Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


Scouting the 49ers’ Next Opponent: Green Bay Packers

Nov 23, 2019 at 10:23 AM


This Sunday's game between the 49ers and Packers could almost conjure memories of the 49ers-Packers games of the late 90s. Both teams come in with high scoring offenses, with the 49ers and Packers ranked 2nd and 9th in points-per-game, respectively. Also, just as in the 90s, the matchup features one head coach being the former assistant of the other and both teams running nearly identical offenses.

However, how these teams are built are quite different.

On film and on paper the Packers's defense is built from the outside in with 2018 first round pick Jaire Alexander and free agent edge players Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith.

What this means: For Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense to operate effectively they'll need good games from their 3 interior lineman. On film the Packers' base personnel defensive tackles have struggled eating up double teams, oftentimes allowing lineman to get to the 2nd level. If the trio of Tomlinson, Richburg and Person can take advantage of Green Bay's interior personnel it will allow Kyle Shanahan to attack ILBs Blake Martinez and B.J. Goodson in the passing game off play action.

The Packers also play a high frequency of man-coverage, utilizing the coverage abilities of Alexander and free agent signing Adrian Amos. This means George Kittle's health, as well as solid performances by Kyle Juszcyk and the other running backs will be needed to keep away from the strength of Green Bay's pass defense.

If the 49ers can run the ball between the tackles on early downs it will allow them to stay in personnel packages that will keep the Packers in their base defense. This will also force one of Green Bay's outside linebackers into coverage, where they have also been a liability.

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay's offense is also built from the outside in. It features two very good tackles in David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga as well as receivers Davante Adams – who ranks 5th in the NFL in yards per-route-run according to pro football focus, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Not surprisingly then, Aaron Rodgers ranks highest among all quarterbacks in throws outside the numbers, as scored by Pro Football Focus.

Aaron Jones has been putting together a solid season in a renewed commitment to the run game under first-year head coach Matt LeFleur but showed a tendency to try a bounce inside runs to the outside and Green Bay's interior offensive line has struggled against a strong interior rush.

This will match up well for the 49ers as their wide 9 alignment helps contain edge runs and their combination of Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas has done well in eating up double teams.

In the pass game the interior rush of Armstead and Buckner will be key in forcing pressure on Aaron Rodgers. Robert Saleh's preference for zone coverage should match up much better than man-coverage, which Aaron Rodgers has excelled at beating this year. If the interior rush can pressure Rodgers before the coverage is able to be stretched effectively it will allow the 49ers defense to contain Green Bay's passing offense.

In all, the 49ers are a team that has been built from the inside out on both sides of the ball facing a team that is built from the outside in. If Kyle Shanahan and Co. can exploit these weaknesses they have a chance to improve to 10-1 and stay one step ahead of the rest of the top teams in the conference.
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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