GEEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — San Francisco's defense smothered Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense for most of the game, then made one last stand to stop a late rally.
The Packers rallied from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and pulled within eight points when Rodgers threw a touchdown pass to James Jones with 6:05 left, but the 49ers defense held the Packers in the final minute to come away with a big win to open the season.
Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 2-point conversion early in the fourth quarter cut the 49ers lead to 23-15. But Rodgers threw an interception to linebacker NaVorro Bowman and Frank Gore ran for a 23-yard touchdown.
David Akers tied an NFL record when he kicked a 63-yard field goal to the end the first half, with the ball bouncing off the crossbar and going through the uprights.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's stingy defense denied Matthew Stafford another milestone and Vernon Davis caught touchdown passes of 21 and 23 yards from Alex Smith.
Smith completed 20 of 31 throws for 226 yards and extended his franchise-record streak of passes without an interception to 216, leading the NFC West favorite Niners to their ninth straight win in the series.
The 49ers ran their home winning streak against the Lions to 12 games.
Frank Gore carried 17 times for 89 yards and a 1-yard touchdown for the 49ers.
Stafford finished 19 for 32 with 230 yards, one touchdown and an interception, missing a chance to become the first player in NFL history to throw for 350 yards in five straight games.
David Akers kicked field goals from 36 and 48 yards for San Francisco and Jason Hanson hit from 38, 41, 40 and 48 yards for the Lions, who scored their touchdown on Stafford's 9-yard TD pass to Brandon Pettigrew with 1:29 remaining.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Christian Ponder threw two touchdown passes to tight end Kyle Rudolph and ran for another score to help the Vikings hand the 49ers their first defeat.
After a dominant start to their NFC North tour by decisively beating playoff teams Green Bay and Detroit, the 49ers were beaten in every way by a team least likely to do so.
The Vikings began the game boldly with a fourth-and-goal touchdown pass by Ponder to Rudolph. They finished strong by forcing three turnovers and two punts by the 49ers in the fourth quarter.
Playing against his former team in the regular season for the first time, Randy Moss had three catches for 27 yards. Alex Smith's franchise-record interception-free streak ended at 249 straight passes.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Carlos Rogers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown, and San Francisco ran for more than 200 yards.
Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick — on a wildcat-style option — all ran for scores as the 49ers bounced back from a loss at Minnesota.
It was the first time New York was shut out since losing 9-0 to Green Bay in 2010, and the Jets' biggest shutout home loss since falling 37-0 to Buffalo in 1989.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alex Smith threw for a season-high 303 yards and three touchdowns, Frank Gore ran for 106 yards and a score, and San Francisco amassed a franchise-record 621 yards.
Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis each eclipsed 100 yards receiving to back Smith, who threw TD passes of 43, 28 and 10 yards and surpassed 300 yards passing for only the third time in his career.
Rian Lindell kicked a 31-yard field goal in the first quarter before San Francisco scored the final 42 points.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Antrel Rolle intercepted two passes by Alex Smith, Prince Amukamara picked off another for New York in a rematch of last season's NFC championship game.
After outscoring the Bills and Jets by a combined 79-3 the last two weeks, the 49ers met their match again with Eli Manning and New York's top team.
Manning threw for 193 yards and one touchdown, Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 116 yards and a score and the Giants rode a dominant defense and four field goals by Lawrence Tynes to hand outspoken 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh the most lopsided loss of his tenure.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alex Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker late in the third quarter and San Francisco held off Seattle 13-6 on Thursday night as the 49ers won their long-awaited division opener.
Frank Gore ran for 116 yards and the 49ers took over sole possession of first place in the NFC West by making just enough plays to win this defense-first game, featuring two teams allowing fewer than 16 points per game.
Walker's score was San Francisco's first touchdown in seven quarters.
Smith went 14 of 23 for 140 yards in another subpar performance.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — On an almost perfect Monday night for Alex Smith, San Francisco flexed its NFC West dominance by flattening Arizona.
Smith completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns two to Michael Crabtree and one to Randy Moss, as San Francisco opened a two-game lead in the division and sent Arizona to its fourth straight lost.
Smith's only incompletion was dropped by a wide-open receiver.
Smith was 14 of 15 and for 146 yards and two touchdowns, both to Crabtree, to help the 49ers build a 17-0 halftime lead.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco and St. Louis played the NFL's first tie game in four years as kickers from both teams missed overtime field goals.
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yarder, but the Rams were penalized 5 yards for delay of game. He tried again from 58 as coach Jeff Fisher played for the win, and missed wide right with 2:42 left in OT.
San Francisco's David Akers missed wide left on a 41-yard attempt that could have sealed it for the 49ers, who lost quarterback Alex Smith to a first-half concussion.
And just when it seemed the 49ers — and Akers' typically reliable left leg — would have one more chance to win it, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis was flagged for holding Lance Kendricks on third down. That extended St. Louis' last drive, a costly mistake in a long list of them on an uncharacteristically sloppy day by coach Jim Harbaugh's team.
Akers booted a tying 33-yarder with 3 seconds left in regulation after Sam Bradford threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 1:09 remaining.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Colin Kaepernick passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start in place of the injured Alex Smith, and San Francisco whipped Chicago in a highly touted NFC showdown that hardly lived up to the hype.
Kaepernick threw touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and Kendall Hunter ran for a 14-yard TD as San Francisco jumped out to a big lead by scoring on each of its first four possessions — with Aldon Smith wreaking havoc on the other side of the ball with five sacks.
Jason Campbell, the other quarterback in this matchup of backups for two division leaders, threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall in the third quarter but was sacked five times and threw two interceptions in his first start since October 2011 for Oakland.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Colin Kaepernick ran for one score that he made look easy and threw for a touchdown in another performance that validated coach Jim Harbaugh's decision to start him.
The San Francisco defense added its share of big plays and the 49ers ended the Saints' three-game winning streak.
Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returned interceptions for touchdowns and the 49ers sacked Brees five times.
Kaepernick was solid in his second career start while Alex Smith, deemed healthy enough to suit up after recovering from a concussion, watched from the sideline. Kaepernick passed for 231 yards, including a short touchdown to Frank Gore. He also ran for a 7-yard score. He threw his first career interception, but it was inconsequential.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime after booting a 53-yarder as time expired in regulation.
The winning kick allowed the Rams to avoid a second tie in three weeks against the NFC West leaders.
The Rams scored twice in the final 3:04 of regulation, getting their lone touchdown when rookie Janoris Jenkins returned an errant pitchout by Colin Kaepernick 2 yards for a score.
The 49ers failed to take advantage of a 14-yard punt by rookie punter Johnny Hekker to midfield when David Akers was barely wide right on a 51-yard attempt with 4:11 to go in overtime. Akers is just 7 for 15 from 40 yards and beyond.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Frank Gore ran for a 1-yard touchdown and reached 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career.
Gore finished with 63 yards, Anthony Dixon also had a 1-yard scoring run and Colin Kaepernick ran for a late 50-yard touchdown and threw for 185 yards in his fourth straight start since being promoted over Alex Smith.
NFL sacks leader Aldon Smith added two to his total for 19 1/2, passing Fred Dean's franchise-best single-season mark of 17 1/2 set in 1983. Smith also moved within three sacks of Michael Strahan's seasonal NFL record set in 2001 with the New York Giants.
Michael Crabtree had nine catches for 93 yards and rookie LaMichael James ran for 30 yards in a solid NFL debut for the 49ers.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — San Francisco earned a playoff berth by withstanding a stunning comeback by New England from a 28-point deficit.
Michael Crabtree took a short pass from Colin Kaepernick and sped around cornerback Kyle Arrington for a 38-yard touchdown with 6:25 to go, then David Akers made a 28-yard field goal to clinch it.
Kaepernick threw for four touchdowns, two to Crabtree, who had 107 yards receiving. The defense rattled Tom Brady at times, but also yielded 443 yards passing.
AFC East champion New England, which had won seven in a row, trailed 31-3 at one point and lost for the first time at home in December in 21 games.
SEATTLE (AP) — Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes to move into second place for TD passes by a rookie, Marshawn Lynch scored twice, and led by their rocking crowd Seattle clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs with a rout of San Francisco.
Wilson threw TDs to Lynch, Anthony McCoy and two in the second half to Doug Baldwin to give him 25 for the season, one shy of Peyton Manning's record of 26. Lynch added 111 yards rushing and a 24-yard TD run on Seattle's opening drive that set the tone.
Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown and added an interception for the Seahawks.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers struggled with the deafening noise echoing around CenturyLink Field, making for a miserable 49th birthday for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Michael Crabtree caught touchdown passes of 49 and 7 yards as San Francisco won a second straight NFC West title.
Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 276 yards and two TDs as the Niners (11-4-1) earned a No. 2 seed thanks to Green Bay's loss to Minnesota.
Frank Gore ran for a 2-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for his franchise-best 51st touchdown rushing.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Colin Kaepernick ran for a quarterback playoff record 181 yards and two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to Michael Crabtree in leading the San Francisco back to the NFC championship game.
Playoff first-timer Kaepernick outshined reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who never got in sync for the Packers in finishing 26 of 39 for 257 yards with two touchdowns.
Kaepernick ran for scores of 20 and 56 yards on the way to topping the rushing mark of 119 yards held by Michael Vick. Crabtree caught TD passes of 12 and 20 yards in the second quarter and wound up with nine receptions and 119 yards for the Niners.
San Francisco had 579 total yards, 323 on the ground.
ATLANTA (AP) — Frank Gore ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns and San Francisco rebounded from a 17-0 deficit to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995.
The top-seeded Falcons tried to pull out another season-saving drive at the end, but Matt Ryan's fourth-down pass for Roddy White with 1:13 remaining was knocked down by San Francisco linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
San Francisco will be trying to join Pittsburgh as the only teams with six Super Bowl championships.