Packers Set To Host 49ers In Round Two Showdown
After an impressive win over the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs, the No. 6 seeded San Francisco 49ers travel to Green Bay to take on the top seeded Packers.
This is a matchup we’ve already witnessed this season, as Green Bay earned a narrow 30-28 win over the 49ers in Week 3 after a game-winning drive by star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Despite that gutsy win, the Packers shouldn’t assume victory against San Francisco.
This is a team that has bested them many times before in the playoffs, with the most recent example coming in the 2019 NFC championship game where running back Raheem Mostert dominated Green Bay’s defense.
A lot has changed since that matchup two seasons ago, however.
The 49ers’ defense is no longer the strong suit of the team, with their multifaceted offense, led by wide receiver/running back swiss army knife Deebo Samuel, becoming their more dangerous unit in 2021.
The potential absences of some of the team’s best defenders in Nick Bosa and Fred Warner only adds to the decline of San Francisco’s defensive unit lately.
As for Green Bay, their defense has proven to be much better since the 2019 matchup.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has made it his mission to continue to improve that side of the ball for the Packers, and it seemingly has worked.
Recent signings of linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas have made major differences. And with Green Bay set to get two pro-bowlers back in Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith on Saturday, the best may still be to come for the Green Bay defense.
Despite this defensive improvement, the Packer offense is still the most crucial aspect of their team, especially when they have home-field advantage as they will against the Niners.
When Rodgers and his top target Davante Adams are on the field, there are very few who can slow them down.
The key to this game for San Francisco will have to be keeping up with the Packers on offense.
The Niners don’t have the best secondary, so chances are Rodgers, Adams and the rest of the Packer offense will be firing on all cylinders.
The best chance the Niners have in this game, especially in the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, will be trying to establish the run.
The exciting combo of Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell could prove devastating for the Packers if they are even a bit lackadaisical.
Sure the Packers’ run defense has improved, but they still can’t shrug off 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan’s resume as an innovative run schemer.
If the Packers are going to defend home-field and advance to the NFC title game for the third straight season, they are going to need to be sharper than they’ve been all season.
They may have posted an impressive 13-4 record, but Green Bay still has some small flaws that they can’t let the Niners exploit.
The Packers have a propensity to find themselves down after the first quarter.
While oftentimes this proved not to be so worrisome, in the playoffs it is too risky to waste any time.
One substantial touchdown early from Samuel or George Kittle could swing momentum the 49ers’ way.
But as long as Green Bay stays poised and urgent on offense, and as long as Kevin King does not see the field whatsoever, the Packers have a good chance at winning this matchup.
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.