Packers vs. 49ers: What to Watch For, Playoff Edition

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Justin Smith

The Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers met all the way back in week 1, a 30-22 49ers win at Lambeau Field. The Packers will look to avenge that loss on an even bigger stage — the divisional playoffs — at Candlestick Park (or whatever the hell they call that atrocity of a stadium these days).

Here’s the lowdown on the rematch.

Who’s not playing?
The Packers are healthy for the second week in a row. Only receiver Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Jerel Worthy are out. Everyone else is going to play. Unfortunately, the 49ers are healthier. All of their players will be available, including defensive tackle Justin Smith, who tore a triceps tendon on Dec. 16.

Who should I bet on?
The 49ers are three-point favorites. Since teams get three points just for playing at home that means oddsmakers view this as an even matchup. The Packers are 4-4 on the road against the spread and the 49ers are 6-1-1 at home. That tells you to take the 49ers, which is a sound strategy. Frankly, if the Packers lose, then at least you’re likely making some money. If they win, then who gives a shit if you lost your bet!

What To Watch For

Colin Kaepernick

The goddam read-option
The read-option is all the rage in the NFL and the 49ers run it as well as anyone. So what is this gimmicky shit? Essentially, the quarterback has the option to run the ball himself, hand it off to a back or throw based on what the defense is doing. It’s quick-hitting and utilizes the talents of mobile quarterbacks like San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick to the maximum. The Packers haven’t seen it this season, except for briefly last week against Joe Webb and Minnesota. If we learned anything from that small sampling, it’s that the Packers look like they plan to use safety Charles Woodson to shadow the quarterback. The real question is, are the Packers equipped to stop this type of attack? If they can, it could be a long day for the home team.

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy vs. Vic Fangio
It’s always worrisome when you’re putting Mike McCarthy in a battle of wits with an opposing coach. More often than not, that duel goes in favor of the opposition. Nonetheless, that’s what we’re looking at with McCarthy’s offense against Fangio’s defense, this week. There are match-ups the Packers can take advantage of. Patrick Willis, arguably the best linebacker in the NFL, sat most of the week 1 game while the 49ers employed an extra defensive back to combat the Packers deep passing game. Not surprisingly, McCarthy was at a loss on how to combat that strategy. Fangio will throw different looks at McCarthy this week. The difference between this time and last is McCarthy had 16 weeks worth of 49ers game tape to pour over. He should be prepared, but we’re talking about the king of the non-adjustment here. Some in-game wrinkle by Fangio could completely throw McCarthy off track, resulting in a series of buffoonish decisions.

Justin Smith

Justin Smith’s impact on the 49ers pass rush
Huge key to the game. It turns out, the 49ers defensive backs aren’t that good. The 49ers pass rush and Aldon Smith — he of the 19.5 sacks — were more or less non-existent without Justin Smith in the lineup. Aldon Smith didn’t have a sack in those two games and the team had just three total. That, in turn, exposed San Francisco’s DBs. We know Justin Smith is playing, but who knows how effective he’ll be. If he isn’t effective, big advantage Packers. If he is, this game could look a lot like week 1.

Jermichael Finley gets his groove back

The no-huddle
The Packers ran the no-huddle offense here and there this season. You could see a lot of it in this game. It keeps opposing defenses from substituting, which is especially useful when you’re trying to take advantage of match-ups like Patrick Willis trying to cover Randall Cobb. And hey, if the 49ers are going to run that read-option shit, the Packers may as well go no huddle. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with putting the game in No. 12’s hands.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

9 Comments on "Packers vs. 49ers: What to Watch For, Playoff Edition"

  1. Kozak

    Really, McCarthy usually loses the coaching battle?
    Want to ask Reid, Smith, Smith, and Tomlinson?
    How about Childress, Frazier, Schwartz , ect etc etc.
    Show te man some respect.

  2. Packer Bob

    I won’t call him a buffoon but he does seem to have trouble making in-game adjustments. Or rather, he’s really stubborn about making changes.

  3. nurseratchett

    I believe if we win this game, we are SB Champs.

    The keys to the game are as simple as they’ve been all season. O-line & Defense.


  4. Credible

    I disagree with MM not making adjustments. Many games this year the Packers went in to halftime down and came out the 2nd half and took care of business. It took me about 1/2 the season to stop yelling at the TV in the first half knowing that he would adjust in the second. I’ll agree some of his calls have been questionable, but adjustments…I think he’s been mostly money.

  5. Shawn Iltarion

    Carlos Rodgers, Dashon Goldston, Donte Whitner, Tyrel Brown… I wouldn’t exactly say the 49ers are weak on the back end.

    They struggle to get to the QB if Aldon Smith gets blocked, and no secondary can be left without a pass rush.

    Most games come down to players against players, not coach against coach. The 49ers don’t rely on a lot of trickery or quantum physics to play defense. They stop the run with their front 7, rarely blitz, and drop 7 guys on pass plays. Those 7 guys include linebackers and safeties who play well together and cover a lot of ground.

    And most of all, they play PHYSICAL.

    The Packers win if Marshall Newhouse has a reasonable game against Aldon Smith, and Aaron Rodgers does what he is capable of. Rodgers needs to get rid of the ball against that 2 deep, dumping it down to Harris when the linebackers drop deep.

    The 49ers don’t rely on the read-option to move their offense, though they do have the QB to run it. Kaepernick is completely willing to throw it, and I am more concerned with his ability to run from the pocket on passing downs than I am with the read option.

    Kaepernick has a fixation with Michael Crabtree, who has kind of broken out ever since Smith was sent to the bench. If Tramon can cover and tackle Crabtree, the Packer defense will be fine.

    But the key is still the Packer offense. They have to move the ball and NOT turn it over. If the San Fran defense wins that battle, the Packers lose.

  6. mxz600

    Wouldnt it be nice to see Tramon cover someone? Maybe a tackle, and by tackle, i don’t mean giving a receiver a shoulder by the sideline. I think Tramon could do well in watching tape of Casey Hayward. But then again, With the recent draft of D backs and a draft coming up. I don’t see any justification in keeping Tramon and his salary around, he’s now more of a liability than an asset.

  7. Nostradumbass

    Den 26-17
    GB 21-20
    ATL 22-20
    NE 30-20

    3-1 ATS last week only because Mike Shanahan apparently shaves points along with shaving about 7 years off RG3s career.

  8. Lynn Fuckin' Dickey

    Packers vs 49ers, What to Watch For: The Packers D fucking the dog and then shitting in my mouth

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