The Green Bay Packers return from the bye healthy and ready. Which guys will be the ones to take the lead in this important NFC matchup?
Back from some much needed time off, the Packers are healthy and look primed to make a postseason run. I can’t remember a time when the Packers were this healthy this late in the season.
In a turn from years past, the Packers have only one preferred starter from Week 1, Lane Taylor, on injured reserve. It can even be argued it was only a matter of time before he was over taken by Elgton Jenkins anyway. Matt LaFleur has done a wonderful job balancing the lineup, practice schedule and rest, to have his team in great health in Week 12.
Every starter and key player was available to practice. The only exception were players receiving LaFleur’s built in veteran rest. Everyone else practiced in some fashion.
The Packers are going to need all those healthy bodies. The San Francisco 49ers are a young, very talented team on the rise and it is reflected by their 9-1 record. The Packers will be challenged on both sides of the ball. The 49ers have a ton of talent on offense and defense and can stress the Packers in every way we have seen them to be vulnerable.
The 49ers have use a solid defense anchored by first-round picks (Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead) across the defensive line that can pressure the quarterback with the best of them. Dee Ford was also added in the offseason to help bolster and already-talented line.
On offense, the 49ers are led by Jimmy Garoppolo and speed galore. Marquise Goodwin, Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman are all guys who run 4.40 40-yard dash or better. Kyle Shanahan is a disciple from the same tree as the Packers’ own coach, his dad Mike Shanahan. It is the same system that produced Sean McVay. The Packers should be very familiar with it. But Shanahan has his own wrinkles and is sure to have left a few for his former protege.
But, the Packers may be catching the 49ers at an opportune time. Many key 49ers players are battling injuries and the team could be without or playing with a banged-up George Kittle, Joe Staley, Breida, and Ford. You can also add recently-acquired Emmanuel Sanders to that list.
Regardless, the 49ers will be looking to establish themselves as a force in the NFC and can do so with a win over the Packers. The importance of this game cannot be understated. As we get closer to the playoffs, games like these become more important not just for getting into the playoffs but for seeding.
Here are my Packers to watch in Week 12.