With wild card weekend now in the past, the San Francisco 49ers now know who they will be facing in the divisional round of the playoffs. This coming Saturday they will welcome the high powered Green Bay Packers to Candlestick Park in a much anticipated rematch of the first game of the 2012 regular season. While the 49ers won that first meeting between the two teams 30-22, it is a completely different ball game this time around. Matter of fact, there are new faces for both teams that will weigh heavily on the outcome.
For the 49ers, the Packers have yet to face the elusive Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. It will be the first time all season that the Packers have faced a legitimate running quarterback. They played the Seahawks in week three against an elusive Russell Wilson, but in no way is he a run first option type of quarterback like Kaepernick. A good 49ers offensive game plan with Kaepernick just might keep the Packers defense guessing for most of the game as they have yet to have planned for any suck attack.
On the Packers side of the offense, the changes might be even more dramatic. First and foremost, wide receiver Randall Cobb has emerged into a heady go to guy that quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made a favorite. The 49ers have played against Cobb before, but never in the capacity he now carries with the team. He is much more mature and he has become a full on playmaker. The 49ers will have their hands full with Cobb if Rodgers gets comfortable. And the Packers running game is completely different than the first time they met this season. Cedric Benson is no longer the feature running back, that honor is helmed by the tandem of DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant now. And while the 49ers run defense is one of the best in the league, it does stand to reason that not having played against these two guys may cause problems in the long run.
Oh yeah, the Packers also have this one guy named Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback. Rodgers is at the top of the echelon of quarterbacks in the league, and his poise and understanding of the game can and has won many contests for them. The last thing the 49ers want to do is to get into another shootout with a surgeon quarterback. It has worked for them in the past, like in the game against the Patriots earlier this year. But the 49ers almost gave it away after they apparently dared Tom Brady to mastermind a comeback. It’s just never good to challenge quarterbacks like Brady and Rodgers to passing heroics. Nine times out of ten you will lose at that game.
To make matters worse for the 49ers, the Green Bay defense is just coming into its own. They are healthy and playing at a level along side the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks right now. In the wild card round, they held the Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson to just 99 yards and zero touchdowns. They also forced three turnovers in the game. Granted it was against the Vikings that were without their starting quarterback in the lineup. But still, it does create a lot of momentum heading forward, and with Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson fully healthy; it does look promising for the Packers.
It’s win or go home now, and the 49ers have a heaping plate of Packers brilliance to gobble up before they can move on. But if they stay with the offensive scheme that works for them and the defense get pressure to Rodgers, they could skate away with a victory and move on to the NFC Championship game.San
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