Green Bay Packers – San Francisco 49ers Preview: NFL Week 13: A Running Start?

Last week the Green Bay Packers fell on a last second field goal, losing to the Atlanta Falcons 20-17 and snapping the Packers’ four-game winning streak. Now the San Francisco 49ers, fresh off of a Monday Night win, come to Lambeau hoping to pull an upset.

While the Atlanta game was by no means a devastating loss, the Packers now likely will not get home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs although they still can get the number two seed and a first round bye should they be able to wrestle the NFC North from the Chicago Bears.

This week, the Packers return home for the first time in four weeks to face the “underachieving” San Francisco 49ers.

I use quotation marks there because somehow the 49ers are only a game out of first place in their division despite their record of 4-7.  That’s how bad the NFC West is this year. A 7-9 record could be enough to make the playoffs.

If the Packers want any motivation, it’s that. They could end up sitting at home for the playoffs with a 10-6 record while a team at 7-9 gets in.

There’s a major problem with that logic, but that’s a debate for another day.

Breaking down the 49ers

For the first time since Week 1, the Packers face a dual threat quarterback in 49ers starter Troy Smith.  Since taking over for Alex Smith (no relation), Troy has provided a spark to an offense that badly needed one.  Troy Smith’s running ability added a whole other dimension to an offense that already featured two talented pass catchers.

Those pass catchers are wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis.  Davis is one of the best tight ends in football who plays in a style similar to the Packers’ Jermichael Finley. He’s fast, physical, and not afraid to go up and over defenders to make the catch.

Crabtree is just as big a threat. His speed and soft hands make him a dangerous perimeter receiver. The Packers’ corners will have their hands full with him.

The 49ers rushing attack should have died when Frank Gore was lost for the season this week with a hip injury. However, the suddenly revived Michael Westbrook picked right up where Gore left off. When he’s healthy, Westbrook is one of the best and most versatile backs in the league as he was a favorite target of Donovan McNabb during their time with the Eagles.  He should see plenty of carries as well as passes on Sunday.