SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In their third consecutive NFC Championship appearance, but the first at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers anticipated that home-field advantage would propel them into the Super Bowl in Las Vegas. However, the Detroit Lions had different plans, dominating the 49ers in the first half and establishing # a significant lead.
Fortunately for the 49ers, as demonstrated in the previous week’s divisional round, football games last four quarters. In a remarkable second-half turnaround, San Francisco overcame a 17-point deficit, scoring 27 unanswered points to secure a 34-31 victory in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.
This triumph propels the 49ers to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2019 season, marking their eighth appearance in the title game. A win would secure their sixth championship, putting them on par with the Steelers and Patriots for the most ever.
Despite a challenging first half, quarterback Brock Purdy delivered a gritty performance, completing 20-of-31 passes for 267 yards and a touchdown, with an additional 51 rushing yards on crucial scrambles. Purdy’s stellar second-half performance, going 13-of-16 for 174 yards and a touchdown, played a pivotal role in the team’s comeback.
“We all knew what we had to do,” Purdy commented on the halftime discussions. “The season’s on the line. So, I think everybody stepped up, and we played really good, complementary football from there.”
The 49ers also benefited from fortuitous moments in the second half, including a 51-yard reception by Brandon Aiyuk that bounced off the face mask of Detroit cornerback Kindle Vildor before landing in Aiyuk’s hands. This momentum-shifting play led to an Aiyuk 6-yard touchdown catch, narrowing Detroit’s lead. The defense contributed with a critical turnover, as safety Tashaun Gipson Jr. stripped the ball from Detroit rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, setting up a game-tying touchdown by Christian McCaffrey.
San Francisco secured the lead with a field goal and extended it with an Elijah Mitchell touchdown run. Although the Lions managed a late touchdown, an onside kick recovery by George Kittle sealed the victory for the 49ers.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff, a Bay Area native, completed 25-of-41 passes for 273 yards with a touchdown, but his team couldn’t overcome the resilient 49ers. Detroit’s rushing attack, led by David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, posed challenges, accumulating 184 yards against San Francisco’s typically stout defense.
After struggling in the first half, the 49ers’ defense adjusted, stopping the Lions on fourth down twice and limiting them to seven points in the second half. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks made crucial halftime adjustments to counter Detroit’s innovative offensive scheme.
Now, the 49ers set their sights on the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, acknowledging the formidable challenge ahead. Head coach Kyle Shanahan praised the Chiefs as a “hell of a team” and expressed the team’s determination to reclaim the championship moment they’ve been pursuing since their 2020 Super Bowl appearance.