When the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers met in Week 1 of the regular season, many felt that there was a great possibility that these two teams would meet again in the postseason. Well, the feeling that most people felt has come true. Though there will be a chance for the Packers to avenge their 30-22 loss to the 49ers, things will be a bit different this time around.
This time, the game will be played in San Francisco, and second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be the starter for the Niners.
Since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week 11, Kaepernick has led San Francisco to a 5-2 record in the team’s final seven games. Having Kaepernick under center makes the 49ers’ offense more explosive with his ability to run as well as pass. However, his youth and inexperience in the postseason might be the difference in this game–especially against a Packers defense that has veteran safety Charles Woodson back in the lineup.
As great as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is, he’ll still find it a bit difficult trying to dissect San Francisco’s third-ranked defense. Hopefully, for Green Bay, their nonexistent running game will come up big this Saturday night. Maybe the fact that Rodgers will be playing in Northern California, the same area where he played college ball, will motivate him even more to be at his best. I’m sure that the rest of the Packers are hoping so.
The one X-factor that may go unnoticed is San Francisco’s kicking game. Kicker David Akers has had by far his worse season as a kicker in his 15-year career as he’s only connected on 69 percent (29 for 42) of his field goal attempts this year.
As a precaution, the 49ers signed kicker Billy Cundiff this month. Cundiff was the kicker that missed the game-tying field goal for the Baltimore Ravens in last year’s AFC Championship Game. However, head coach Jim Harbaugh made the decision to stick with Akers going into the divisional round anyway.
On paper, it looks as if San Francisco’s defense should dominate Green Bay’s one-dimensional offense. But if you ask me, I think that Rodgers is one of the best, if not the best quarterback in the league. His poise and savvy, mixed in with Kaepernick’s lack of postseason experience, will make the difference in this renewed rivalry.
Prediction: Packers 23, 49ers 20
Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller