The San Francisco 49ers‘ defense does many things exceptionally well, but one thing that stands out as something they do better than the vast majority if not all defenses in the league is that they are able to stop and prevent teams from running the ball on them with any success. In fact, the 49ers’ defense was the fourth best run defense in the NFL during the 2013 regular season as they only gave up 95.9 yards an average per game.
Coming into the 2013 season, it was no secret that the Green Bay Packers needed to be able to run the ball better and bring some balance to their pass heavy offense. While they started slowly in making sure to establish and make the run a integral part of the offense, thanks to the play of rookie running back Eddie Lacy, the Packers finished the season as the seventh best rushing offense in the league averaging 133.5 yards per game with Lacy rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns in his rookie season.
In their Week 1 meeting, the 49ers did a pretty good job of controlling and preventing the Packers from establishing balance on offense as they held them to 63 yards rushing with Lacy only rushing for 41 yards on 14 carries. With this in mind, it is clear that the biggest key for the 49ers’ defense on Sunday afternoon will be their ability to shutdown and contain Lacy and the Packers’ rushing attack.
The reason that stopping Lacy and the Packers’ rushing attack will be key is twofold. First and foremost, making the Packers a one-dimensional team will allow for the 49ers to be able to tee off on Aaron Rodgers on obvious passing situations and allow for the likes of Aldon Smith to be able to have their way against an average at best Packers offensive line. In addition to forcing the Packers into obvious passing situations and being able to pressure Rodgers much more easily as a result, stopping and containing Lacy will also allow the 49ers to keep the Packers from controlling the game and time of possession given that they are the home team.
In addition to the tactical and strategic advantages that come from containing the Packers’ rushing attack, the 49ers will also have to make sure that they wrap up and do not let Lacy get away from any tackles given his hard running style. If they are able to do all three things, they will be able to win their respective matchup battle(s) against the Packers offense on Sunday afternoon.