February 25, 2024

The San Francisco 49ers took care of unfinished business.

A year after their Super Bowl dreams died because of an elbow injury suffered by quarterback Brock Purdy in the NFC championship game, the star-studded 49ers entered the season with a mission to return to the Super Bowl.

They achieved their goal Sunday, overcoming a 17-point halftime deficit to defeat the Detroit Lions 34-31 in the NFC championship game at Levi’s Stadium.

Purdy passed for a touchdown and scrambled several times for long gains, running back Christian McCaffrey rushed for two touchdowns and the defense forced a fumble and incomplete passes on several key fourth-down plays as the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl for the eighth time.

The 49ers will play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

It will be a rematch from the 2019-20 season, when the Chiefs defeated the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in Miami. The five-time Super Bowl champion 49ers are seeking their first title since 1995, when they defeated the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX in Miami.

The loss ended a dream season for the Lions, coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff, who appeared to have the Lions on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance.

But coach Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers, who were defeated by the Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles in the last two conference championship games, were not going to lose a third in a row.

Purdy completed 20 of 31 passes for 267 yards, including a touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk, with an interception. He rushed for 51 yards in four carries.

McCaffrey rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries and caught four passes for 42 yards.

Goff completed 25 of 41 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown.

By overcoming the 17-point deficit, the 49ers tied the championship game record they set in 2012-13 season, when they came back to defeat the Atlanta Falcons.

Jameson Williams’ 42-yard touchdown run on a reverse, touchdown runs by David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs and Goff’s clutch passing helped the Lions forge a 24-7 halftime lead.

The 49ers cut the lead with a field goal early in the third quarter, and they seized the momentum after Campbell opted to go for it on fourth and two at the 49ers’ 28-yard line rather than try a field goal. Goff’s pass to Josh Reynolds fell incomplete.

Aiyuk’s spectacular 51-yard catch set up his six-yard touchdown catch, pulling the 49ers to within 24-17.

On the Lions’ first play after the touchdown, the 49ers forced Gibbs to fumble. A Purdy scramble set up McCaffrey’s one-yard touchdown to tie the score with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

The 49ers took the lead early in the fourth on Jake Moody’s 33-yard field goal.

The Lions’ hopes appeared to end with about 7:30 left after Goff’s fourth-down pass at the 49ers’ 30-yard line fell incomplete.

A scramble by Purdy and a long run by McCaffrey set up Elijah Mitchell’s short touchdown run that extended the lead to 10 points.

Goff pulled the Lions to within three points with a short touchdown pass to Williams, but George Kittle recovered the ensuing onside kick and the 49ers ran out the clock.

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