TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 1: San Francisco 49ers At Green Bay Packers

49ers
Packers
San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers v San Diego Chargers
Quarterback
Alex Smith had the best year of his career in 2011 as he developed a great rapport with head coach Jim Harbaugh and made excellent decisions. However, Smith has not put together two good seasons in a row and he could struggle.
Winner In an era that has seen incredible quarterback play from Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers just may be the best in the business. He is athletic, accurate and has a strong arm that allows the Packers to light up the scoreboard.
Offense
The 49ers are going to have a diverse ground game with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and former New York Giant Brandon Jacobs all seeing action. Vernon Davis is a powerful man who can get open and make big plays downfield.
Winner The Packers have the best group of receivers in the league and Rodgers spreads the ball around to Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley. The Packers merely use the running game to take pressure off of Rodgers.
Defense
Winner The 49ers preach hard hitting and tackling better than any other team in the league. Justin Smith is a workhorse and a powerful tackler. Patrick Willis struggled with injuries last season but the 49ers got a lift from speedy NaVorro Bowman.
The Packers can’t match the 49ers for defensive firepower, but they can perform much better than they did last year. Clay Matthews is smart, nasty and fast. B.J. Raji can shut down the running game if he does not get tired.
Special Teams
Winner The 49ers should have an edge over nearly every opponent on special teams. The duo of placekicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee is a superb combination. Ted Ginn Jr. is capable of returning any kick for a touchdown.
The Packers are fairly happy with Mason Crosby at the placekicker slot after making 24-of-28 field goals a year ago. Punter Tim Masthay has a big leg but he outkicks his coverage at times.

We'll Just Call it a Tie

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Green Bay Packers v San Diego Chargers

While this game should be relatively even because of the Niners’ edge on defense and special teams, the Packers open the season at home and that should provide an edge. Jim Harbaugh’s edgy personality helped the Niners play at a high level last season, but he could start to rub some of his players the wrong way if they don’t start well.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. Frank Kaminsky #44 of the Wisconsin Badgers (Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis, Getty Images) Kaleb Tarczewski #35 of the Arizona Wildcats (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Elite Eight Tale: #1 Wisconsin Vs. #2 Arizona

    It is rematch time. Last year, the Wisconsin Badgers and Arizona Wildcats met in the Elite Eight and Wisconsin walked away with a 64-63 overtime win.

  2. Devin Booker #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Elite Eight Tale: #1 Kentucky Vs. #3 Notre Dame

    Coming into the Sweet 16, West Virginia showed confidence that they could be the team that finally knocked off the Kentucky Wildcats.

  3. (Photo Credit: Grant Halverson, Getty Images) (Photo Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr., Getty Images)
    Sweet 16: #1 Duke Vs. #5 Utah

    So much for the weak Pac-12 this year: The Utah Utes are one of three teams from the beleaguered conference to make the Sweet 16 this year, and they’ll face the best ACC team left in the tournament: Duke.

See All Tales of the Tape