11

January

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers 2012 Divisonal Playoff: Keys to the Game

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers will need a Superman-like performance to get the Packers by the 49ers in this week’s Divisional round playoff game

It’s the rematch many were hoping for after the week one meeting.  The Green Bay Packers get another shot at the San Francisco 49ers this Saturday in the Divisional playoff round.  Earlier this week, I talked about the changes between these two teams since that week one game.  Now let’s see how some of those changes along with some of the consistencies will factor in the game’s outcome as we discuss this week’s keys to the game.

Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers has been discussed at great length this week.  Here at allbgp.com, on ESPN, on Twitter, and on every sports radio/talk show imaginable.  And all for good reason.  Rodgers has a lot of expectations placed on him this week.  His performance will single-handedly determine the fate of the 2012 Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay will have their core wide receivers all healthy this week and it’s no secret, they will try to out-man the 49ers secondary and move the chains.  If there’s a guy open for a split second, Rodgers will find him.  If he is accurate and the receivers don’t come down with a case of the dropsies, this could be the key to the fast start that the Packers absolutely need in this game.

The challenge there is that Rodgers has started off slowly on far too many occasions this season.  Besides the week one matchup against the 9ers and the dud at New York in late November, Rodgers was still able to do his part to keep the Packers in every game this season.  In both of those losses, the Packers got behind early and never recovered.  They can ill-afford the same fate this weekend.  Rodgers needs to be in mid-game form from the opening snap and hopefully he brings his deadly accuracy with him.

Rodgers has a high level of confidence in his play and he emulates that on the field.  When it appears that there is nothing there at the snap, he keeps his eyes downfield and creates.  Even with this superior field vision, Rodgers was picked off in week one by linebacker NaVorro Bowman when he tried to get a ball by Bowman and into traffic.  The 9ers have a very active defense and they created 28 turnovers during the regular season.  They know how big it would be to get one or two this week and they will be dialed into every move Rodgers makes.

10

January

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers: Week 1 vs. Now

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick played very little in the first meeting between these teams. He will be a big focus of the Green Bay defense on Saturday

Some would simply look at this season’s week one matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers to start breaking down this upcoming Saturday’s divisional playoff game.  But each of these teams has made a sizable change between Week 1 and now.

So what are the changes?  The 49ers have a new starting quarterback in Colin Kaepernick and the Packers have found a more productive running game.  Let’s examine each of these factors as it relates to this upcoming game.

Quarterback

This is the biggest change for San Francisco.  In the week one matchup at Green Bay, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was the starter and he was extremely efficient.  He was 20 for 26 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.  It helped that Frank Gore added over 100 yards rushing and with Smith not under any real pressure all day.  The 49ers were able to beat the Packers for the first time since 1999 and the game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.

In a week 10 game against the St. Louis Rams, Smith suffered a concussion and had to leave the game.  That would be his last start and action during the 2012 season.  Smith was forced to miss the next week’s game when he was not cleared to return.

Back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick filled in for Smith and threw for two touchdowns in the team’s next game, a Monday Night win over the Chicago Bears.  From there, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh declared that he would continue with the “hot hand” and keep Kaepernick under center.

Kaepernick helped the 9ers get to 12 wins an secure the NFC’s second seed entering the playoffs.  He finished the season with 10 touchdown passes to just three interceptions.  He had over 400 yards rushing on the season and added another five touchdowns on the run.

In his only snap against the Packers in week one, Kaepernick ran for 17 yards and a big first down.  Green Bay has plenty of film on him and needs to focus hard on his mobility this week.  It’s Kaepernick’s first career playoff start, but he is coming in with a lot of confidence and it’s a home game.