How the Green Bay Packers shut down San Francisco

4 of 6

October 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Richard Rodgers (82) runs with the football against San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker

Michael Wilhoite

(57) during the third quarter at Levi

The Other Rodgers

On Sunday, Green Bay was without Davante Adams for another game due to an ankle injury.

Without him, there appeared to be a good chance that the passing game would be stuck with the type of top-heavy production coming from a couple guys that happened too often last season (Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson were the focus in 2014; this year it has been Cobb and James Jones leading the way).

When that happens to an offense, the defense can put their focus heavily onto those top options and force a team to rely on less-heralded options. If you remember the New England-Green Bay game from last year, that’s exactly what happened; things went well that time around, with Adams largely stepping up in that matchup to help bring the win.

Without Adams here though, someone else would have to step into that role of third-option and make the defense pay for over-committing their coverage against the top options.

Enter Richard Rodgers.

This season has already been decent for the other Rodgers. He had already firmly supplanted Andrew Quarless as the starting tight end before Quarless went onto IR-Return with an injury; now he’s firmly entrenched as the only known quantity at that spot (rookie 6th-rounder Kennard Backman is the only other tight end on the roster).

Over these first few weeks, he hasn’t been other-worldly, but he’s shown a higher level of consistency in terms of being a constant option in the passing game.

On the day, he was tied for 2nd-most targets on the day (6), as well as tied for the most catches in the game (5). He also showed off his strong ability to work in the end-zone, where he was able to work his way behind and around the secondary to give Aaron Rodgers a target for his only TD pass of the game.

Richard Rodgers does not appear to have the capability to become the type of dynamic option that a Rob Gronkowski or an in-prime Antonio Gates-type can be — though of course those are hard to find to begin with — but he is proving to be an ever-reliable presence that Aaron Rodgers can turn to, especially when things get closer to the end-zone.

His continued exploits there can further erase one of the problem spots that appeared on the 2014 squad (red-zone scoring) and secure himself a nice place in this offense for years to come.

Next: A Bag Full Of Sacks