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Now vs. Then: 49ers at Packers a different matchup than previous meeting

Chris Beno
Jan 19, 2022 at 10:00 AM--

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Many of us remember how the Week 3 matchup against the Green Bay Packers played out. The 49ers started off slowly on offense, fell behind early, and then made a heroic comeback late in the game only to have Aaron Rodgers do what he does best—win.

The offense and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo couldn't get anything going in the first half of that game. Garoppolo did orchestrate that second-half comeback and even led the 49ers to a late-game lead before Aaron Rodgers surgically moved downfield to set up the game-winning field goal.

Unfortunately, offensive struggles in one of the two halves have been a trend for the 49ers all season, with both Garoppolo and rookie Trey Lance under center. It's an issue this team needs to address going forward if they plan on winning any more playoff games.

Sure, the team has made heroic comebacks, or even held onto a lead for dear life. However, that is not a sustainable formula if you plan on winning in the playoffs. The margin for error, playing that style of football, is extremely low, especially for a banged-up quarterback who will have issues winning with his arm.

Back in Week 3, the Green Bay Packers faced a very different 49ers team than the one they are about to play this Saturday. Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell didn't play, wide receiver Deebo Samuel wasn't utilized in the run game like he is now, and Josh Norman was the starting cornerback opposite Emmanuel Moseley.

One of the biggest changes that shouldn't be overlooked is defensive tackle Arik Armstead moving inside from his big end position after defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw went on IR. The Packers dominated the ball on the ground in Week 3, but the 49ers rush defense has been the best in the NFL in the second half of the season.

Many national media members are writing the 49ers off in this game, including ESPN, giving the Packers a 64.5% chance of winning on Saturday.

I'm not entirely sure why, because I view this game as a matchup nightmare for the Packers.

The Packers are ranked 25th in the NFL in defensive DVOA, which is the adjusted ranking based on the level of opponents they have faced this season.

The Packers are 27th in DVOA against the run. Guess what the 49ers do well? The 49ers also have the league's third-best defense and sixth-best pass defense.

Pound for pound, this is a very favorable matchup for the 49ers, who have to travel to the frozen tundra that is Lambeau Field. However, I'm not convinced that the cold weather is advantageous to the Packers over the run-heavy 49ers.

It is worth noting that the Packers are 8-0 at home this season. It's also worth noting that the 49ers are 8-2 in their last 10 games and finished the season with the best record in the NFL since Week 8.

This game is going to come down to who makes the most mistakes. With Garoppolo nursing the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing thumb and a sprained right shoulder, limiting his throws as much as possible might be a necessity. After all, he single-handedly made the necessary mistakes against the Dallas Cowboys to get them back into the game last week.

The road to victory isn't hard to see in this matchup. Defensively, get after Aaron Rodgers and shut down the run. Offensively, establish the run, limit the mistakes and avoid 3rd and long situations. Tight end George Kittle has to be a major contributor on offense this week. Over the last three games, Kittle has only had seven catches on 12 targets for 57 yards. With the Packers ranked 28th in DVOA against tight ends, that is a matchup that the 49ers need to capitalize on.

If the 49ers can do these things throughout the playoffs, then they have the makeup to win it all.
  • Chris Beno
  • Written by:
    Coming from Elk Grove, California I grew up a Bay Area sports fan. I've been cheering for the 49ers for as long as I can remember. In 2005 I joined the Army when I was 18 and got stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. I just kind of hung around here. I've always enjoyed writing and have typically focus on writing music. I am truly blessed to get to cover the 49ers, and have my articles published on the 49ers Webzone. I appreciate all of the Faithful that take the time to read the articles that myself and other contributors put out there. The 49ers have without a doubt the best fanbase, and best content creators around.
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.

1 Comment

  • Pablo H.
    Nice stat recap, on the week 3 matchup we should not have left time on the clock. and we did well overall in away games. Jimmy sure has the habit of throwing ints and Kyle clarified that the QB sneak penalty was on him, but I don't see What he did wrong in the fake punt coverage snafu. "After all, he single-handedly made the necessary mistakes against the Dallas Cowboys to get them back into the game last week"
    Jan 19, 2022 at 10:36 AM

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