When the San Francisco 49ers faced off against the Green Bay Packers back in Week 1, they had a big game passing the football as Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns for the win. Kaepernick and the 49ers’ passing attack had its struggles during the season, but ended the year on a high note as the QB finished with 3,197 yards passing.
Given this, one would assume that the 49ers’ ability to throw would be the biggest offensive key on Sunday afternoon, but it is not.
At their core, the 49ers’ offense is characterized by a power rushing attack running behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. The 49ers finished as the third-best rushing offense, averaging 137.6 rushing yards per game while Frank Gore turned in a Pro Bowl season by rushing for 1,128 yards, which was ninth best amongst all running backs.
Take into account that the 49ers will be going up a Packers defense who was 25th-best against the run, allowing opponents to rush for an average of 125 yards per game, it is clear what the biggest key for the 49ers must be on Sunday afternoon.
Back in their Week 1 matchup, the Packers’ defense did a very good job of preventing the 49ers’ rushing attack from embarrassing it like it had done during the 2013 NFC Divisional Playoffs. It was clear that Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers made it a point that the 49ers were not going to beat them on the ground at all costs.
Yet, the Packers’ defense will be missing two key defensive players, Clay Matthews and Johnny Jolly. It is no coincidence that in the last two games, opposition running backs have gone over 150 yards rushing on the Packers’ defense. Emphasizing and staying committed to running the football should not be an issue for the 49ers and if they can do that, the offense should be able to control the game and be a big part of a road playoff win.