The San Francisco 49ers’ game-altering blocked punt of the Green Bay Packers is all the proof you will ever need to know that special teams matter.
In a game featuring precisely one offensive touchdown, the 49ers were able to even the score with one on special teams. Jordan Willis was able to get his big paw on Corey Bojorquez’s punt deep in Green Bay territory. It took a heads-up play Talanoa Hufanga to hit pay dirt on what will probably be the biggest play of his life. Robbie Gould would seal the deal minutes later to win it.
Now that the snow has settled, here is what went into making the 49ers blocked punt so amazing.
What made San Francisco 49ers’ game-changing blocked punt so incredible
In a game where Green Bay had seemingly every opportunity to put the 49ers away, this was the play that shifted all momentum in San Francisco’s favor to pull off the stunning upset. While everyone knew that it was going to be absolutely frigid up in Green Bay, the weather was more of a factor than many people even anticipated. Per usual, bad weather tends to help the lesser team.
Though neither team could do much of anything offensively, one bad special teams play after another proved costly for Green Bay. They had a field-goal attempt blocked to end the first half. Green Bay gave up a 45-yard return to Deebo Samuel to start the second half, resulting in Gould’s first made field goal. The blocked punt increased the 49ers’ chances of winning to 46-percent.
This might have been the third of four special teams gaffe of the game for Green Bay, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Pinned deep in their territory, you could just sense Green Bay was going to find a way to screw this thing up again. Their protection was abysmal, as the long snapper was completely overpowered by Willis. Bojorquez had no shot to get this one off.
As the ball soared high up in the Green Bay sky, the snowfall made it picturesque for one of the defining plays of this rivalry series. There was absolutely no awareness on the Green Bay special teams to recognize that the 49ers could scoop up the loose ball for the score. It may have landed on the side of the field near Hufanga, but the Packers looked like a bad high school team out there.
Green Bay would be unsuccessful on the ensuing offensive drive. Gould would connect on the game-winner as time expired with only 10 special teams players on the field for Green Bay. As it turns out, the Packers’ Achilles heel all season was long with utterly rancid special teams play. It is worse than a leaky bullpen in baseball or a basketball team with no interest in cleaning the glass.
Of the many plays that happened in the Divisional Round, this is the one people will talk about.