When looking at the match up between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers this Saturday, it becomes inevitable to try and find match up advantages and weaknesses in the Packers game. While there is not a weakness that glaringly stands out to any run of the mill football fan. There are a few that can be touched upon if you really dig deep into their team make up. Granted this by no means determines that it will be easy to exploit them in their weaker areas, it is just a guide to the minor shortcomings they do have. As a matter of fact, just focusing in any weakness that they have might make quarterback Aaron Rodgers put his super hero uniform on and decimate any hopes the 49ers have. But it’s worth a shot.
The only part of the Packers offense that really stands out as a weakness is the running game. While the 49ers have not faced this running back tandem of DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant this year, it is fair to say that the 49ers run defense is one of the best in the league. That fact couple with the fact that the Packers rely so heavily on the arm of Rodgers makes the running game a key factor to a 49ers victory. The Packers just don’t run the ball that often, since their week ten bye they have only been averaging about 25 rushes by their running backs per game. That’s not a ton of carries, especially between two and sometimes three ball carriers. If the 49ers can somehow handcuff the running attack of the Packers and make them a one-dimensional team in the passing game, they stand a decent chance of walking away with a victory.
However, stopping the passing game is easier said than done. Rodgers is one of the most efficient passers in the league. And he has the instincts and talent to pick a defense apart. Throw in the fact that he has about eight different targets that have game breaker potential that he tosses the ball to, and it seems like an insurmountable hill. But the 49ers have to start somewhere, and if slowing the running game forces Rodgers to look downfield more often, then they might have to take the good with the bad. If Rodgers does throw that often, two things have to happen for the 49ers defense. One they can not give up the deep ball and get forced into pass interference penalties, and two Rodgers has to have an off night with his accuracy.
How do the 49ers force Rodgers into a sub par game? They have to get to him early and often. And unfortunately for Packers fans, it is very possible that 49ers force the mistakes needed. Rodgers as good as he is was sacked 51 times during the 2012 regular season, making him number one in the entire NFL. As for the 49ers defense, they only rush three guys, hardly blitz, and were still tied for eighth in the league in sacks on the opposing quarterbacks. With a defense as savvy and as experienced as the 49ers have, they stand a good chance of imposing their will on the Packers shaky offensive line play. With any luck, though it is not an easy task to achieve, the 49ers rattle Rodgers and force him into bad decisions.
All in all, there is not a lot of dents in the Packers team to take shots at, not to mention they are playoff tested and ultimately Super Bowl caliber. So without getting too ambitious, 49ers 28, Packers 24, with Rodgers getting sacked four times.
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