Can the 49ers top heavy defense slow down Aaron Rodgers and co.? While there is an abundance of storylines to cover, this is the one that has fans anticipating.
In what is now considered a passing league, the Green Bay Packers are what other potential teams are trying to emulate: a high-powered offense with a quarterback that can make surrounding players better.
Aaron Rodgers fits this description perfectly. He is not only the best quarterback in the league, but very well could be the best overall player in the NFL.
How many quarterbacks can lead their respective franchises to the top record, while also trying to support a terrible defense and a non-existent running game? The only other quarterback that comes to mind is Tom Brady.
Aaron Rodgers likely produced the best overall season for a quarterback in the Green Bay Packers 2011 campaign. The 2011 regular season MVP threw for 45 touchdowns, completed a little over 68 percent of his passes, and was picked off only six times in 16 starts.
In what turned out to be a magical season for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, it ironically ended with an upsetting playoff loss to the eventual champions in the New York Giants.
The San Francisco 49ers similarly ended the 2011 season on a sour note, after being eliminated in the NFC conference championship. Though, the 49ers surprising success in 2011 was met with both shock and amazement by both fans and media alike.
Who expected the 49ers to complete the 2011 season with a 13-3 regular season record, a first-round bye, in addition to a playoff win against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints?
Expectations were low for the 49ers heading into the season. A lockout, plus assimilating a new coaching staff, were some of the obstacles the 49ers faced heading into the 2011 season.
Not only did the 49ers obliterate expectations, they did it with such flair, but not so much with their play, but rather through bravado.
This was a team that came into each game with a simple and effective game plan. They wanted to play rock solid defense, while also ramming the ball down opposing teams throats with a strong running game.
While their game plan proved successful, the season turned magical when Alex Smith finally blossomed into the half of the quarterback many had hoped he would become.
Smith didn’t play like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but rather he played to his own strengths. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman, the 49ers head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively, did a wonderful job in creating an environment for Alex to succeed.
Forget ‘X’s and O’s,’ Harbaugh boosted Alex Smith’s confidence like no other 49ers coach in past seasons. Smith’s confidence was evident in his play, and in the success the 49ers achieved in 2011.
The 49ers are no longer a secret. This is a team fans and analysts have come to respect, and opposing teams fear.
This is an old school team, with an old school philosophy. They don’t want to dance around opposing defenses; rather they want to let you know what’s coming. This is a team that screams physical and their play has shown nothing but that.
What makes this an exciting game is the clash between the old and the new. While this is a classic offense vs. defense matchup, it is the differing philosophies of these two historic franchises that will make Sunday’s matchup all the more exciting.
While the 49ers beefed up their receiving corps with additions like Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, and A.J. Jenkins, this is still a team that wants to play hard-nosed football.
The same can be said about the Packers. While they beefed up their running game with the Cedric Benson signing, in addition to their focus on defense on draft day, this is still a team that will rely on the arm of golden quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Who will prevail between these two NFC conference powerhouses? Who knows but I’m confident that this will be an exciting contest.