Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Buy or Sell: 49ers vs. Packers Edition

Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 26, 2021 at 4:15 PM--

The 49ers are returning to Levi's Stadium for the first time in 616 days with fans in the stadium. Coincidentally, their Week 3 opponent, the Green Bay Packers, were also their opponent when fans were last allowed in the stadium, which was the 2019 NFC Championship Game, which the 49ers won 37-20.

With a showdown against Aaron Rodgers, who was interested in being traded to the 49ers earlier this offseason, and the Packers, the 49ers will face their hardest test to date on their 2021 schedule.

So, let's "buy" and "sell" some potential takes ahead of the highly-anticipated matchup.

1. Jimmy Garoppolo will throw for 250 yards - BUY

In Jimmy Garoppolo's two games against the Packers over his career, both coming during the 49ers' 2019 Super Bowl run, he's thrown for 253 yards and 78 yards. So, why buy this take?

Well, looking back at both 2019 games, the 49ers ran for 112 yards and 285 yards, respectively, while dominating Aaron Rodgers defensively, especially in their 37-8 win in the regular season.

With the injuries to the 49ers' top 3 running backs (Raheem Mostert is out for the year, JaMycal Hasty is on IR, and Elijah Mitchell is doubtful), the running game might not be as effective, as Trey Sermon, Kerryon Johnson, and Jacques Patrick are the main options at the moment.

Still, with the 49ers having a favorable advantage on both sides of the line, the team should be able to run more effectively than last week, setting up the passing offense with more play-action opportunities.

While I expect the 49ers to carry away with this game in the second half before the Packers begin making a push, I think the passing game, especially in the early stages, will play a bigger factor, so look for Jimmy Garoppolo to hit the goal of 250 yards on Sunday night.

2. Aaron Rodgers will throw for 300 yards - SELL

In his two 2019 games against the 49ers, Aaron Rodgers threw for 104 yards and 326 yards, respectively, while throwing for 305 yards last season against a depleted 49ers defense in a Green Bay win.

So, again, why am I selling this take?

Well, the circumstances are way different here. Rodgers was completely shut down during the first 2019 meeting as he was smothered by an impressive pass-rush and averaged only four yards per pass attempt. Then, in the second 2019 meeting, Rodgers was behind for a significant portion of the game, meaning more throwing, as the Packers abandoned the run-game, rushing only 16 times as opposed to 39 pass attempts.

Now, Rodgers is not only behind a worse offensive line, but the Packers seem more inclined to run the football this season.

After abandoning the run-game in their humiliating 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Packers ran the ball 31 times (3 were QB kneels) against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, setting the tone for their 35-17 win.

In addition, the run defense seems to be the 49ers' biggest defensive weakness this season, not the pass coverage, as they gave up 151 yards on the ground on 5.2 yards-per-carry last week to the Eagles after surrendering 116 yards on 4.8 yards-per-carry the week to the Lions.

With a heavier focus to the running game and a weaker offensive line, I'm selling on the fact that Aaron Rodgers will eclipse 300 yards this weekend.

3. The over-under of 50.5 points will be reached - BUY

Caesars Sportsbook currently has the over-under for the 49ers vs Packers game at 50.5 points, and I'm taking the over for this matchup.

Once again, looking at the previous three matchups, there were scores of 37-8, 37-20, and 17-34, with the third game coming with a third-string quarterback in Nick Mullens at the helm of the 49ers offense.

Expect this game to be a relatively-high scoring game.

In Week 1, the 49ers offense was clicking on all cylinders, with a combination of success in the passing and the running games, but in Week 2, the strong Philadelphia front continuously put pressure on the quarterback with a variety of fronts and blitzes, forcing the 49ers to adapt to a gameplan surrounding screen and short passes.

Here, with the strong San Francisco offensive line and a mildly-strong Green Bay front without its top pass rusher Zadarious Smith, that level of pressure won't be there, meaning the playbook can open up more, increasing offensive opportunities. Remember, the 49ers scored 37 points TWICE during the 2019 campaigns in which the team was healthy.

Green Bay is no slouch either, behind last year's MVP Aaron Rodgers, who just scored 35 points against the Lions, and have a competent rushing attack through Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon.

This game should be a relatively-high scoring game, and I think that that at least 52 points will be scored in this matchup.

4. The spread of San Francisco (-3) will be reached - BUY

A majority of the bets on this Sunday night prime time matchup have been placed on the Green Bay Packers to cover their +3 spread, but I think the opposite will occur. With a weaker defense (no Blake Martinez or Zadarious Smith), the Packers are somewhat susceptible on both the second and third levels of their defense apart from Jaire Alexander.

That, along with the 49ers' improvements on the offensive side of the ball with their receiving core and offensive line, should give the 49ers the edge. In addition, many games are won alongside the offensive and defensive trenches, which is where the 49ers have a favorable advantage.

San Francisco's depth along the defensive line should keep them energized for the full 60 minutes, while Green Bay is already down multiple key players and won't have that luxury.

While the game should be relatively close for the first half, expect the 49ers to carry away with the lead in the second half as the pass rush starts hitting home, pushing them past their -3 spread.

5. There will be at least one 100-yard rusher - SELL

Aaron Jones is building off of a game where he had 115 all-purpose yards to go with a whopping four touchdowns in Green Bay's 35-17 victory against the Detroit Lions, sparking the intriguing conversation as to whether a player may rush for 100 yards in this matchup.

The 49ers have allowed well over 100 yards on the ground in consecutive weeks, with Jalen Hurts earning the most rush yards of either opponent in Weeks 1 and 2 with 82 yards on ten carries.

In addition, rookie Elijah Mitchell ran for 104 yards during the 49ers' Week 1 win, but he remains doubtful for tonight's matchup with a shoulder injury.

In the 2019 NFC Championship Game, Raheem Mostert went on a tear, rushing for 220 yards against the Packers from on 37 carries.

So, will there be a 100-yard rusher in this game? I say no.

First of all, the Packers run somewhat of a running back committee as A.J. Dillon has seen playing time and redzone touches, despite Aaron Jones being the clear #1 running back in Green Bay.

Next, Elijah Mitchell, the 49ers' #2 running back, is set to miss Sunday night's game, and the 49ers also prefer a running back committee, so it makes sense that Trey Sermon, the probable starting back, won't get enough opportunity to rush for 100 yards.

Green Bay also hasn't allowed a rusher to have a 100-yard game yet this season, making this a "sell" for the week.

6. The 49ers will get three sacks - BUY

In 2019, when the 49ers faced Aaron Rodgers, they sacked him five times for 38 yards in the regular season and three times for 30 yards in the NFC Championship Game.

However, in 2021, the 49ers sport somewhat of a weaker defense as their secondary has suffered from the losses of Richard Sherman and Jason Verrett, and DeForest Buckner is no longer on the team.

Still, the 49ers have Nick Bosa, who might be better than he was two years ago despite his ACL tear, Dee Ford, and a deep core along the defensive line to help with pressure, and are facing potentially third-stringers at both left and right tackle with David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins out.

The 49ers sacked Jared Goff three times in Week 1 and Jalen Hurts twice last week, and should continue to feast on a much-depleted Green Bay offensive line that also doesn't have former All-Pro center Corey Linsley anymore as he departed in free agency.

Look for the 49ers to dominate on both fronts as they boast a strong offensive line themselves, and have a stellar pass rush against a not-so-stellar Green Bay front.

7. Deebo Samuel will have 100 yards receiving - SELL

Two weeks into the season, Deebo Samuel leads the NFL with 282 receiving yards, after accumulating 189 yards in Week 1 and following it up with 93 yards in Week 2.

While Brandon Aiyuk is finding his role in the 49ers offense following an offseason hamstring injury, Deebo Samuel has emerged as Jimmy Garoppolo's favorite target.

With a likely higher-scoring game, surely, Samuel could continue to perform at a high level and perhaps eclipse the 100-yard mark.

I just don't see it happening in Week 3.

With Jaire Alexander, who's easily the best corner San Francisco has faced this year, likely shadowing Samuel when they're on the same side of the field, the 49ers could look to expand the passing game, especially with Kevin King out with an illness. Look for a more spread-out passing attack with targets going across the middle to George Kittle or Brandon Aiyuk, but also for Samuel as well.

Because of the defensive scheme the 49ers will likely face, I don't see Samuel having at least 100 yards strictly on the receiving end in Week 3.

8. The Green Bay Packers will get two sacks - SELL

The Packers pass-rush has gotten off to a slow start in 2021, collecting only one sack over the first two weeks of the season.

With Zadarious Smith on Injured Reserve and defensive tackle Kenny Clark facing a stiff matchup in Alex Mack, it's hard to see the Packers getting at least two sacks on Sunday night.

Over the last three matchups between the teams, where San Francisco's offensive line has primarily remained the same, the Packers have earned five sacks. Of those five, 4.5 were attributed to Zadarius Smith (2.5 sacks), Blake Martinez (1 sack), and Kyler Fackrell (1 sack), all of whom aren't with the team on Sunday.

With a struggling pass-rush so far and a strong offensive line in San Francisco, I find it hard to believe that Green Bay will get two sacks on Jimmy Garoppolo during Sunday night's game.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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