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Fred Warner and the 49ers did just enough to beat Jordan Love and the Packers in divisional round thriller

The former BYU linebacker and Utah State quarterback led a busy first day of action for players with Utah ties in the NFL divisional round

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) leaps past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (2) during the first half of an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) leaps past San Francisco 49ers cornerback Deommodore Lenoir (2) during the first half of an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Ashley Landis, Associated Press

Jordan Love had his chance to lead a fourth career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime as a starter.

Instead, the first-year Green Bay starting quarterback and the Packers came up short in a 24-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in NFL divisional round action late Saturday.

The 49ers, who trailed for much of the second half, retook the lead with 1:07 to play on a 6-yard Christian McCaffrey touchdown run that put them ahead by three.

That set up Love, who’s been brilliant the past several weeks — including throwing three touchdowns last week in his first playoff start — with the chance to send Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game.

The Packers started their final drive at their own 25, and after three plays and a third-down conversion, they had the ball at their own 36 with just under a minute to play.

That’s when Love tried to throw across his body over the middle while on the run, and Dre Greenlaw intercepted the ill-advised pass, his second interception of the game, to seal the win.

Love completed 21 of 34 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had a QB rating of 72.4.

He tossed touchdown passes of 19 and 5 yards in the third quarter as Green Bay scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to take a 21-14 lead.

Love also completed a two-point conversion after the second touchdown to give the Packers a seven-point lead.

Love, the former Utah State quarterback who threw for 21 touchdowns and just one interception in the regular season’s final nine weeks, also led a pair of field-goal scoring drives in the first half.

On the second, he made a highlight-reel worthy throw on the run for a 22-yard completion on third-and-7 to extend the drive.

While Love’s first year as a starter is over, the season goes on for San Francisco and former BYU linebacker Fred Warner, who had another strong playoff performance.

Warner, the 49ers All-Pro, had seven tackles, including six solo stops, and a tackle for loss in his 10th career postseason game.

One of his most impactful plays came when he dropped Packers running back Aaron Jones for a 1-yard loss on first-and-10 late in the third quarter.

Two plays later, Greenlaw intercepted Love for the first time, setting up a field-goal scoring drive for the 49ers that cut the Packers’ lead to 21-17.

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San Francisco 49ers linebacker Fred Warner (54) celebrates after a defensive stop during the first half of an NFL football NFC divisional playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Godofredo A. Vásquez, Associated Press

Now, Warner and the 49ers will wait to find out their opponent in next week’s NFC Championship Game, San Francisco’s third straight trip to it.

The Detroit Lions host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday (1 p.m. MST, NBC) in the other NFC divisional round matchup.

San Francisco will host the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.

With Saturday’s results, there are 12 players with Utah ties remaining in the playoffs.


Here’s how other Utah ties on active rosters fared during Saturday’s divisional round action:

Ravens 34, Texans 10

Baltimore Ravens

  • Tyler Huntley, QB, Utah: Did not play.
  • Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU: Had 1 solo tackle.
  • Marcus Williams, S, Utah: Started at safety and had 2 tackles and 1 pass defection.

Houston Texans

  • Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham High: Had 5 receptions for 43 yards.

49ers 24, Packers 21

San Francisco 49ers

  • Fred Warner, MLB, BYU: Started at linebacker and had 7 tackles, including 6 solo stops, and a tackle for loss.
  • Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: Punted 4 times for a 44.8-yard average, with 2 inside the 20.

Green Bay Packers

  • Zayne Anderson, S, BYU and Stansbury High: Played as a sub, did not record any statistics.
  • Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: Started at quarterback and completed 21 of 34 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while also running for 3 yards on 5 carries.