They survived, but it was ugly. Yes, they stole a playoff win by upsetting Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field – a huge feat – but no, the way they played is not sustainable. At least not on offense.
As a whole, the 49ers only managed to score a measly 13-points. Excluding a blocked punt their special teams returned for a game-changing touchdown, the offense only scored 6 points – all via Field Goals, one of which came as time expired.
Looking at advanced stats, the picture gets even uglier. On an Expected Points-basis, which is an advanced stat measuring how many points, on average, a team is expected to score given a particular game context, the 49ers offense produced NEGATIVE 11.56 expected points. That is not a typo. Their offense produced negative expected points, which means their drives performed so badly that their opponent, the Packers, were considered more likely to score next even when San Francisco had the ball.
The Packers defense they faced that day was good – but not LA Rams good. To beat the Rams, San Francisco MUST find a way to spark their offense, and it can’t just be through the run game. Yes, the 49ers have a formidable rushing attack, but everyone knows that – especially LA (SF averaged 145.5 rush yards/game in their 2 matchups this year). If the Rams defense stacks the box and tries to suffocate the run, the 49ers must be prepared to counterattack through the air, and I’m not convinced they’re capable of doing that given their QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, is dealing with lingering shoulder and hand injuries.
To be fair, the 49ers defense and special teams are elite enough to steal the game even when the offense flounders, as they did in Green Bay. San Francisco just can’t bank on it. It’s just not a sustainable strategy.