6

September

Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (49ers)

Packers periscope - Eyeing the Enemy

Packers periscope – Eyeing the Enemy

Welcome to the 2013 NFL season.

The Green Bay Packers open their schedule the same way they closed out last season—with a trip to San Francisco to face the 49ers.  While it is only Week 1, Packers fans should get a pretty good handle on what the 2013 version of their team looks like as they face off against the defending NFC champions and a team many predict will return to and perhaps even win the Super Bowl.

When we last met….

Both the Packers and their fans need little reminding of their last encounter with the 49ers.

Last January, Green Bay traveled to San Francisco to face the 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoffs and ended up being sent home in one of the most embarrassing playoff defeats in franchise history. 49ers Colin Kaepernick ran for 181 yards and two touchdowns in addition to two touchdown passes and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense just couldn’t keep up.

San Francisco brilliantly executed the read option against a Green Bay defense that was woefully unprepared for it.  Charles Woodson said after the game he didn’t realize how fast Kaepernick was.  If that doesn’t show lack of preparation, who knows what does?

The defeat shell shocked the Packers so bad that Mike McCarthy sent his entire defensive coaching staff to Texas A&M to study the read option and how to stop it.  The Packers’ two backup quarterbacks also happen to have been on the 49ers’ roster at some point this year.

Sounds like Green Bay wants this one pretty badly.

What they’re good at

As you can tell above, the read option offense but there is more to the 49ers attack than just that.

Kaepernick has both quick feet and a strong arm.  Everyone focuses on what he can do outside the pocket but he is also underrated in what he can do in the pocket.  He is lethal as a runner but his arm is still very strong and can make his throws from inside the pocket as well. With as much emphasis the Packers have made on stopping the read option, the 49ers could use a more traditional attack and still get results.

Until proven otherwise, Kaepernick is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league for a long time.  His goal this year is to prove last year was not a fluke now that teams have a much bigger sample of videotape on him.

Don’t forget their stout running game outside of their quarterback either.  Frank Gore had yet another 1,000 yard season last year but has been lost in all the hoopla over Kaepernick.  He is still a very stout running back and can’t be ignored either.

They also have a dominant tight end in Vernon Davis. Davis has finally realized his enormous potential under coach Jim Harbaugh and makes a great option for Kaepernick in the passing game thanks to the lack of a deep receiving corps.

Defensively, the 49ers run a similar 3-4 scheme to the Packers. Justin Smith anchors a strong defensive line that will give Packers rookie Eddie Lacy all he can handle. Smith didn’t do much against Green Bay in the playoffs against T.J. Lang, but Smith had a big brace on thanks to a biceps injury. Thanks to the reshuffled Green Bay line, Smith this time will face rookie David Bakhtiari.

Good luck, rook.

The 49ers also have three Pro Bowl linebackers in Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith.  Willis is still one of the best linebackers in the game, and Bowman is the player on the rise. Bowman even supplanted Willis in the 49ers’ dime defense last year.  This is a fast and aggressive bunch that has every intent on owning the middle of the field.

What they’re not good at

The 49ers came within a whisker of winning Super Bowl XLVII so they’re one of the most talented teams in the league, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have flaws.

They may have a fast quarterback, but their receivers are lacking a bit in the pure speed department.  With the loss of Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles as well as Mario Manningham, the big target of the 49ers passing attack is Anquan Boldin.  He played well in the playoffs last year for the Ravens and is a red zone nightmare, but he won’t create separation down the field.  The Packers have a young and fast secondary, so this could be a favorable matchup for Green Bay.

Aside from Boldin, there isn’t much there for the 49ers at receiver. Rookie Quinton Patton could be a solid target, but he’s still a rookie.

The 49ers also lost some talent in the secondary.  Rookie Eric Reid replaces the departed Dashon Goldson.  Reid ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and is a speedier player than Goldson, but he’s still inexperienced and who knows if the pro game has slowed down enough for him.

Nnmadi Asomugha also comes over from the Eagles as a cornerback. He was a feared player when he was in Oakland but was a big disappoint in Philadelphia and the jury is out as to whether he can regain his dominant form in San Francisco.

The Packers should see some favorable matchups with this secondary.

Chances of a Packers victory

Any team can win on any given Sunday.  That said, the Packers get arguably their toughest came right out of the gate.  There is a big revenge factor for Green Bay as the 49ers beat them twice last season, especially in the playoff game where the defense was tossed around like a rag doll.

The Packers were not too long ago held up as the model on how to build a franchise but that title has since been taken by the 49ers.  If Green Bay wants to send a message to the rest of the league, this is the game to do it.  If they can’t get up for this game, then there should be some concern as to what the rest of 2013 will hold.

If the Packers can get Lacy going against the 49ers defensive line, Rodgers can definitely keep up with Kaepernick. Rodgers has almost been forgotten with all the hype surrounding the 49ers quarterback and everyone knows how he plays with a chip on his shoulder.

The defense should be much more prepared for the read option, which is why San Francisco might go with a more traditional attack.  Can the Packers keep up with Kaepernick’s feet? The answer to that question probably will determine if the Packers open 2013 with a win or with a loss.

Prediction: Packers 27, 49ers 24

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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19 Responses to “Packers Periscope: Eyeing the Enemy (49ers)”

  1. jay says:

    I wish I agreed. If the Packers win, I will consider it an upset. That requires me thinking that the 49ers are likely to win. 27-17 49ers. I’ll be happy if I’m wrong. Go Pack Go.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. JH9 says:

    I think the Packers defense will surprise some people. I think they’ll be good enough to keep the score close. However, I expect our o’line to have difficulty opening up enough running lanes for Lacy to be a factor. I also expect AR won’t have a great deal of time to pass. 24-17 49ers. And like Jay says, I’ll be much happier if I’m wrong and the Packers win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  3. Chad Lundberg says:

    Sorry, off subject but I’m sure someone here knows so yeah. Does anyone know how I can listen to the game through android? Any radio apps or something like that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      tunein radio app – then search for WTMJ. Also, WTMJ is streaming the radio broadcasts this year, so you could also just browse to their web site and listen that way.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. packett says:

    Packers will need some lucky breaks go their way, and be opportunistic. They have to take some chances, be unpredictable. They better figure on Harbaugh throwing in some formations to trick Tolzien so Tolzien thinks he is seeing an audible. Manning did that last night, and tricked Dumervil. So, if GB outsmarts, and anticipates harbaugh tricks..they’ll win. If they just line up and run on first down. GB loses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Germ Ike Al says:

    Im still not convinced that Kaep will be able to produce for 16 games the way he did for half a season last year. I think he will regress this year and make some young mistakes. Packers D excels at forcing turnovers and i could see 2 INTs and maybe a fumble by “the best quarterback in NFL history” this sunday. Still think the game will be close though

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • John Zoul says:

      The Vegas line opened with San Fran favored by 5…it has since dropped to 4.5…My thoughts: Improved defensive line, LB’s, and secondary…They are prepared for the ‘read option’…Offensive line has a lot to prove and has been sub-par since the retirement of Clifton and Tauscher….Top-rated QB in Rodgers…Huge potential of stud-RB Lacey…Will Finley finally reach his potential in contract year or continue to drop passes at key moments…Question marks on ST w/Crosby the worst-rated kicker in the NFL in 2012 and J. Ross, talented, fast, with moves, but, can he hold onto the ball and he has shown next to nothing against first-level defenses at WR…Lastly, will Banjo turn-into a starter and become the next Nick Collins? Quite a few question marks, the main one being the Offensive Line. EDS, Lang, Barclay, and Bakhtiari have to step-up to the plate and prevent penetration and hits on Rodgers…If they can do that the Packers will win the game…If they can’t, it will be a ‘Bad Day at Black Rock’…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Jersey Al Jersey Al says:

      Thumbs up for the screen name alone…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Turophile says:

    The Packers have spent a great deal of coaching time, training time and some draft picks earlier this year, to counter the 49ers. Picks like Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin were brought in to help strengthen the team in key areas. Tretter was also acquired, though still out on a broken ankle. In my opinion, the aim was for him to be the next Packers center.

    I will (of course) be very happy to see the Packers win. I would still be ok with a tight game that is a narrow loss. The big no-no is if the Packers look little better than the playoff game last year.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Turophile says:

    Also worth noting is that the regular season is a marathon. Postseason doesn’t get decided in week one, so it is easy to overstate the importance of the 49ers match. Its a good indicator of where each team is now…..but that may change radically at the end of the season.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Wkupackfan says:

    There is not enough data yet to know whether Kaepernick can consistently read defenses and make consistent plays from the pocket. The Packers will mostly likely play a lot of pocket contain and force SF to try and beat them down the field. It would be nice to be able to play man since SF’s receivers will have difficulty getting separation. However, we all know that man is susceptible to Kaep’s scrambles and the Pack probably doesn’t want Hyde (regardless of how well he’s played thus far) exposed much in man coverage.

    SF’s rushing attack is very sophisticated and Harbaugh may return to his roots and run the ball with Gore a lot this game.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Stroh says:

      I wouldn’t call SF run game sophisticated. Basic power run game… Try to run over and thru you, nothing fancy or sophisticated. The read option might be considered a little sophisticated, if you want, but its a straight up power run scheme for the RB and OL.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Dobber says:

      The Niners had success running Gore against the Packers a year ago, and that’s their bread-and-butter, so there’s no reason to think they’re going to change their stripes now.

      Hyde will probably play in Hayward’s spot as slot corner. I think he’ll do well there.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. GBPDAN says:

    The Pack needs to show that they can hang with the 9ers. They need to win or at least look tuff in a close loss. Some say its the first game of a long season and that the first game doesn’t mean much in the long run. I disagree with this. Last year the Packers were manhandled the first game of the year against the Forty Niners. When the Packers played the Forty Niners again in the playoffs, all I could think about was how the Packers were manhandled on opening day. As much as I wanted to believe the Packers we’re going to win the playoff game against the Niners, I couldn’t help but to think how mismatched they were in game 1. This proved to be true as they were manhandled again in the playoffs. It looks it looks like Brad Jones and Burnett are not going to play in this game, which is a disappointment, as the Packers need all the help they can get. I do like our front seven better than last year’s version. I like the fact that Perry is healthy and that Neal will be played standing up at times during the game. I hope this frees uo CM3. I think this will be a close game, at least I hope so. I will be the happiest man on the planet if the Packers win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. James Jeffers says:

    Everyone seems to forget that we were tied 24-24 in that playoff game until the long run by Kap. in the 3rd quarter broke our spirit. Walden failed to contain on that play and is probably the reason he went to Indy. We hung with them despite our O-line and never seeing the read-option before, not to mention the QB. I’m not sold their QB is all that accurate. He reminds me of Mike Vick, athletic but not a great pocket passer. Once he gets hit on the option plays he will lose his advantage. We know what he can do this year, and we’ve taken measures to stop him. We’ll see if we have the scheme and personnel to get it done tomorrow. GO PACK!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • Dobber says:

      I disagree. Kaepernick made some nice throws over the course of the season, with touch and with zing, into tight spots. He’s not a bad passer.

      For all his running, Kaepernick never seems to get hit hard, though. That’s a real talent…Moss had it, too. I think forcing him to stand-in and throw will expose him to more of a beating than trying to hit him on the run.

      And, BTW, all this talk about hitting Kaepernick isn’t going to lead to SF headhunting ARod, do you think?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Nick Perry says:

      Thank you!!! McCarthy panicked and totally got away from his game plan. Jones, Jolly, Perry, and a year wiser Daniels will all help this defense. Waldon was a pass rusher, and a very average pass rusher at that. He never was very good against the run and couldn’t hold up against bigger O-Lines. Perry is much stronger than Waldon and can set the edge. Handle the option and COVER the middle of the field. The 49ers gave up a ton of yardage to teams towards the end of the season and in the playoffs. It would be nice to see the older style west coast offense instead of 50 yard bombs to James Jones on 3rd and 1. I mean damn, would it hurt to call a screen sometime McCarthy? I think the Packers win by 6 and its not a damn upset. It’s Aaron Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson, Jones, and Finley being to much for the 49ers. If Flacco, Torry Smith, and Anquan Bolden can throw for over 300 yards so can Rodgers and the Packers! Go Pack Go!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. I guess you could say we have a fighting chance. We sure didn’t tip our hand in the preseason. are we ever going to run the ball decent??

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