Tale Of The Tape: Green Bay Packers At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackAaron Rodgers has been the best quarterback in the NFL over the last four years, but he has had a rough offseason. Former Packers wideouts Greg Jennings and Donald Driver criticized him for being selfish, and Rodgers tends to take remarks like those personally. He is probably the most accurate passer in the game and he has the ability to make plays on the run.Colin Kaepernick is a superior athlete and he earned the trust of head coach Jim Harbaugh last year. In a nearly unprecedented move, Harbaugh gave Kaepernick the starting job even though Alex Smith was playing quite well last year. Kaepernick played well last year and he should be even better this year.
- OffenseThe Packers are hoping that rookie power runner Eddie Lacy will give them a major upgrade in their ground game. If he can take some of the pressure off of Rodgers, the Packers will have a very dangerous offensive team. Jordy Nelson and Reggie Cobb are the two best receivers on the team and tight end Jermichael Finley can be a valuable third-down receiver.Anquan Boldin is going to become a very important man in the 49ers offense. He comes over after playing the role of possession receiver quite well with the Baltimore Ravens, the team that defeated the Niners in last year’s Super Bowl. Tight end Vernon Davis remains dangerous while running back Frank Gore is a dominating power back who can punish opposing defenses.
- DefenseThe Packers would like to build off of last year’s finish when they had the 11th-ranked defense in the league. They need another huge season from OLB Clay Matthews, who had 13.0 sacks last year, but he must get some help or he will wear out in the final month of the season. CB Sam Shields had three interceptions and one fumble recovery last year.The 49ers play with plenty of speed and aggressiveness on defense. That’s not going to change this year as Aldon Smith can get around the corner and play havoc with opposing quarterbacks. Justin Smith anchors the defensive line and can stop the run or get after the passer. NaVorro Bowman may be the fastest linebacker in the NFL and he is coming off a 149-tackle season.
- Special TeamsMason Crosby had a decent year for the Packers last season, making 16-of-21 FG attempts. There’s no reason he could not improve on that figure. P Tim Masthay average 43.5 yards per punt last year and that’s just ordinary.The Niners were nearly crippled by their special teams last year as the kicking game was unreliable. The Niners said good bye to veteran kicker David Akers and brought in Phil Dawson from the Cleveland Browns. Dawson could have a remarkable season for the high-scoring Niners.
The 49ers have too much speed for the Packers. They proved that in the playoffs last year and that has not changed in the offseason. The Packers really have little hope of containing Kaepernick if he decides to run with the ball, and that’s a big problem for Green Bay. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor