George Kittle, 49ers won't use freezing cold as 'excuse' vs. Packers

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Kittle, 49ers won't use freezing cold as 'excuse' vs. Packers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers' reward for beating the No. 3-seeded Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Game is a Saturday trip to Green Bay to face the top-seeded Packers in what is expected to be frigid temperatures at Lambeau Field.

The current forecast for Saturday night's game, which is set to kickoff at 7:15 p.m. local time, is 15 degrees with a wind chill around zero. The temperature will only drop as the game wears on.

Such is life for the No. 6-seeded 49ers, who are prepared to face Aaron Rodgers and the elements with a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line.

"I've played in some really cold games before," George Kittle, who played his college football at Iowa, told reporters Wednesday. "I think the coldest one I played in was like minus-28 degrees with wind chill. That was really fun. My key to staying warm is just to play -- play a lot of snaps so you keep your blood going. The heated seats and the heater on the sideline are probably really nice. But hey, it's football. You can't really use the cold as an excuse. You've just got to go out there and perform at a high level. I think it's just going to be really fun. It's just a little bit more adversity for us to try to battle through."

Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk played junior college football in Reno, Nev., before transferring to Arizona State, knows it will be a different game on the frozen tundra but that's something the 49ers will have to conquer in order to advance.

"Before I went to Arizona State I played football in Reno, Nevada," Aiyuk said "At the end of the day, we've got to put the ball down to play football. We're not sure exactly what the weather's going to be, whether we have to change the cleats, change out certain things, but we're just going out there expecting to play a football game, and we'll go from there. However the weather acts, however, we need to go about it, we'll just adjust and go from there."

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Coach Kyle Shanahan addressed the frigid temperatures facing his team Monday, noting that it's often the inclement weather and not just the cold that impacts the game. That being said, Shanahan has preached to his team that they need to be in the right mental state to not let the cold impact the outcome of the game.

“Whatever guys need you to do, just understand that it is a real deal,” Shanahan said. “The weather is cold out there, but that's no reason to affect a game.

“Wind is a much bigger factor. Rain is a bigger factor. But the cold weather, you could do something about that, and I believe it also helps when you're out there playing football because when you're running and hitting, you don't stay too cold.”

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo grew up in the Chicago suburbs of Arlington Heights and played his college football at Eastern Illinois, so he's played many games in freezing temperatures. He knows how to deal with it and believes the 49ers have the mentality to overcome the elements.

“I've lived in it my whole life, so there's just different ways,” said Garoppolo, who is dealing with sprains to his right thumb and right shoulder. “I think people who have grown up in it and played in it for a long time, there's ways to prepare for it, things that you kind of know going into it.

“I think our team, we have a good mindset going into this thing and we know what it's going to be like on Saturday, so it'll be a hell of an atmosphere.”

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