The only way for the Green Bay Packers to defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, besides keeping quarterback Colin Kaepernick in check, is to be physical on every single snap. The linebackers and defensive backs will have to hit with authority, while both lines will have to get nasty in the trenches.
There is no question the 49ers know a storm is about to hit Candlestick Park Sunday afternoon, which is why head coach Jim Harbaugh is talking to any NFL official that will listen regarding the Packers’ “intimidating” talk.
“You’re hearing a lot of tough talk right now, intimidating type of talk, the kind of things, the same thing we were hearing a couple of years ago,” Harbaugh said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It sounds like targeting a specific player. You definitely start to wonder.”
Harbaugh made this statement in response to Clay Matthews’ comments on ESPN’s “Mike & Mike” in which the outside linebacker talked about getting after Kaepernick.
“One of the things that the referees have told us is that when these quarterbacks carry out the fakes, they lose their right as a quarterback, a pocket-passing quarterback, the protection of a quarterback,” Matthews said. “So with that, you do have to take your shots on the quarterback, and obviously they’re too important to their offense. If that means they pull them out of that type of offense and make them run a traditional, drop-back, pocket-style offense, I think that’s exactly what we’re going for. So you want to put hits as early and often on the quarterback and make them uncomfortable.”
What Matthews said is how every defense in the league feels. The only way to win in the NFL is to get the opposing quarterback out of his element. In this case, it means putting Kaepernick on the ground as many times as possible. Obviously, Harbaugh has taken it as more of a New Orleans Saints approach in which there is a bounty on his quarterback’s head. This could not be farther from the truth, but Harbaugh wants to make sure the referees on Sunday are well aware of what could be so some calls can go his way.
There are plenty of reasons for Green Bay to want to be physical, with the top reason being the embarrassing loss in last year’s NFC Divisional Playoffs. The Packers have a great shot at redemption in the first week of the season, something many teams do not get. It is critical they take advantage of this awesome opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the year.