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FFL: Offseason | NFL: Divisional

49ers impressive turnaround leads to Super Bowl appearance

Mon Jan 20 7:30pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

Players: Aaron Rodgers, Emmanuel Sanders, Jimmy Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates after converting a first down against the Green Bay Packers during the first half of the NFL NFC Championship football game Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, center, and general manager John Lynch, right, celebrate while interviewed by Terry Bradshaw after the NFL NFC Championship football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 37-20 to advance to Super Bowl 54 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Also pictured at bottom left is Mike Shanahan. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, center, celebrates with players during the second half of the NFL NFC Championship football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. The 49ers won 37-20 to advance to Super Bowl 54 against the Kansas City Chiefs. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) As the celebration raged in the victorious 49ers locker room, general manager John Lynch showed off a ''Mobile to Miami'' T-shirt that symbolized the turnaround in San Francisco.

The team that was so bad a year ago that the coaching staff got rewarded with a week coaching the Senior Bowl in Alabama is now playing for the championship in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 in Miami against the Kansas City Chiefs.

''It is amazing,'' defensive lineman Arik Armstead said. ''It means a lot to us, especially going through all of the adversity that we went through over the past couple of years. To be going to the Super Bowl and have the chance to be the top of the league is amazing.''

The 49ers (15-3) got there thanks to a big-play running game led by Raheem Mostert that rushed for 285 yards and a defense that tormented Aaron Rodgers in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

That sent the Niners to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2012 season.

Only a handful of players such as cornerback Richard Sherman, tackle Joe Staley, receiver Emmanuel Sanders and center Ben Garland have Super Bowl playing experience.

Coach Kyle Shanahan went there once before as an offensive coordinator for Atlanta in the 2016 season when the Falcons memorably blew a 28-3 lead and lost 34-28 in overtime to New England.

Shanahan took lessons from that game, including never feeling comfortable with a lead. But the biggest thing he learned was how to approach Super Bowl week.

He plans to have a normal week of practice before the team leaves for Miami, with coaches putting in the game plan on Tuesday and then players returning Wednesday for three straight days of practice.

The players will then get Saturday off before leaving for the game on Sunday and getting another week of preparation in Miami.

''We try to do everything before,'' Shanahan said. ''We definitely know we have the whole week when we get there. But there's different media obligations that get you out of your routine and everything. You don't want to play catch-up at the end of the Super Bowl week. You want to do that now.''

WHAT'S WORKING

Running game. One week after Tevin Coleman ran for 105 yards and two TDs, Mostert did even better. Mostert had 29 carries for 220 yards and four touchdowns, posting the second-best rushing total in playoff history to Eric Dickerson's 248 yards for the Rams on Jan. 4, 1986. Mostert had the 11th game since 1950 with at least 200 yards rushing and at least four TDs.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Not much. Just about everything is going right for the Niners, who have won back-to-back playoff games in the season by at least 17 points for the fourth time in franchise history. The first three times that happened ended in championships following the 1984, '88 and '89 seasons. The defense did allow a couple of big pass plays in the second half but the game was well in hand by then and that caused little damage.

STOCK UP

CB Emmanuel Moseley. Thrown back into the starting lineup after Ahkello Witherspoon got benched against Minnesota, Moseley came up with one of the biggest defensive plays of the game. He intercepted Aaron Rodgers late in the first half to set up Mostert's third TD run that made it 27-0. Moseley will be counted on again in the Super Bowl against the high-powered Chiefs passing game.

STOCK DOWN

Garoppolo's stats. Jimmy Garoppolo threw the ball only eight times against the Packers, the third fewest for a team in a playoff game since at least 1940. Only the Dolphins threw it less in the playoffs with six and seven attempts on the way to the Super Bowl title following the 1973 season. Garoppolo completed six of the throws for 77 yards but was asked to do little with the defense and running game playing so well.

INJURED

Coleman left the game with a dislocated shoulder. He was undergoing an MRI on Monday to determine the severity but Shanahan said he expects Coleman will have a chance to play. ... S Jaquiski Tartt irritated a rib injury that sidelined him for the final four games of the regular season but should be OK for the Super Bowl.

KEY NUMBER

25.2. The Niners have passed on just 25.2% of plays this postseason, including sacks. San Francisco has run the 89 times in two playoff games, becoming the first team in 16 years to post back-to-back 40-carry games in a single postseason. Carolina did it following the 2003 season on the way to a Super Bowl loss.

NEXT STEPS

The Niners seek their record-tying sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks in Miami. Only the Patriots and Steelers have won six Super Bowls.

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Player Notes
Ryan Kerrigan Jan 15 9:43pm ET

Washington Football Team impending free-agent DE Ryan Kerrigan said there has not been any contract talks between him and Washington at this point.

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Taysom Hill Jan 15 9:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray (quadriceps) and quarterback Taysom Hill (knee) were both listed as questionable for the Divisional Round matchup against the Buccaneers on Sunday after getting in limited practices on Friday. The fact that they both practiced on Friday is good news for their chances of suiting up for the third meeting this year against the Bucs. If Murray, 31, cannot play, Alvin Kamara would have even more fantasy upside and would likely see more red-zone work against a stingy Buccaneers defensive front. Dwayne Washington and Ty Montgomery would help back up Kamara. Hill would likely only see a handful of snaps as a Swiss Army Knife on Sunday if he plays, making him avoidable in most fantasy lineups if he's active.

From RotoBaller

Baltimore Ravens Jan 15 9:00pm ET

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters (back) and offensive guard D.J. Fluker (knee) were both listed as questionable for the Divisional Round game against the Bills on Saturday night. Peters and Fluker were both limited in practice on Thursday, so they have a chance to be active against Buffalo. Peters also missed several games near the end of the regular season with a calf injury. We expect him to play through the pain in a very tough matchup with a Bills offense that can put up points with the best of them. Most DFS gamers will be avoiding Baltimore's stout defense this weekend, but they could surprise folks on Saturday night, especially if there is snow on the field.

From RotoBaller

New Orleans Saints Jan 15 9:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson (hamstring) has been ruled out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Sunday's Divisional Round matchup, the third between the two clubs this season. Robinson missed practice all week. New Orleans still has a solid defense overall on the edges of the secondary with Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore locking things down, but Robinson's absence will be felt at nickelback. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will be tasked with slowing down Tampa wideout Chris Godwin this weekend. The Saints Defense will still be a strong fantasy unit on Sunday, but only if they can get some pressure on future Hall of Famer Tom Brady. In two games against the Saints in the regular season, Godwin had nine catches (13 targets) for 120 yards.

From RotoBaller

Josh Gordon Jan 15 8:50pm ET

The NFL rescinded Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Josh Gordon's conditional reinstatement on Friday and left him banned from the league indefinitely. Gordon was added to the team's active roster three weeks ago and was set to return to the field when he had a setback in his battle with substance abuse that broke the terms of his conditional reinstatement. He missed the entire 2020 campaign after being suspended in December of 2019. This year was the third time he's missed an entire season since entering the league in 2012. The 29-year-old has been suspended by the NFL six times and has 247 career catches while making the All-Pro team in 2013 with Cleveland. What a shame. Gordon has so much talent and is still on the right side of 30 years old, but he may never get another chance in the NFL due to his latest setback.

From RotoBaller

Cooper Kupp Jan 15 8:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (knee) is listed as questionable for the Divisional Round against the Green Bay Packers on Saturday. Kupp missed practice all week, so fantasy managers should certainly be way of quarterback Jared Goff's top target if he's active this weekend. Kupp's injury wasn't deemed serious last weekend when he left late in the wild-card win over the Seahawks, but it could very well limit him if he suits up against Green Bay. Wide receivers Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds and rookie Van Jefferson could see more targets if Kupp has his snaps limited, but all of LA's pass-catchers should be knocked down a peg with Goff fighting through a surgically repaired right thumb.

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Matt Ryan Jan 15 8:40pm ET

The Atlanta Falcons hired Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as their new head coach on Friday, according to sources. Smith was the team's top choice all along, so they get their man. The 38-year-old was one of seven coaching candidates for Atlanta after the team fired Dan Quinn on Oct. 11. Smith is expected to pair with New Orleans Saints assistant general manager/vice president of player personnel, who is expect to be Atlanta's next GM. Smith spent the last 10 seasons with the Titans but stood out the last two years as the team's offensive coordinator, helping the Titans reach the playoffs the last two seasons. Tennessee was the only team in the NFL that ranked in the top five in rushing yards per game (153.5) and passer rating (107) since 2019. He'll try to help an Atlanta team that went 4-12 in 2020 and that hasn't made the playoffs the last three years. Smith should be a good fit if quarterback Matt Ryan and veteran receiver Julio Jones stick around.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jan 15 7:50pm ET

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense is a solid option ahead of a huge playoff matchup with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. At one point, Tampa Bay looked like the best defense in the league, but they've since fallen on hard times. Despite this, the Buccaneers still possess talent at all three levels of the defense. Tampa Bay can stop the run and rush the passer, a combination that could lead to turnovers committed by Saints quarterback Drew Brees. The Bucs will need to find their defensive mojo if they want to advance- it's worth betting on for DFS purposes.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Jan 15 7:43pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hip, quad) did not participate in practice Friday, Jan. 15, but no longer appears on the injury report for the NFC Divisional Round game versus the New Orleans Saints.

Fantasy Spin: Godwin has a favorable matchup in Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, but the former did not do anything of significance in the first two meetings of the season against the Saints. To his credit, however, he has scored in four straight games and is in the midst of his best three-game stretch of the season.

From TheHuddle

Tedric Thompson Jan 15 7:43pm ET

Cleveland Browns DB Tedric Thompson was waived Friday, Jan. 15.

From TheHuddle

Rob Gronkowski Jan 15 7:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski had a catch-less game last week against Washington but could bounce back in Sunday's matchup with the Saints. Gronkowski wasn't a big part of the gameplan last week- at least as a receiver- though that could change against the Saints. The veteran tight end has risen to the occasion in big games this year- 6-106-0 against the Chiefs and 5-78-1 against the Packers- and this would be the biggest stage yet this season. The Tom Brady-Gronkowski connection failed fantasy managers last week, but it's worth going back to be more time.

From RotoBaller

Jared Cook Jan 15 7:23pm ET

New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook (back) was upgraded to a full practice Friday, Jan. 15, and no longer appears on the injury report for the NFC Divisional Round game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fantasy Spin: Cook has established a solid floor over the last three games with Drew Brees getting more comfortable following his return from injury, finishing with either three or four catches and at least 40 yards each time. The 33-year-old posted 5-80-0 (Week 1) and 2-30-0 (Week 9) against the Buccaneers earlier this season, inspiring some confidence as a mid-priced DFS play at tight end this weekend.

From TheHuddle

Mike Evans Jan 15 7:23pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (knee) was limited in practice all week but removed from the injury report for the NFC Divisional Round game versus the New Orleans Saints.

Fantasy Spin: Evans enters this contest after erupting for 119 yards against the Washington Football Team last weekend, but his history with Marshon Lattimore seems to bring out the best in the Saints' top corner. No Tampa Bay receiver should be fully faded from this week's DFS slate given how well the offense is playing of late, but Evans should be considered the most likely to disappoint.

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Antonio Brown Jan 15 7:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown possesses upside for fantasy purposes in a playoff matchup with the Saints. Brown had only just signed with the team when he took part in his team's blowout loss to the Saints. Since then, he has rounded into form, with five touchdowns in his last four contests, including two games with at least 90 yards receiving. Brown is looking more and more like the dynamic playmaker who made a name for himself in Pittsburgh- and he could be a real x-factor in this game. He's probably a bit riskier than his two fellow wideouts, though he has the most upside against New Orleans' tough defense.

From RotoBaller

Taysom Hill Jan 15 7:13pm ET

New Orleans Saints QB Taysom Hill (knee) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Jan. 15, and is listed as questionable for the NFC Divisional Round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fantasy Spin: Hill hasn't missed a game over the last three seasons, so the odds are that he'll be able to play this weekend. The versatile 30-year-old typically plays about 20 offensive snaps per game when Drew Brees is healthy and has scored 13 total touchdowns this season as a passer, rusher or receiver. Hill doesn't possess a lot of fantasy value in playoff leagues, but he could be considered a low-end QB1 in 2021 should Brees opt to retire at the end of this season.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin Jan 15 7:00pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (hip, quad) has no injury designation and will be out there for the divisional round battle against the Saints. Godwin is rolling right now, as he has averaged 9.3 targets per game over his last three contests, having produced at least 79 yards and a touchdown in each of them. Fellow wideout Mike Evans will have to deal with Saints' corner Marshon Lattimore, who could potentially take him out of the game. Godwin would likely see more targets if that happens, though he makes for a good DFS play- despite the Saints' fifth-ranked pass defense.

From RotoBaller

Latavius Murray Jan 15 6:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray (quad) was upgraded to a limited practice Friday, Jan. 15, and is listed as questionable for the NFC Divisional Round game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fantasy Spin: It's encouraging for his prospects to play that he was able to get in a limited session Friday after missing the first two practices of the week, but he was unlikely to play much of a role in this game anyway with the Buccaneers being so stout against the run. His potential absence would likely lock Alvin Kamara in for 20 touches and could make Ty Montgomery worthy of a punt play in DFS.

From TheHuddle

Josh Gordon Jan 15 6:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon had his conditional reinstatement rescinded yet again and was given an indefinite suspension by the league Friday, Jan. 15.

From TheHuddle

Mike Evans Jan 15 6:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans takes on the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. Evans comes into the contest having exceeded 100 receiving yards in three of his last four games, with two touchdowns scored. However, he'll be in for a tough test against New Orleans' cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who has yet to allow a catch to Evans in coverage this year. The big-bodied wideout is talented enough to beat any corner, but this seems to be a tough matchup for him in his career. If you turn to Evans in DFS this week, you're probably just hoping he finds the end zone a couple of times.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Jan 15 6:13pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry (hip) practiced in full all week and was left off the injury report for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Fantasy Spin: Landry should be expected to get a full complement of snaps in what should be a high-scoring game. As a player who should be considered a lock for seven or eight targets, he's a solid mid-priced receiver option in DFS with significant upside.

From TheHuddle