It’s well-known that these two teams met earlier this season, in Week 3. Rodgers performed some magic, setting up a game-winning field goal with 0:37 left and no timeouts. There are two things that stand out when re-watching that matchup: the Packers were up 17-0 and in complete control of the game, and San Francisco is extremely physical; that shows on every opportunity that presents itself.
Not to be outdone, this was the “coming out party” for the Packers’ defense to show their talent and physicality. Green Bay did win the turnover battle, 2-0. However, they only scored three points off of both turnovers combined. Jaire Alexander’s interception in the 2nd quarter was not only a fantastic play – by a great player, who Green Bay has been missing since the AC joint injury he suffered the following week – but it really could’ve been a dagger, had the Packers exploited it. Instead, the Packers’ drive stalled on the 49ers’ three yard line.
What does this matchup tell us about the upcoming battle? Likely nothing, other than that it’ll be a hard-fought, and likely close, game.
A Closer Look
Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan know each other well, and both are great at game-planning and in-game adjustments. The one constant is – and San Fran isn’t alone in this – Davante Adams is a problem.
There’s likely more to pull from San Francisco’s Wild Card game last week in Arlington, TX vs. the Dallas Cowboys. Neither team really played all that well, but the 49ers did come out and take control from the onset. Their opening drive ended with a 75-yard touchdown that saw #19 (WR Deebo Samuel) quite a bit out of the backfield, and they scored in just over four minutes. The Packers saw a bit of that in their Week 3 matchup, and now have ample tape to adjust and game plan for Saturday night.
San Francisco ran the ball to the tune of 169 yards on 38 attempts, for a 4.4 yards/carry average. They won the time of possession 33:57 to Dallas’ 26:03. That proved to be just enough to escape with the victory. The 49ers were able to get pressure with their front four, which is a well-known kryptonite for (not only) Aaron Rodgers. The best antidote? Run the football. So, stopping the run while running the ball – not really an unknown game plan.
Let’s see how these teams truly match-up.
Stats Tell the Story
|SF Def.||GB Off.|
|Rush||103.2 (7)||111.8 (18)|
|Pass||206.5 (6)||253.8 (8)|
|Total||310.0 (3)||365.6 (10)|
|Points||21.5 (T-9)||26.5 (T-9)|
|SF Off.||GB Def.|
|Rush||127.4 (7)||109.1 (T-10)|
|Pass||248.3 (12)||219.1 (10)|
|Total||375.7 (7)||328.2 (9)|
|Points||25.1 (13)||21.8 (T-13)|
Based on these rankings and production, it would seem that San Francisco has the clear advantage. While each team is tied for scoring in both offense and defense rank, the 49ers have the advantage in each yardage category except Green Bay’s pass defense, when compared to San Francisco’s pass offense.
In their Week 3 meeting, the Packers gained 353 yards (43.0 yards > San Fran’s season avg. allowed), held the 49ers to 298 total yards (76 yards less than their seasonal average), and tightened up the rush defense, allowing only 67 yards on 21 rush attempts. That’s likely due to Green Bay getting up 17-0 just before halftime.
If the Packers can not only win the turnover battle, but score touchdowns off those turnovers – not settle for turning it over on downs or kicking field goals – we should see Green Bay hosting the winner of the Rams vs. Buccaneers game next week in Lambeau Field.
The last thing to think about before Saturday night: while the 49ers didn’t have #57 Dre Greenlaw – their outstanding OLB that is great in pass coverage and tackling – the Packers were also missing a number of important players. #69 LT David Bakhtiari, #55 OLB Za’Darius Smith, #50 OLB Whitney Mercilus, and #29 CB Rasul Douglas all did not play.
Should #23 CB Jaire Alexander return with the aforementioned game-changers – and A.J. Dillon get more than eight touches, as he had in their previous match-up – the Packers should have the distinct advantage in the category of Returning Players.
Final Score Prediction:
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