The Green Bay Packers will be going up against the San Francisco 49ers this Saturday night in a rematch of a the Week 1 game where the 49ers were able to defeat the Packers 30-22. With the game being four months ago, both teams have a completely different look, but if Green Bay is going to win this time around, then they must do what they didn’t do in Week 1: stop the run.
The 49ers had no problems running the ball against the Packers, totaling 186 yards on the ground on 32 rushing attempts. Running back Frank Gore led the way for San Francisco with 16 rushes for 112 yards averaging 7.0 yards a carry. The lack of performance by the Packers rush defense would be a sign of things to come, as for most of the season Green Bay didn’t have the ability to stop the run. Over the course of the season, the problem only seems to have gotten worse. The Packers were able to stop the Minnesota Vikings last weekend in their wild-card game, holding Adrian Peterson to under 100 yards for the first time in three tries this season on their way to the victory.
The Packers will be facing a team that has a similar identity to the Vikings. San Francisco is built around their running game and defense and want to have long possessions to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field as long as possible. The 49ers were ranked fourth in the league in rushing and will also feature the read-option, which has become a big play in many offenses this year. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is just like Vikings quarterback Joe Webb, who the Packers saw last week. However, Webb is a quarterback who doesn’t threaten defenses with his ability to throw. Kaepernick is a quarterback who can beat you with both his arm and his legs. With that in mind, it is almost impossible for the Packers to stop the read-option.
Every read-option snap will have the defense guessing three different things. The ball could either be handed off to Gore, kept by Kaepernick or it could be a passing play. During the Week 1 meeting, Alex Smith was the quarterback and he was very efficient in leading his team to the victory. Kaepernick was only in for one play, in which he ran for 17 yards. Now ever since Kaepernick has replaced Smith halfway through the season, he has gotten better with every week and has remained a threat to opposing defenses.
What Green Bay has to do is decide what part of the 49ers offense they want to shut out. The Packers should make sure that they stop the run game and eliminate the read-option. Green Bay was very disciplined last week attacking Peterson and they need that same discipline this week if they want to win. If the read-option can be slowed down and the 49ers have to try and win the game by Kaepernick’s arm, then that gives the Packers the best chance of winning.
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