TV Schedule: Sunday, Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: Levi’s Stadium
Weather: Low 59, High 81
Line: San Francisco (-4.5)
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off an 11-4 season and a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. The team, led by head coach Jim Harbaugh, is one of the best in football and the offense will look a bit different in 2013. Colin Kaepernick won the starting quarterback job midway through the season, pushing Alex Smith to the bench and eventually out of town. Kaepernick became an overnight sensation with his solid play in seven regular season starts in which he passed for over 1,800 yards and 10 touchdowns. He provides an extra element to the offense that was missing with Smith at QB. Frank Gore is back as one of the top running backs in the league as well, coming off a 1,200-yard season with eight scores on the ground.
On the other side of the field, the Green Bay Packers are coming off an 11-5 season and an appearance in the postseason. This game is a rematch of the divisional round of last year’s NFC playoffs. The 49ers put a beat-down on the Packers defense and Kaepernick arose as a star. Former MVP and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and is due for a solid game every time he steps on the field. With Rodgers at quarterback, it’s hard to see this team missing the playoffs, even without their top receiver from years past, Greg Jennings. Eddie Lacy will be a guy to watch out for in the run game as the rookie could make a splash.
Defensively, the Green Bay Packers are led by sack-expert Clay Matthews and solid linebacker A.J. Hawk. Both guys are a bit above average while Matthews definitely provides more of a spark than Hawk does. The Packers were one of the top defenses in 2012, allowing just 21 points and 336 yards per game. San Francisco were even better on that side of the ball. The 49ers ranked third in yards allowed per game with just 294 and second in points allowed per game with 17. Don’t be surprised if it’s even better in 2013.
PREDICTION: Packers 31, 49ers 35
Related: San Francisco Preview