3 Packers whose future depends on outcome of divisional round game vs. 49ers

Green Bay Packers
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Joe Barry

After the Packers allowed 30 points to a struggling Carolina Panthers offense on Christmas Eve, the writing was seemingly on the wall for defensive coordinator Joe Barry. It came only one week after Baker Mayfield earned a perfect passer rating at Lambeau Field.

However, since then, the Packers' defense has improved dramatically. Green Bay only allowed one touchdown in the final two weeks of the regular season, and that followed a Samori Toure muffed punt that set the Minnesota Vikings up on the seven-yard line.

Last week, Barry's unit shut down the league's No. 1 scoring offense. Forget that Dallas finished on 32 points. Half of them came with the game out of sight. With less than six minutes remaining in regulation, the Packers held a 48-16 lead. Not only had the defense restricted a red-hot Cowboys offense, but they had already scored seven points of their own on a Darnell Savage pick-six.

Barry's future in Green Bay? That remains a mystery. He has shown a willingness to play more man coverage and send pressure in recent weeks, and to good effect. But LaFleur's decision on whether to retain Barry could come down to Saturday night.

There's no shame in struggling to stop San Francisco's offense. The 49ers score points against everybody. But if the Packers get humiliated like they were in the 2019 NFC title game, it could cost Barry his job. What if Green Bay puts in another excellent defensive performance like last week? That would almost certainly guarantee Barry another year.