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Angry 49ers have gold rush in second half vs. Lions

Things were looking bleak when the San Francisco 49ers trailed 24-7 at halftime. Then the 49ers had a California gold rush in the second half.

The 49ers scored 27 unanswered points between the third and fourth quarters as they rallied back to defeat the Detroit Lions, 34-31, to advance to the Super Bowl 58.

In what was a tale of two halves for the 49ers. And at the same time a massive playoff meltdown by the Lions.

“We were just pissed off. Guys were extremely pissed. That first half, it wasn’t just that we were down 17 (points), it was the way we were down. They were kind of having their way in the run game, we weren’t getting much in our run game either and we didn’t want to go out like that,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That would’ve been a real rough way to end it if we couldn’t play better.”

The 49ers’ 17-point comeback win matched the largest comeback victory in NFC championship game history. Coincidentally, it tied the 2012 49ers, who came back from down 17 to defeat the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers were previously 0-5 when trailing by at least 14 points at any point in a game since 2022, according to NFL Research.

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“That’s why football is four quarters. We knew we had the guys that if we were gonna do it, we got the guys that can make it happen,” 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey said. “Just so proud to be a part of this group. Showed a lot of resilience, this week and last week.”

Niners quarterback Brock Purdy told reporters postgame that Shanahan and All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner spoke to the team at halftime, which set everything in motion.

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk’s circus 51-yard catch sparked a furious rally. Three plays after Aiyuk’s catch, the 49ers pulled within one score.

Detroit fumbled the football on its very next possession.

Then the gold rush was in full force.  

The 49ers scored off the turnover, which was part of their scoring onslaught that featured 17 points in an eight-minute span. A Lions punt followed by a turnover on downs, led to 10 more 49ers points for a total of 27 unanswered points in the second half.

“Guys care about each other in this locker room and what we have been through. We got a core group of guys who have been here the past couple years and the standard and culture that they’ve built,” Purdy said. “It showed tonight in a huge moment. If you’re down 17, you got to care about each other, care about each other to get a comeback going. I think we showed that tonight. I’m really proud of this group.”

Shanahan is now 2-2 in conference title games. The 49ers’ victory now sets up a date with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 58, which will be a rematch of the Super Bowl four years ago.

“They’re a hell of a team. Got a hell of a coach, hell of a quarterback, hell of a defense,” Shanahan said of the Chiefs. “We already have a pretty good idea how it’s going to look. They’ve been doing it a while. Since we met them in ’19, seems like they’ve been there every year since. We have been trying really hard to get back to this moment. We have been close a number of times. This time we got it done.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on X @TheTylerDragon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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