Last season these two teams finished first and second in the NFC standings and there are high hopes for both teams going into the start of the 2012 season. This matchup will see one of the best offenses in the NFL in the Packers go up against one of the best defenses in the league in the 49ers.
The Packers offense was incredible last season. They were led by MVP Aaron Rodgers and his 46 touchdown passes to just six interceptions. However, they were ranked 27th in the run last year so the offense was solely relied on the passing game. With the way Green Bay can spread the field, this is not a problem for them. They use their short passing game as the run game and were able to finish the regular season with a record of 15-1.
The defense was the area for the Packers last season that struggled. They were ranked last in pass defense and spent most of the offseason focused on making changes to the defense. In the first five rounds in the 2012 draft, all the picks were focused on the defense. First-round pick Nick Perry will be getting his first start of his career at left outside linebacker and there is big expectations for him heading into this season.
As for the 49ers, they are returning all 11 starters back on defense which allowed only 14.5 points a game last season. Coach Jim Harbaugh took over for in San Francisco last year and revitalized this team. They are a hard-nose very physical team that is very good at wearing other teams down.
However, both teams had disappointing finishes to their seasons. Both the Packers and the 49ers lost to the New York Giants in devastating ways. The Packers were embarrassed with their performance in the playoffs where the offense didn’t look anything like they were the entire season. There were many dropped balls, the offensive line wasn’t able to protect Rodgers and there seem to be a lack of chemistry in that game. As for the 49ers, they took the Giants into overtime, but after a fumble on a punt return, the Giants were in field goal range and were able to kick their way into the Super Bowl.
The biggest thing to look for in this Week 1 matchup for the 49ers will be their key changes they have made on the offensive side of the ball. They added veteran wide receiver Randy Moss to play alongside Ted Ginn Jr. but since Moss didn’t play in the NFL last season and it is hard to predict what kind of season he will have. San Francisco also added former Giants receiver Mario Manningham to their roster which adds much needed depth for the 49ers at the receiver position. This has quarterback Alex Smith excited about his upcoming season.
“We just have so many weapons,” said Smith. “So much of this game comes down to matchups sometimes. We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of unique things. I think that’s a good problem to have. The more matchup problems you can create, the better.”
The matchups that the 49ers receivers will be facing will be a new-look secondary for the Packers. Charles Woodson will be moving from the cornerback position to play safety this season, with Sam Shields most likely becoming the new number two corner behind Tramon Williams.
The Packers will be close to full strength for their opener with only running back James Starks, cornerback Davon House and linebacker Jamari Lattimore missing the game. As for the 49ers, Ginn Jr. and Brandon Jacobs didn’t practice on Friday and they are both questionable heading into this game.
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