Aaron Rodgers returned from a broken collarbone injury to lead the Packers into the playoff by winning the NFC North on the last day of regular season. His opposition this Sunday, Colin Kaepernick, finished the regular season with a six game winning streak, but couldn’t secure the top spot in the NFC West.
Statistically, the Packers have the 24th worst defense in the league, allowing 26.8 points per game. During the regular season, they gave up more points than any team that qualified for the playoff. Since week 7, Packers defense has conceded 21 points or more.
To make matters worse, the Packers defense will be without linebacker, Clay Matthews, when they face a 49ers offense that hasn’t turned the ball over since week 14.
This season, Kaepernick became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 20 touchdown passes to only three receivers. Anquan Boldin caught seven, Vernon Davis caught 13 and Michael Crabtree hauled in one.
Due to his lack of depth at the wide receiver position, Jim Harbaugh should test the wounded Packers defensive frontline by calling a lot of plays for his running backs. With five gigantic offensive linemen‒Mike Iaputi (6’5”, 331), Joe Staley (6’5”, 315), Jonathan Goodwin (6’3”, 318), Alex Boone (6’8”, 300) and Anthony Davis (6’5”, 323)–blocking, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter should run all over Green Bay’s defense.
Rodgers will be without Jermichael Finley when he goes up against a miserly 49ers defense that allowed 221 passing yards per game in the regular season. However, Randall Cobb’s return from injury should fill the void left by Finley.
The Packers offensive linemen will have to be at their best if they are to repel San Francisco’s rushers‒Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks.
Players to watch out for:
Green Bay Packers:
Aaron Rodgers: On his best day, Rodgers is arguably the league’s best quarterback. He’ll have to score a lot of points to keep his team in the game.
Randall Cobb: Cobb is just what the doctor ordered for the Packers. The fast wide receiver has to complement Jordy Nelson by being the go-to guy on third downs.
Mike Daniels and A.J. Hawk: With Clay Matthews out, the responsibility of getting to the quarterback rests on their shoulders.
San Francisco 49ers:
Colin Kaepernick: The young quarterback should be well-protected against a mediocre defense. He needs to let the game come to him, instead of trying to do too much.
Vernon Davis: In five career playoff games, Davis has four 100-yards receiving games. If Dom Capers, Green Bay’s defensive coordinator, doesn't do something about his safeties, Davis will have more than 100 yards receiving.
Offensive linemen: if they protect Kaepernick and set good blocks for the running backs, we might have a blow-out on our hands.
San Francisco 49ers 35-21 Green Bay Packers