49ers Pass Offense vs. Packers Pass Defense
The three most important players on the Green Bay Packers defense are going to be Nick Perry, Tramon Williams, and Sam Shields. As the Packers know from first-hand experience, Colin Kaepernick is a downright scary quarterback when he’s playing at his best, and he’s definitely been playing at his best. It’s incredible how much difference a No. 1 wideout makes, and there’s no doubt that Michael Crabtree has really helped the 49ers offense a great deal. Crabtree is one of the toughest wide receivers in the NFL to cover due to his quickness and route-running, and he’s a reliable player whom Kaepernick trusts to the fullest.
But the 49ers offense is even more dynamic than it was last year due to the addition of Anquan Boldin, who quietly played at a very high level this season. He’s a size mis-match for most players, and the key is to always be physical with Boldin. If the Packers can fight fire-with-fire against Boldin and mitigate Crabtree’s effectiveness, then they would be well on their way to victory. It’s undoubtedly a difficult task, but Shields and Williams have shutdown potential when they are at their best. They are streaky corners, but they have talent and we’ve seen that talent shine through at times this season. If I were the Packers, I would put Shields on Boldin whenever possible and Williams on Crabtree.
Nick Perry was a revelation for the Packers earlier this year, but the USC product has really slid ever since then due to a foot injury that he has been doing his best to play through. The injury has been so nagging that Perry’s snap counts have fallen off a cliff lately, and that’s very concerning. The Packers can only hope that Perry is on the mend and ready to resume his early season form, because they can’t afford to put no pressure on Kaepernick. He will simply pick them apart with ease if he is given all the time in the world to operate, since the Packers secondary is vulnerable. Shutting down Boldin and Crabtree would help, but absolutely nobody should put their eggs in that basket.
The Packers are missing their best defensive player in Clay Matthews, which leave Mike Daniels as their only reliable pass rusher, unless if Perry can perform at a high level. I know Dom Capers loves blitzing, but blitzing isn’t the answer against a well-balanced team like the 49ers with a top-notch running QB. They should blitz in order to manufacture pressure- especially since the 49ers have a savvy, elite offensive line- but they have to be disciplined about it. The 49ers have a pretty nice advantage on offense, so the Packers will have to have a couple of players step-up and their coaches bring a great gameplan to the table to stop Kaep and the Niners O.
49ers Run Offense vs. Packers Run Defense
The 49ers have a talented passing attack, but they really love to run the football with elite back Frank Gore, who is probably the most patient rusher in the NFL. Armed with a stout offensive line, Gore almost always has a hole, and he is the best running back in the league at finding it. There aren’t many backs with Gore’s all-around ability as a rusher, as he is powerful, fast, smart, elusive, and a solid pass-catcher and pass blocker. If the Packers defense plays sloppy and misses tackles in the secondary and if the linebackers struggle to get off blocks, then it could be a long day for the Packers defense. With cold temperatures on tap, the Packers have to be very weary of the 49ers running game, because unlike the 49ers, the Packers aren’t well-equipped to stop their opponent’s rushing attack.