There may be a few days to go before the official start to fall, but one thing is for certain, it’s football season. With the Packers traveling to San Francisco to open the season, there will certainly be no easing in to the 2013 campaign. The last time the Packers paid a visit to the 49ers it was January of last year for the NFC divisional playoff game. As Packers fans are sure to remember, Green Bay departed San Francisco going down the road feeling bad.
The season is new, the rosters are a bit different for both teams, but if Packers fans are honest with themselves, they are concerned that the outcome of this Sunday’s game could be the same as it was in January and September 2012.
I have heard various radio personalities this week refer to Aaron Rodgers as the Lamborghini of NFL quarterbacks. This may be true; he certainly has a Lamborghini-like price tag. The problem with this analogy is with the unproven offensive line of the Green Bay Packers, Ted Thompson is parking his sports car on the street. This leaves me concerned that the ferocious 49ers pass rush, led by the Smith brothers – Justin and Aldon – are going to put some dings in A-Rod’s doors and fenders.
The 49ers, on the other hand, have a sports car of their own in quarterback Colin Kaepernick. If we are going to use a car analogy I would equate Kaepernick to an SUV like maybe the Range Rover Sport. He’s a running quarterback, but the guy has a strong arm and is accurate. This makes him dangerous on two levels. You take the ability to run away from him he can beat you through the air.
San Francisco has a physical, athletic defense that possesses quite possibly the best tandem of inside linebackers in the NFL – Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Coupled with Justin and Aldon Smith the 49ers defense is one of the best in the league. If they have a soft spot, it is in their secondary, and even that is debatable. They lost Dashon Goldson in the offseason to free-agency, but replaced him with first round draft pick Eric Reid. In addition they brought in cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, even though his best days are behind him.
On the offensive side of the ball they have a rugged running game led by Frank Gore, who went for 119 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in last year’s regular season matchup. The 49ers receivers are nothing special, but they do have Vernon Davis at tight end. He’s big and fast and can pose coverage nightmares.
By this point it probably feels like I am writing the Packers off on Sunday. I’m not, but I realize that this game is no small task for Green Bay. If the Packers truly have become a more physical team, Sunday is the day to exhibit this. For the Packers to win this game Aaron Rodgers will need to keep himself out of the proverbial body shop and Colin Kaepernick best find himself broken down on the side of the road. Clay Matthews and company need to wreck Kaepernick and contain Frank Gore.
I am sure the Packers have a plan to keep Aaron Rodgers from getting dinged, but as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” It will be interesting to see how David Bakhtiari and Don Barclay can take a punch or two.
A key matchup will be will be on the outside, – Jordy Nelson verses Asomugha. I think Nelson can get over on the aging corner. I, like many, am also interested to see how Eddie Lacy plays when the games count.