In week 3 of the regular season, the Green Bay Packers handed the San Francisco 49ers their first loss of the year. It was a great back and forth game with the Niners down 27 - 21 with under a minute left in the 4th quarter. Jimmy Garopollo led San Fran down the field ending with a go ahead touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk to put the 49ers up 28 - 27.
However the Packers had MVP Aaron Rodgers and 37 seconds left to get into field goal range. No problem for Rodgers and the Packers as he hit star wide receiver DeVante Adams on two big throws to get Mason Crosby close enough to kick the game winning field goal as time ran out giving the Pack the 30 - 28 victory.
In recent years the 49ers have had the Packers number by using the run game to move the ball and keep Rodgers on the sideline. In 2019 these teams faced off in the NFC Championship Game where the Niners game plan was in full effect, rushing for over 200 yards and never letting the Packers in the game. Can the underdogs pull off the same kind of feat against the #1 ranked Packers?
Good news for the Niners is the Packers still have problems stopping the run game, ranked 21st in the league. San Fran can put rookie Elijah Mitchell or freak of nature Deebo Samuel in the backfield and have a field day against the Packers swiss cheese defense. If the Packers begin to load the box and try to stop the run then watch out for quick slants to Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo, plus the great play making ability of tight end George Kittle. Jimmy G certainly isn't the greatest quarterback in the world but he has a history of getting the job done when called upon.
courtesy of The San Francisco Chronicle
Conversely the Pack love throwing the ball but do have a nice balance on offense as Aaron Jones continues to display Pro Bowl ability and now hard hitting A.J. Dillon is in the mix. The Packers offense is lethal with weapons all over the place. The 49ers will play their usual defense with a four man rush and dropping back 7 players in a man-zone combination. The key for the Niners is getting to Rodgers quickly off the ball to not allow plays to develop downfield.
If Green Bay can put a hold on the 49ers run game and make Jimmy G have to throw the ball then the Gold Rush may shut down. The Niners cannot allow the Pack to get off to a fast start. The Niners aren't built to play from behind, especially against an offense like the Packers.
San Francisco needs to replicate exactly what they did in the wild card win against the Cowboys. Make life tough on the QB, stuff the run and have the secondary be in position to create turnovers. The problem is the Green Bay Packers are a much more efficient, well coached team and the Pack don't hurt themselves with penalties like Dallas does. If you're gonna beat the Packers you need to play a near flawless game.
I don't think the Niners can do that unless they pull a Belichick and only let the quarterback throw the ball 3 times. The weather shouldn't play a factor with the style the Niners play nor will it negatively effect the home team.
I see the #1 ranked Packers coming out quick and strong. I believe they will mix up the pass and run well and go up tempo for a while in the first half, not allowing the 49ers to make defensive substitutions. Aaron Rodgers sees the entire field better than any quarterback and if the play breaks down he can still use his feet and busted toe to run for a first down. The only way I see the 49ers winning this game is by winning the turnover battle. Not likely against Rodgers who threw only 4 picks all year. I picked the Packers to win the Super Bowl so it seems fit to pick them in the divisional round. Prediction: Packers 31 - 49ers 16