By Jerrell Richardson
Outside of the Seattle Seahawks, the one team the 49ers would have liked to avoid on their way back to the NFC Championship Game was the Green Bay Packers. However, if they wish to build on last year’s success, they will need to knock off Aaron Rodgers, and a Packer team that after a slow start, ended the regular season winning 9 of their last 11 games. Green Bay was slowed down by injuries early in the season, but at the most important time of the year are getting healthy and will bring one of the more deeper rosters to Candlestick on January 12th. San Francisco should be very confident that they can beat the playoff tested Packers though, and a win can will send a resounding message to the rest of the NFC, while moving the 49esr one step closer to their ultimate goal.
Not The Same Teams From Week 1
The two teams squared off in the first game of the season, with San Francisco escaping Lambeau with a 30-22 victory. This game feels like it was ages ago, but will still give the 49ers some confidence, who will get to play the rematch at Candlestick. To beat the Green Bay Packers is easy, shut down Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay has a host of play makers on defense, and with Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, have two players with an uncanny knack for forcing turnovers, but Green Bay is centered around one very talented quarterback. Not only is Rodgers one of the best all around players at his position, he is surrounded by the deepest receiving core in the NFL. After missing several games this season due to injuries, both Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson are getting back into the grove of things, and when adding them to the ranks of Randall Cobb, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jermichael Finley, the 49er secondary figures to be under heavy duress the entire game. When Green Bay spreads out the formation they are almost impossible to cover, and this will be the biggest challenge for San Francisco. This is where the health of Justin Smith, and the effectiveness of the Smith’s come into play.
Stop Rodgers, Stop The Packers
If there is one kink in the armor of Aaron Rodgers, it’s his inability to get rid of the ball. His aggressive mentality often time results in him not wanting to throw the ball away, and he will take a sack as he waits for someone to get open. Rodgers led the NFL in sacks this season with 51, and to slow the Packers passing game down, Justin Smith will need to not only be on the field, but effective. If he can play remotely close to the level he was at before his torn triceps, then both he and Aldon Smith be able to disrupt Rodgers and not only record a few sacks, but pressure Rodgers into a bad decision. With no real running game to keep San Francisco honest, if able to frustrate and limit Rodgers, then the 49ers will be able to silence the Green Bay Offense. This daunting task is far easier said then done, but is the first, second and third keys to the game if San Francisco hopes to move on to the next round.
Outside of being picked apart through the air, the 49ers match up very well against the Packers. This is due to the fact that despite the elevated play of the Green Bay defense, this team wins and loses with it’s offense, specifically Mr. Rodgers. This plays right into the hand of San Francisco who have one of the best defensive units in the league, and with one of the best run defenses in the league, will make an already one dimensional team completely one sided. The offense should be able to move the ball where the other key will be to get points on the board early so that they can stay run orientated which will control the clock and keep the Packer offense on the sideline. If Justin and Aldon Smith have big games, then the San Francisco secondary will have a fighting chance of blanketing the Packer receivers, and for the second time this year, the 49ers will beat the Packers. If they are unable to get pressure from their pass rush however, it could be a long day for the 49ers.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.