out there and being scrappy with the defense and blocking for the running back. They do it for us when we have a pass thrown down."

While running back Raheem Mostert took the role from Coleman in this game, rushing for an astounding 220 yards and four touchdowns while cementing himself amid record holders, Samuel managed to get some impact in the ground game, too. Samuel had two of the end-around plays in which he has thrived for much of the season, amounting to a net total of 43 yards on the ground

Not bad, considering Samuel had just two catches for 46 yards, too.

"I only had one target, and I'm not upset with that," fellow wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders added. "I told myself, if I'm not going to get the ball, I might as well go out here and be a bully. I kind turned into a bully. I started to enjoy blocking. Sometimes I actually like that aspect of it."

A number of players, including Garoppolo, mentioned how the Packers were trying to defend against the big play, thereby allowing a number of open rush lanes throughout the course of the game. Even when Green Bay made some adjustments, Shanahan continued to run the ball and then some.

In total, the Niners ran 42 rush plays against just eight pass attempts from Garopppolo.

"Everybody was just engaged," Samuel added, when asked about imposing the team's will upon the Packers. "We could feel the energy. I don't even know how to explain the feeling right now."

Well, the simple feeling is the Niners took the defensive spirit out of Green Bay by dominating on the ground. It worked to perfection.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.


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