Hey Packer Nation, snap out of it. What’s with the defeatist attitude? The notion that we need a bunch of turnovers to have a chance. That we ought to at least avoid a second rout. Forget about the first encounter, it was an aberration. The Packers are on the rise and are capable of defeating a team with such slight playoff experience and few big-play talents.
Let’s start here, as San Francisco is accurately known for its run-heavy offensive attack. Yes, they had the second best rushing yardage, averaging 144.1 per game; by comparison, the Packers came in at only 15th best, though the difference was only about 30 fewer rushing yards per game. On the other hand, the Niners ran 498 times, while the Packers had only 411 run attempts. The Packers rushing average of 4.4 yards per carry was nearly the same as the 49ers 4.6 average.
San Francisco is noted for having a “three-headed monster” at running back: Raheem Mostert, 137 carries, 772 yards, 8 TDs, 5.6 average; Tevin Coleman, 137 carries, 544 yards, 6 TDs, 4.0 average; and Matt Breida, 123 carries, 623 yards, 1 TD, 5.1 average.
The threesome had modest credentials coming into the league, and none possesses outstanding athletic traits – with the exception of Coleman’s 4.39 dash speed (2015 NFL Combine). Given this, much credit must go to the team’s offensive linemen, though none was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad.
In Saturday’s easy win against the Vikings, it was speedster Coleman who did the most damage, with 105 yards on 22 carries; Mostert had 58 in a dozen tries.
Kyle Shanahan doesn’t rely on his RBs for a lot of receptions. None of the three exceeded 21 catches on the year, and none totaled more than 180 yards through the air. The threesome’s combined receiving yardage is 247 less than what Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams produced through the air – advantage Packers if they will commit to deploying it.
Comments: Shanahan will favor one or the other depending on how he views the matchups with the opponent’s defense. In the first game against the Packers, Mostert had the most success (6 for 45), while Coleman had the most carries (11 for 39), and each had a touchdown. Shanahan likely thinks the Packers are weaker at run defense than pass defense – in which case we might again see, as Minnesota just did, the three 49ers’ RBs getting close to 50 carries.
Playing in all 16 games, Jimmy Garoppolo fell just short of 4,000 passing yards on the season; at twelfth most, he ranked one spot below Rodgers. He had 29 touchdown throws and 13 interceptions. His fine 102.0 passer rating was eighth best. He was sacked 36 times, the same number as Rodgers.
Though vastly overpaid, Garoppolo is capable. His body of work is surprisingly slim, however, for all the acclaim he gets: under 7,000 passing yards in a six-year career. The past year was the first time he’s started more than 5 games in a season. Even more to the point, , Jimmy G completed his first NFL postseason pass a few days ago against the Vikings. Not only that, his performance on that day was less than mediocre: 11 for 19, for 131 yards, with 1 TD and 1 interception – and only a 74.7 passer rating.
After the Seattle game, Packers fans should be relieved to know that Garoppolo has never been a running threat. This is a quarterback unskilled at evading pass rushers.
Comments: Jimmy G is inexperienced generally, and especially on a stage as big as this NFC championship game. Attention Smiths: he’s prone to throwing interceptions when pressured. In Week 12, Jimmy’s passer rating against Pettine’s guys was 145.8 – almost surely the best ever in his brief time as a starter. Don’t worry, the Packers had their meltdown in that first encounter, and it won’t happen again. In the first meeting – which has little relevance to the upcoming affair – Garoppolo burned Green Bay with 40+ yard completions to both Kittle and Samuel. Pettine’s guys can and must do much better against a QB who normally plays second fiddle to his running backs. I don’t know the guy well enough to be sure, but isn’t it fair to give him the cursed label of “game manager”?
The tough matchup here is tight end George Kittle, who had 85 catches in only 107 throws on the year, for 1,053 yards and five TDs. Though he’s a typical size, his 4.52 speed stands out for a tight end. Despite this being only his third season, he was recently named a First Team All Pro. I’d much rather see Raven Greene than Tramon Williams assigned to Kittle, though Greene probably won’t be physically ready to go.
The wide receivers are a competent group, though no one approaches the talents of Packers ace “Tae” Adams. Rookie Deebo Samuel, the 36th over pick back in March, had several long catches on his way to a 57-reception, 802-yard season. But he’s inexperienced, just like Seattle’s DK Metcalf, who was not a factor last weekend. Samuel’s 40-yard dash time is a manageable 4.48 seconds.
Emmanuel Sanders, in his first year with the Niners, has resurrected his career at age 32: He had 32 catches for 502 yards. We saw a lot of Matt Bourne on Saturday: during the regular season, he had 30 catches for 358 yards and five TDs.
Comments: As a team, the Niners had the thirteenth most robust passing yardage. Other than for Kittle, this is a competent, but hardly a fearsome, group: average WRs being thrown to by an average QB.
I’m inclined to disregard the 37-8 whipping the 49ers administered on our guys in Week 12. In that one, LaFleur’s team fell apart when faced with its second major adversity. They’ve learned from it, team leaders have stepped forward, Rodgers just delivered one of his better performances, and Green Bay hasn’t lost since. The team’s current six-game win streak demonstrates the rapid growth and maturity of this club, both defensively and offensively.
Though the San Fran defense days ago utterly dominated the Vikes, the offense was ho-hum: 308 total yards. The 186 yards on the ground sounds scary, but it took 47 runs (4.0 average) to do it. The Packers’ run defense is no longer the embarrassment it was at mid-season.
The Packers need to hold the 49ers offense to under its 29.9 regular season average – second best in the league. Difficult, but doable. If the Packers can keep George Kittle under some restraints, it doesn’t look to me as though there are any other nightmarish mismatches for the Packers D.
Green Bay’s destruction of the Vikings offense at their place on Week 16 is additional reason to believe the Pack’s defense is ready to take on a group of San Francisco’s caliber. Keeping the 49ers scoring below 30 points should give the Packers a 50/50 chance of pulling off the upset.
Kyle Shanahan called a masterful game in the previous encounter against the Packers, who were caught off guard despite having two weeks of prep time – I’m not sure why. The play calling differences stood out: the 49ers were using deception and fakery almost every play, while LaFleur too quickly conceded, and settled for merely trying to complete short passes, against a prevent defense perfectly happy to give them such plays.
While Shanahan has had three years to get his offensive schemes clicking, LaFleur’s offensive strategies are still under development. We’ll find out on Sunday just how fast a learner, and how good a teacher, our young coach is.
My next post will assess the Packers’ chances against the NFL’s eighth stingiest defense, points-wise, over the past regular season. By the way, Green Bay gave up only three more points over that span of 16 games.
I googled aberration….nowhere did it mention anything about the O line getting steamrolled all game.
When we speak about the running game, lets examine the big picture….
With all due respect Rob…You cannot say, the 49ers “only” gain 30 yards more a game. 30 yards is very substantial in the NFL. To illustrate, if the Packers 15th ranked running game, rushed for 30 yards less a game, that would rank them 30th. It’s substantial.
The comparison can’t stop there if you want the big picture…..
The 49er defense gives up 15 yards less per game than the Packers. So in essence, you have a 45 yard total differential in the running game. I’m going to call that substantial.
Keep in mind, everything isn’t roses either in the Packer running game. After Aaron Jones first rush of the game, to start the 1st quarter against Seattle, he had 20 rushes for 39 yards…a 1.95 average, and that was against Seattle defense which ranks 22nd in the league.
I’ll be going through this game getting my hands dirty with facts and my outlook on this game realistically. It may be brutal at times but it will be the unfiltered truth and i make no apologies for it.
ha ha ha, thank you for the laugh. I needed it this morning.
You are failing completely to recognize that GB strength of schedule since playing the 9ers was pathetic. Your arguing that because your defense was able to beat up on 4 terrible teams that you are going to be able to stand up to one of the most brilliant offensive minds in football? Don’t get me wrong, GB’s defense isn’t bad, but the 9ers are going to put up points. Even if you can get pressure, Shanahan is just going to use his zone blocking to catch your guys in the backfield and get big chunk yardage from the run game.
Furthermore, criticizing jimmy for his total yardage completely fails to recognize that the 9ers don’t have to win on his back. They don’t rely on the qb position because they don’t have to. What happens when they do? Then Jimmy steps up and has games like he did vs the saints. Don’t forget that the saints have a SOLID defense… 26 of his 35 passes for 349 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception.
BTW, im not sure you noticed yet but preventing kittle from getting receptions doesn’t mean taking him out of the game. He’s one of the best blockers in the NFL. When you don’t need to pass, the receiver core isn’t going to get great numbers, but don’t sleep on their talent.
Don’t get me wrong, The pack has every opportunity to win this game. I don’t expect the same thing we saw last week at all. However Bashing one of the best offenses that we have seen from the 49ers in a decade wont help your team win.
San Fran has no chance in this game. Garoppolo outplay Rodgers in a NFC title game? Ha. Not likely. Niners are treating this like a regular season game if you have been following their news. The Packers are treating it like a trip the Super Bowl is on the line. Big difference. Gonna be a great Sunday night for Packers fans.
I look forward to your bipolar posts on Sunday. Of course, you compare this team to the 95 Packers so I already know I can’t take your take seriously
The Packers will be putting in (Edgar Bennett voice) a very Super Bowlian performance two weeks early this Sunday.
Oh man, this article is providing so may lol moments today. What would I have done without it!?
Only idiots don’t respect their opponents, especially when they are better…
9ers fan, eh? (in Homer Simpson voice). Welcome, try not to be a total homer douchbag while you’re hear and we might be willing to discuss the merits of the game with you.
I wont be here long, don’t worry… ;)
So, what worries you about GB in this game?
Lol oh lonely boy, I’m sure you’ll be back next week as a Chief’s fan. Why don’t you go back to jerking off to your Captain Curt poster, that is if you didn’t rip it off your wall last week.
Might be a good call Yawa…JP could verify that is Lonely Boy based on IP addy.
In this day of run-oriented offenses, I’d add that defenses have begun over-playing the run game – which you can get away with when facing an average QB, but is risky if used against a guy like Rodgers. Against Mini-sota, the Niners focused on Dalvin Cook, and held him to 18 yards on 9 carries – that will probably be the game plan (again) against Aaron Jones too. I also neglected to mention fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who I didn’t really know. I believe the 4-time Pro Bowler was on the field for 70% of the offensive snaps against the Vikes. Whereas the Pack relies on super-talent AJ, the Niners rely on average RBs who carry out Shanahan’s great play calls with the help of superb run blocking. This explains how a team can run the ball 47 times without once gaining more than 11 yards. Pettine is going to have to insert personnel who are good-run-stoppers in the lineup on Sunday.
Good take, though i would add that the RB core isnt average for the 49ers. That argument relies on the fact that its a RB committee, however there are only so many touches to be handed out. Don’t forget about colemans past performances. Also don’t forget that Matt Breda is the fastest RB in the league this year. Don’t sleep on Mostert either… Individually each one of these guys could be the work horse of the team. A corpse that is 3rd in the league in yards.
Corpse? You might want to look up the spelling there. Just sayin.
I actually had all three of these backs on my FFL team this season, and you are correct they are more formidable as group than any of them are individually, and therefore so is the SF run offense. It’s part of what makes SF run game so hard to defend. I think it also speaks highly of the OL run blocking ability. That is definitely going to be a challenge for GB.
Yeah, 30 yards more per game is pretty significant, could easily translate to an extra 3-4 more points per game. In a league where the margin for error is so tight, an extra 30 yards per game could mean an extra drive or two being kept alive while keeping your defense off the field, an explosive run for a TD, or, conversely, an explosive TD run being taken off the field due to a stupid, needless penalty.
Not to mention eating clock, which the 49ers love to do with leads.
Rob, I would must rather see Sully on Kittle than Raven Greene or Williams. If you look at the week 12 game in the first half, the Packers had Sully in man coverage on Kittle at least four times on 3rd downs. Sully was up in Kittle’s face and had very good coverage on Kittle each time. Sully did not get enough snaps in that game! All of Kittle long pass plays came with no one over the top of Kittle jamming him at the line, allowing Kittle a free release into poor zone coverage. I believe Sully was on the bench on all those plays as they were first or second downs.
In the earlier game Kittle was six for six for 129 yards – he seems to rely on speed and determination to get open, as opposed to great route-running. 61 of those yards came when no one picked him up on a beautiful fake run, bootleg left, and cross-field throw to the right. The Pack seemed to be using mostly zone coverage, with either King (twice), Martinez (twice), Amos, and even Za’Darius being the closest defender. Maybe it’s time to isolate a DB on him tull time? Choices: Tramon, Sullivan, Greene (if available), Amos, Campbell? Sully quietly had 23 snaps (36%) against the Hawks, and Pettine has been increasing his usage as the year has progressed. Against the Vikes, however, Kittle only got 16 yards in five targets – I wonder how they defensed him.
The Vikings jammed Kittle with the DEs and then had Harrison Smith or Kendricks in coverage. Not every play, but the majority of the time. The other reason for Kittle’s low numbers is the 49ers determined they would run a lot as the game went on. Mainly because they could run on the Vikings, and because Shanahan was protecting Jimmy, and the lead after some of his bad throws and Int.
I still say if you are going to put a DB over Kittle when Kittle flexes out it needs to be Sully. When Kittle lines up on the line you need a OLB or DE to jam Kittle at the line then have immediate man coverage preferably Sully. Jimmy will look away.
Better with Sullivan vs Tramon. Maybe Savage plays some slot with Tramon single-high to match up speed? Gary needs to see the field more. You have to utilize his speed and gap movement as a three tech over Lancaster. Pettine has his Dime scheme down with his secondary healthy all year. Maybe Campbell checks Kittle as part of the dbl team. I believe Deebo has supplanted Sanders as the #2 guy for Santa Clara. Best WR out of S Carolina since Sterling Sharpe. Doubt Geene sees the field, but they have a spot open on the 53, might as well activated him.
I’m getting damn tired about hearing about Kittle….he’s this, he loves to run block, he’s that, blah blah blah.
Well…the Packers have their own weapon who is flying under the radar. After getting rid of old,slow,dead weight Jordy Nelson, the Packers rose up in Free Agency and landed Jimmy Graham. It’s about time that move and Jimmy, get the respect they deserve.
As much as i appreciate Rob (totalpackers MVP), trying to shine the best light on this game is a hard sell, especially when you have to cherry pick after they bent your team over and dry humped them the whole game weeks ago. Aside from the Packers O line vs the 49ers front seven, the most important factor to me in this game will be playcalling/scheming, as it was in the first game. That’s not a rip on LeFleur, not many students beat the mentor in the rookie year. But at least now, LeFleur has a baseline to go off of.
Right. One thing not being brought up is….. Richard Sherman still plays corner for the 49ers and will likely follow Adams just about everywhere on the field, if they are smart. The Packers are going to have to figure to get the other guys in the pass game involved (the running backs????)
If Sherman trails, LaFleur’s scheme will rub him off. He usually stays in his quarter.
Maybe. Idk, if Adams starts beating them, and a big third down comes up, I would think they would put Sherman on him regardless unless he is lined up in the slot.
They have to anticipate this possibility. How is Lazard this week? That shot to the back of the leg he took last week while run blocking looked pretty bad. He returned to the game but that stuff tends to really react in the next several days. Lazard could have a big game if he’s healthy.
One thing you can do against Sherman is run a skinny post. You need time for the route to develop so you may have to max protect.
In the week 12 game Sherman was beat twice on the deep skinny. Once by Lazard who was wide open (QB #1 threw deep left to Adams) and once to MVS who couldn’t get his feet down in the end zone.
The 49ers tend to NOT shade their single safety help to Sherman’s side. When Adams lined up to the left away from Sherman the 49ers would lean their safety more in Adams direction opening up the deep middle depending on the underneath route concepts.
Yeah, I almost wonder if they will play more quarters than three deep in passing situations. I am sure a lot of that will depend on the Packers run success
I agree, the biggest issue here is that the 49ers know everything LaFleur/Pettine are going to try and run. In addition, the 49ers offense won’t be pedestrian against the Packers defense as their strengths are the Packers weaknesses. The Packers have had difficulty stopping the run and much difficulty stopping a good tight end.
A very wise man told me something decades ago that has served me well from the day i heard it, to today
When sports gambling….you wager your money not based if your going to the game, not if the game is on tv, not based on your heart. You base a wager deciphering what game you have the least chance of losing.
I’ve been thinking about that this week. I don’t think I would bet either side of the number in this game. If I had to bet a game this weekend I would take KC and lay the points there. The Tennessee fairy tale is about to end.
So…lets take an honest look at this, lets have some participation please, as 27 comments so far is a bit weak for the game deciding the right to a Super Bowl appearance.
Most knowledgeable football fans will concede the 49ers have the advantage being at home. So the question i’m posing is…… what area(s) of the Packer team, do they have the edge over the 49ers team?
Be heard…don’t be afraid.
Probably a slight edge at quarterback. Pass rush is nearly even, MAYBE a slight edge to the Packers (they finished 1 and 2 in the NFL in QB pressures this year). Offensive line pass blocking.
Now for the 49ers advantages. Special teams, running backs, run blocking, coaching, linebackers, pass defense, run defense, tight end, wide receivers probably.
How good would Emanuel Sanders be as our #2 WR. SF got him for a 5th round pick! ugh.
^^Give this man a prize!!!!^^
That was my thought when the 49ers traded for him. Also the same day i figured Gute was napping in his office.
No, it was a third AND fourth round pick for Sanders plus a fifth round pick. Two mid round picks for only part of a season. The 49ers may have cap issues next season so they are going all in this season. They may be unlikely to resign him in the offseason. The Packers may be able to pick him up for no draft choices.
Deepsky, the trade was the 49ers sent a third and fourth to the Broncos. In exchange the 49ers received Sanders and the Broncos 5th round pick.
With the 49ers drafting low in the fourth and the Broncos drafting high in the fifth Those two picks closely equal with the Broncos having a slight advantage.
To me Sanders was had for a 3rd round pick, plus a little extra in the 4th and 5th round exchange of picks.
I should add the above comment is also for Kzoo.
I wouldn’t do that trade for a 32 year old receiver, but that’s just me. Especially in this draft class. More on that once the season is officially over
The 49ers also had to pay approximately 6 million to Sanders for half the season. I wonder if that made a difference to Gutekunst, or maybe it was just keeping the team chemistry? However, what is 6 million for half a season if your paying Jimmy over 10? Except a 3rd round pick and 6 million off of next years draft and salary cap. At least you have a potential big play weapon and first down producer in Sanders.
I wouldn’t do that. Well, of course I wouldn’t have kept Jimmy Graham around either.
That is definitely a higher price, my mistake, misread the info. Just checked his numbers since the trade. Monster game v New Orleans, but otherwise not stellar.
4th or 5th pick…whats the difference…where is our 4th round pick from 2018? Sanders is a proven asset and Kzoo was 100% correct
I’d feel a hell of a lot better going into this game with Sanders and the 9ers not having him. A 3rd round pick under Gutes watch?…..do it in a heartbeat. Hell, we spent a #12 pick on a back up.
Kazoo, if the Packers got him, he’s a legit #2 target, a proven target. I’d also assume he’d have more production under Rodgers than he’s had with the niners. Just sayin
If we’re going with the Packers pass rush being better, then i’m giving the 49er O line the edge. simply because i watched the game between these two a couple months ago. but i’ll say…it’s close.
Thinking about how the Packers compare to the 49ers across position groups, and I got to thinking about corners. I have to say the most disappointing Packer in 2019 was easily Jaire Alexander. Like, he was good, above average. But he didn’t turn into this all pro shutdown guy we were hoping for after his first season. If anything, it feels like he slightly regressed? Anyone feel similarly?
He’s been ok. Not great. Also seems to be wearing down as the year has gone on. Sophomore slump? Looking for a leap from him next year?
This is clearly not the first time a corners play regressed from his rookie season. Although he isn’t as bad as the previous ones. It should also be noted that a big part of the NFL is film watching, teams, coaches, players, are constantly watching film looking for a weak spot to take advantage of a team’s playcalling….player tendencies,etc..
I have to agree. Not looking anything up, the eye test tells me he seemed to play tighter last season. There may be reasons like injury but….still. Not sure if PFF agree’s with me or not.
On another note, Mike McCarthy will not be calling plays in Dallas. So much for never relinquishing playcalling duties again
Wow…i wonder if that was a directive from Jones.
Well…happy for him i guess, trying something new, being a head coach.
Well, this begs the question, what exactly does McCarthy bring to the table as a head coach? Is he a good game manager? A good motivator? Does be bring the most out of his players? Like, I am sort of confused.
Kato…i always wanted him to give up the play calling and get a pulse on his team and get involved in the defense and special teams instead of being buried looking into his Dennys menu of plays. So i don’t know how good of a head coach he’ll be, i only know him as an offensive coordinator.
…and Ted’s spokesperson.
How can you write an article “analyzing” a team’s offense when you admit to not knowing much about their QB. If JG (8.4 YPA, 102 passer rating) is a game manager, what would that make AR? (7.0 YPA, 95.4 passer rating)?
And you say Coleman is the 49ers’ only athletic RB because of his fast 40 time? Well, he’s the slowest of the Niners’ three running backs (whoops).
I could go on and on about each section of your article.
Do a little bit of research before you write next time.
Thanks for the comments. I’ve advised TP readers many times that I’m a Packers fanatic, not an expert re all 32 NFL teams. I rarely even watch non-Packers games, and I never termed this post as an “analysis.” The whole idea of a blog is conversation – mistakes and memory failings are common, and commonly corrected by those such as yourself. As to RB speeds, further research tells me Coleman’s NFL Combine dash time was what I stated, 4.39. Breida and Mostert apparently weren’t invited to an NFL Combine. For Breida, perhaps you are going by a 4.38 time reported from a “Philadelphia Eagles Pro Day.” That might be accurate, might not. I see that Mostert was a Big 10 track man, and has been variously reported as doing a 4.32 and 4.34 40-yard dash. So I’ll grant you all three are fast, and the Packers will have a challenge in containing them. On the other hand, even in Week 12, the only 49ers RB with a run of over 15 yards was one Jeff Wilson, who reeled off a 25-yard run. He’s another undrafted, low-credentialed, collegiate RB – he attended an NFL Combine, but passed on the dash and agility tests. Credit the 49ers with some good under-the-radar RB acquisitions, but my impression remains they are workman-like. I prefer Aaron Jones.