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January

Packers Periscope: Wild Card vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Past: Do we really need to remind ourselves of the past?  Sometimes it seems like certainly match-ups become one sided rivalries; in the 1990′s the Packers seemed never able to beat the Dallas Cowboys and recently it’s seemed like the Packers have always gotten better of the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears but the team that seems to give the Aaron Rodgers Packers the most problems is the Jim Harbaugh lead San Francisco 49ers.  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick stole the show in their last playoff meeting, setting a new record for yards on the ground for a quarterback and added 263 yards in the air and two touchdowns.  On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers just couldn’t get anything going against the stout 49ers defense and was stymied into a 1 dimensional passing attack.

The Packers drew the unfortunate luck of having to see their rivals right out of the gate this season with similar results. Again Aaron Rodgers couldn’t get much going against the defense, the running game lead by two rookies just wasn’t ready and the defense fell apart, this time only through the passing game as Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns and made aging receiver Anquan Boldin look like the second coming of Jerry Rice.

Since then the Packers have mostly been licking their wounds quietly with bigger issues to fry such as replacing Rodgers for 8 games while his shoulder blade recovered, or having to find a new defensive line and linebacking core as players shuffled in due to injuries.  Getting to the playoffs was essentially a pipe dream until week 17 (the Packers at the lowest had a 6% shot at getting into the playoffs), when they secured their playoff berth with a miracle 4th down touchdown from Rodgers to Randall Cobb, who was also coming back from a horrific bone break of his own.  While neither the Packers nor the Bears were really expected to fare all that well in the playoffs, getting in is an accomplishment on its own, especially considering the wretched season they had to endure just to get to this point.

The Present: The Packers get their 3rd shot at breaking the 49ers and this time they might have a legitimately different strategy.  The 49ers have never had to deal with a balanced Packers offense that is willing and capable of running the ball; during their week 1 matchup, rookie Eddie Lacy had his rookie mistakes and the Packers’ offensive line was still unsure of how this whole running game thing was supposed to work.  Well if there is any silver lining to Rodgers breaking his collar bone, its that the whole offense was forced to start running the ball as a means of matriculating the ball down the field instead of just adding diversity to the offensive game plan and that is something that the 49ers haven’t seen yet.

How the 49ers ultimately decide to play Eddie Lacy will largely determine the outcome of the game.  If the 49ers can stop the running game early and force Rodgers and his receivers to throw the ball, the 49ers will likely win; not only has it worked for them in the past but Rodgers will be even more unwilling to take a big hit with his healing collar bone and thus will likely not be extending plays for as long as he normally would.  However if the Packers can force the 49ers to respect both the run and the pass, it’s likely that the 49ers defense will have a long night as Rodgers can dissect them with both his arm and his mind.

For the 49ers offense, they’ve shown a lot of their cards to the Packers with the read-option, the spread offense as well as the traditional ground and pound but luckily for them the Packers haven’t been able to stop everything all in the same game.  Perhaps most dangerous is how Colin Kaepernick fares, if he’s given time and a pocket, he’ll dissect an already weak defensive secondary.  If they try to contain him, he’s a dangerous runner (just ask Erik Walden).  Perhaps the only strategy that the Packers haven’t tried on Kaepernick is to confuse him; while Kapernick has played like a veteran, really this is basically his second season and he still hasn’t seen everything the NFL defense can throw at him.  A heavy dose of Dom Capers magic featuring corner back blitzes, strange formations and amoeba defenses might be the best option for a defense that has taken a steady tumble since the beginning of the season.

The Future: Typically this section is for offseason matters like the salary cap, free agency and the draft, but since this is the playoffs it seems wise to talk about playoff scenarios.  Whoever wins this matchup will play either the Carolina Panthers or the Seattle Seahawks, who have the 1st and 2nd seeds in the NFC.  The determining factor will be the winner of the Philadelphia-New Orleans game; if Philadelphia wins then they will play the Carolina Panthers while the winner of the Packers game will play the Seattle Seahawks while if the New Orleans Saints wins then they get the first crack at beating the Seahawks while the winner of the Packers game will face Carolina.  Packers fans should be rooting for the Saints this weekend as the Seahawks, by virtue of being the 1st seed in the NFC, will have the benefit of playing all their playoff games at home.

One possible distraction that the 49ers might have is that black monday claimed a total of 6 head coaching positions and several teams are interested in the 49ers coordinators, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has had interviews in the past and apparently really wants the Detroit Lions job while defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is another hot name that was rumored to have been a coaching candidate for several teams last year.  While the 49ers will likely bar any interviews with their coordinators while they are in the playoffs, fans and the media a like have speculated on the distraction that something like this will cause.

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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35 Responses to “Packers Periscope: Wild Card vs. San Francisco 49ers”

  1. Dave D says:

    Good article. I say blitz, blitz and blitz some more. Rather see a quick score than get gauged all the way down the field in a time consuming drive.

    If Packers D gets 3 plus turnovers, then Packers have a chance. Anything less and the 49′s put up 40 on the board and ball game over.

    Please, can at least one Packer defender come up big for a change?

    Goh Pack Goh

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    • daves at it again.philly plays on Saturday nite dave.no injuries over there.maybe you can go to their roasted bird site and make your expert negative opinions there.your birds will show how great they are losing by 14….eagles are the biggest frauds in the playoffs….billy here is telling you the packers are a lock and your paying for my super bowl trip..cant wait….PS..can we ban dave d,cow turd 42,and big t…lets vote

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    • Hank Scorpio says:

      40 points from a Cali team in subzero temps would be quite a feat. I wouldn’t exactly be betting the “over” in this one.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • Dobber says:

        I agree on two matters:
        One, I want to see the Packers in Kaep’s face all night. Run blitz on early downs, try to force 3rd and longs where conversion percentages–even given the Packers coverage lapses–drop dramatically.
        Two, I don’t see 40 points coming from either team in this one.
        Three, HIT SOMEBODY! Make a statement early. Pound somebody and let the cold settle in while the 9ers are trying to figure out just what the f#@k is happening.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  2. Nick Perry says:

    I was listening to XM-Radio, the NFL Channel on the way home from work yesterday. That puke Jim “Mills” Miller was on talking about if the 49ers would be playing the Seahawks or Carolina, depending what the Saints do in Philly.
    Now I know “Mills” is a ex-Bears QB, one that didn’t play much at that. His hatred for the Packers comes across loud and clear everytime he opens his Bears loving mouth. But it seems that Pat Kirwin and Miller don’t give the Packers a chance, and the weather won’t be a factor at all.

    As someone who grew up in Wisconsin and later Minneapolis, then moved to California 27 years ago, I can tell you without a doubt weather will be a factor. I freeze my butt off when the temp dips below 35 on winter nights now. No one can say that weather won’t be a issue, not even Green Bay. Temps below zero is cold no matter where you’re from, but because the Packers players are used to it, live in it, they can adjust better to it.
    All summer long in TC we heard McCarthy talk about working on creating fumbles, tackling, fundamentals. Well MM, the time is now to put that work to the test. Put a hat on the ball every tackle your players make, wrap them up and tackle and quit this grabbing around the shoulders. As Vince would say, “Everybodys grabbing out there, grab, grab, grab”. If ever the Packers had a advantage over the 49ers, it’s Sunday in the cold.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

    • Dobber says:

      Having grown up in WI, then lived in Macon, GA, for 7 years, and now in MI, the cold is an issue. These guys are mostly born and bred in CA, TX, FL, etc., and not north of the Mason-Dixon line. Very few will tell you they like the cold. It impacts all of them…so in that sense, I can see where pundits wouldn’t see it as being that much of an issue.

      I AM encouraged that MM has the good sense to get his players out in the cold to practice this week.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

        Arguably thus is the same as the Packers; it’s not like most of players live in Wisconsin any more than they have to and most are again from powerhouse college programs in the south and west coast. Sure you can argue that they have more experience, but really it’s not as much as people assume, the Packers practice a lot indoors as well

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      • TC026 says:

        Someone born and raised in Wisconsin (now I live in Chile).
        You damn right it matters.
        The Niners are hating life right now and the PeckerHeads are salivating.
        Home Field advantage Baby.
        It will not be easy, but this one is in the bag. Bye Bye Niners.
        I am glad I don’t have to play in that shit.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Who really cares? The packers were not predicted to win anything in 2010 and look what they did. At this point what seed a team gets has very little correlation to winning the Super Bowl; basically if your team gets in you have a shot to win it all

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Razer says:

    I expect the Packers to win this Sunday but I can point to NO facet of the game that we are better than the 49ers. They are better in the trenches, at linebacker, at virtually all of the key areas. One might argue that Kapernicous has beat us the last three times, out-matching our biggest strength.

    So how can this injury riddled band of low draft choices and youth match a well-oiled machine? We have shown a strength and resilience that is championship worthy. We have staying in the race even when our big horse was out of the race. We will face a brutally cold day and it will test the resolve of a team. I believe that we have that resolve. Our defense doesn’t need to be spectacular, it just needs to be steady. Our offense needs to be monster. Aaron Rodgers and the O-line need to be at their best. Game over.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

    • Cow42 says:

      Did we actually “stay in the race” or did all the other runners handicap themselves by crapping in their own pants??

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes says:

      Rodgers is a better quarterback than Kaepernick, only Rodgers has to deal with the 49ers defense while Kaepernick doesn’t. Kaepernick against the Seahawks is a good comparison to what Rodgers will face tomorrow

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      • Dobber says:

        STronger winds could really handicap the Packers…moreso than the 9ers.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Bedroske says:

    They talk about how the football is like a rock. I’m excited to see Eddie Lacy hit a freezing LB/DB and see how they take the hit. If the football is like a rock, what does that make Eddie? Keep pounding Lacy! I want to see how they feel in the 4th quarter taking him on. OL…one job…keep the DL off of Lacy. Give our D a chance to be fresh.

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    • Bedroske says:

      OK…OL…keep ‘em off of Rodgers too.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

    • Nick Perry says:

      Excellent point. MM can’t get frustrated if he’s not having success right away. He’s done a good job of sticking to the uh run more less this year. Last year he abandened the run in the 2nd half even though Harris had gained more yards than Gore in 1st half. Patience Mike, Eddie will get the yards if you stick with it. You have to love Starks efforts lately as well. He’s running hard every carry.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Dobber says:

        Gore is a compactly-built, physical runner, but not of the same style as Lacy. If the Packers can get a lead early and utilize both runners with some success, I like their chances.

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        • Stroh says:

          Gore is very similar to Ahman Green in style, but he doesn’t have Ahman’s speed to take it the distance on any play.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • Dobber says:

      If ever there was a time that you’d want the ball first, Sunday would be it. I’d certainly want to put the ball in the hands of ARod and have the O put together a drive to build momentum and body heat while SF’s O (and OL) tighten up on the sideline.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. Savage57 says:

    Going to be interesting…

    Pack’s #3 ranked Offense going against the Niner’s #5 ranked Defense.

    Niner’s #24 ranked Offense going against the Pack’s #25 ranked Defense.

    Strength against strength and weakness against weakness.

    Go rip their hearts out boys.

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  6. Big O says:

    Ok Dom now it’s time to bring out that big surprise for us the fan, your going to have to use what you have for players and turn them into a bunch of crazzed dogs, Harbaugh and his fair weather boys won’t know what hit them, and it would make a very good start to the new year!!! Go Pack!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Jerry says:

    Interesting, my fav Sports book in Vegas has the 49ers 2 1/2 over the Packers. Last week the 49ers built a 17-0 lead over the Cardinals but the Cards came back and the 49ers had to go to overtime to beat them. The 49ers gave up close to 400yards total offense. Are the Arizona Cardinals that good? Is Carson Palmer and Larry Fitz an elite combo? If you listen to the so called experts on the NFL network (Comedy Central) the Packers don’t have a chance in hell of beating the mighty 49er’s. Shouldn’t the spread be larger? Can’t wait to see what happens, could be very interesting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. Bearmeat Bearmeat says:

    Thomas makes a great point. If the 9ers can stop Lacy/Starks from hurting them with their front 7 we have NO chance.

    Just read a piece on JS about the youth on the defensive side of the ball and Capers inability to quickly teach the communication to them. We are going to give up chunks of yards in this game. (Really any game)

    The only chance we have is if we can make them respect the run and play keep away – THEN once they do pop them in the mouth over the top.

    SF – 31
    GB – 21

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    • Dobber says:

      “The only chance we have is if we can make them respect the run and play keep away – THEN once they do pop them in the mouth over the top.”

      Where is the 9er D weakest? On the back end. Given the Packer tendencies and ability to move the football on the ground, SF will have to do more than token defense against the run. Even the best front 7s will give up yards against the run if the offense is patient. Hopefully that creates opportunities downfield…if anyone can stand to catch the ball on a day like Sunday.

      I think your score is about right.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Big T says:

    I love the fact that we are underdogs, that always bodes well for us. Just need to punch them in the mouth even harder. Hairbaul and Kaperdink are going down.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  10. ktownpackfan says:

    I’m relieved to hear that we’re practicing outside, especially since the 9ers came to town yesterday to “get used to playing in the cold.” I like that it’s going to get warmer for the next couple days. :-) That won’t allow SF much time to acclimate and we need every advantage. And I agree with Big T that being the underdog usually motivates us. Go Pack!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. James David says:

    The public is backing San Francisco while the “sharps” are backing Green Bay. This tells me that Green Bay should be favored. I believe that Green Bay can score enough points to win this game. A very late field goal and/or possession of the football should do it. I would not bet the under/over in this game. GB by four points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • haynes84 says:

      I feel the Packers Defense will show up big for the Packers. They have a big reason to and have to show their reason.The Packers offense and defense of lines have to dig in and push the 49ners the way they need and want to (all game long). Then of course their is A.Rogers, receiving and running core that will keep the Packer fans cheeringand warm. My perdiction “The Fans Go Wild” in Greenbay!!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. White92 White92 says:

    The troubling stats to me are SF +12 and GB -3 in turnover ratio.

    The Packers will need to win this turnover battle to pull this one out.

    While true a lot of Packer players may be from the south etc., the Packers have played 3 of their last 4 outside in the cold. I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong) SF has played a game below freezing all year!

    I think they will need to mix the man and zone coverages. Too much man, and 7 will scramble us to death. I think the Packers are just very bad at zone coverage..

    I agree that having Lacy brings a dimension that the Packers haven’t really had in the recent series. This, combined with the home field and elements I hope is enough for our heroes.

    GB 28
    SF 24

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • duncanator says:

      I read somewhere that they 49ers haven’t played a game all year where the temp was below 50.

      I do think that the cold will be a challenge for both teams so I hope the RB’s and punt returners will hold on to the ball.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Bedroske says:

    Giving me hope are the times the defense played under duress…times of urgency. Down at halftime, end of games, etc. They’ve shown signs of capability. Put it all together Dom!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Cinepost says:

    About the upcoming game at Lambeau Field: Any player who doesn’t wear sleeves is a moron. Check this out from the 1962 NFL Championship. They’re all wearing sleeves. And don’t try to tell me that Sam Huff, Ray Nitschke, and Paul Taylor were wusses. Oh, and they didn’t have space heaters, heated benches and helmet warmers. Check this out at the 33:40 mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgm68-poWIc

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  15. Dave says:

    Here is a ND redneck response to these posts. Weather will be a factor. It is to cold for me to be going late season bird hunting, so it is to darn cold to be chucking the football. I will be chuggin CPT Morgan, watchin the NDSU Bison win on Saturday and hopefully the Pack on Sunday. Got to love this team win or lose and thank God I am a Pack fan, verses Bear, Lion or Viking fan. Let’s go Pack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0