Chicago-area natives Coleman & Garoppolo help the 49ers to the NFC Championship
SANTA CLARA – After five-straight seasons without a playoff appearance, four of which ended with a losing record, there was finally joy at Levi’s Stadium this season.
The 49ers finished with a 13-3 record in 2019 and on Saturday won their first home playoff game since January of 2013 when they beat the Vikings 27-10 on Sunday afternoon in Santa Clara. It was their first postseason victory of any kind since January of 2014.
Two players who hail from the Chicago area had a big hand in making that happen.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, an Arlington Heights native who made a name for himself first at Rolling Meadows High School and Eastern Illinois University, got the first playoff start of his six-year NFL career on Saturday. He’d been on the Patriots during their playoff runs from 2014-2016 but only took snaps in the fourth quarter of a 45-7 AFC Championship win over the Colts in January 2015.
He completed 11-of-19 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception, connecting with Kendrick Bourne on a first drive score that got the 49ers off to a solid start.
Yet the San Francisco offense went to the ground more often than not to beat Minnesota, and a lot of those carries went to Tinley Park native and former Oak Forest High School star Tevin Coleman. He carried 22 times for 105 yards and his two second half touchdowns helped the 49ers pull away for the victory.
For Coleman, it was his first 100-yard rushing game in the playoffs in his career, having played in five previous contests for the Falcons in 2016 and 2017, including Super Bowl LII. It tied exactly his rushing high for the season with the 49ers, having also gained 105 yards against the Panthers on October 27th.
Now the 49ers wait to see who they’ll host next week for the NFC Championship as either the Packers or the Seahawks make their way to Levi’s Stadium. One more win and San Francisco heads to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2012 season, with two Chicago-area natives helping to lead the way.