What to Watch in Packers vs 49ers

Four things to watch out for as the Packers take on the 49ers on Sunday Night Football.

The Green Bay Packers face a daunting test on the road in week three, as they travel to Levi’s Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers. If the Packers are to pull off the upset, there are several factors which will play a huge part in that success. Here are four things to watch in Packers vs 49ers:

Will the Packers stick with the run?

His four touchdown catches captured the headlines last week, but Aaron Jones’ ability on the ground is still very much the key to this Packers offense. Green Bay’s attack will go as Jones goes on Sunday night.

One of the hallmarks of the Packers’ big losses to the likes of San Francisco and Tampa Bay is an impatience from Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers, causing them to abandon the run too quickly and spiral into an ineffective brand of ‘hero-ball’.

Even if the Packers are only picking up modest gains on the ground early on, LaFleur and 12 need to hold their water and stay disciplined. It’s tough to see a path to victory for Green Bay which involves Rodgers throwing the ball all over the yard.

The offensive brain trust of the Packers must cook up an effective plan, combining the electric playmaking of Aaron Jones and the thumping power of AJ Dillon to keep the 49ers defense guessing and make it a difficult evening for their superstar linebacker Fred Warner.

Can Green Bay control the 49ers running game?

The phrase ‘earn the right to rush the passer’ has never been truer than against this San Francisco run-first attack.

When the Packers and 49ers met in the NFC Championship Game back in 2019, the Niners could have won the game without their quarterback even throwing a pass. This time around, Green Bay must make Jimmy Garoppolo beat them.

It hasn’t seemed to matter who Kyle Shanahan rolls out at running back, the 49ers are lethal on the ground. They will have some production on Sunday, no doubt, but the Packers defense cannot allow the long, punishing drives that the Saints enjoyed in the opener.

A faster start on offense?

The Packers offense has taken its time getting going in each of the first two games, which has not been helped by the low number of plays they were able to run. That has prompted much debate over whether Green Bay should continue to defer possession until the second half when winning the coin toss.

Regardless of whether the Packers start with the ball or not, they must get things going in a hurry on offense in a game where they’re likely going to have to score a lot of points to keep up.

If Green Bay get a lead, they can make the 49ers more predictable when they have the ball, limiting the opportunity to bamboozle Joe Barry’s defense with a devastating rushing attack and rotating quarterbacks.

Will the tackles hold up?

Elgton Jenkins has done a remarkable job stepping in for David Bakhtiari, with almost no noticeable drop-off between the two stud offensive linemen. With Jenkins listed on the injury report as ‘doubtful’ going into Sunday, the Packers are in quite the pickle as they look to survive up front.

Nick Bosa will be licking his lips at the thought of going up against someone not named Elgton Jenkins at left tackle, whether it’s Billy Turner, Dennis Kelly, or Yosh Nijman, while Packers fans may be watching through their fingers every time Rodgers drops back to pass.

Green Bay has dealt with all of their offensive line issues exceptionally well so far, rolling with the punches as Corey Linsley departed in free agency and Bakhtiari failed to return from injured reserve to begin the season, but the latest blow may be too much to overcome against a ferocious 49ers pass rush.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (32)

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 25, 2021 at 03:35 pm

Maybe, maybe, maybe, and maybe. Although, each can be assigned a probably not, though maybe sounds a bit more, optimistic. So nobody should accuse me of not doing my part.

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 25, 2021 at 06:22 pm

Jenkins is out so maybe isn't so maybe.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 26, 2021 at 11:08 am

Honestly, I am feeling some frustration towards Elgton Jenkins now missing the game. The Packers really need him against Nick Bosa. We will never know but if he had reported his ankle injury immediately and sat out the rest of the Lions game he 'just maybe' might not have injured the ankle to where he cannot play this week. We will never know but having had many ankle sprains in sports myself I can tell you he undoubtedly aggravated it further.

This is where the coaches and trainers really have to educate these players about reporting injuries. We all can appreciate a player being touch and 'sucking it up' but was Jenkins doing that at whatever point in the LIons game detrimental to the long-term success of the Packers this year? Might we won the 49's game with Jenkins playing? Does Rodgers get hurt from a blind side QB sack, etc?

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fordguy's picture

September 26, 2021 at 04:46 pm

King is out too (illness), not yet sure if that's a good or bad thing.

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splitpea1's picture

September 25, 2021 at 03:55 pm

What I'm going to be watching for:

Does the team come out with energy, ready to play?

Who covers Samuel and do we play him tight; and how do we do against Kittle? Remember in the 2019 regular season both caught long TD passes against us.

Do we overcommit to stopping the run and will Barry try to get creative? He should have some insight into this opponent from his days with the Rams.

On offense, how the line holds up is the key. If it does, then we have a fighting chance. If not....

What I'm not looking for: any foolish trickery near the goal line like the Eagles tried unsuccessfully last game against SF. Don't give away points.

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barutanseijin's picture

September 25, 2021 at 05:35 pm

I have the sense that the Forty Whiners are somewhat overrated. Nevertheless, they have their strengths, and many of those strengths map on to a corresponding Packer weakness. Oh, and Jenkins has been declared out.

- Watch for Packer RBs running into a wall of defenders at the line of scrimmage.

- Watch for Rodgers and Love getting flattened.

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LeotisHarris's picture

September 25, 2021 at 05:45 pm

After watching the Badgers today, my overall take on what to watch for heading into Sunday night is I picked the wrong weekend to quit sniffing glue (nod to Lloyd Bridges as Steve McCroskey).

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Johnblood27's picture

September 26, 2021 at 06:42 am

and I picked a bad weekend to quit barbiturates...

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 26, 2021 at 11:10 am

Leo.....here is a hint.....if you have a can of lacquer thinner find a rag and saturate and just throw it on your shoulder and leave it there. I'm sure it will do an adequate job! :)

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SanLobo's picture

September 25, 2021 at 06:04 pm

The loss of Jenkins is a tough blow…our O-line will be challenged and Bosa and 49er defense will be a test. That said, our Offense was not slow getting started in the Detroit game. Detroit played cover-2 most of the 1st half. We took what the defense gave us and scored 2 TDS with the three possessions we had in the first half. Then we capitalized on Detroit’s mistakes in the second.
The “hero ball” narrative on Aaron Rodgers gets a little puzzling since we usually only see it when we are trailing by multiple scores and/or time is critical. Based on post game comments by LaFleur after the Detroit game I don’t think Rodgers goes rogue nearly as often as some believe. But “hero ball” happens when we have no choice but to take greater risks. We watched Rodgers and LaFleur execute the game plan against Detroit which meant mostly short ball plays until the second half, when we could afford a little more risk. It’s a game of risk management. If we’re behind in San Fran we will see lots of hero ball because there won’t be another option but to take bigger risks.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 26, 2021 at 11:12 am

Does HERO ball include Rodgers running for his life throughout the game with the 49's defensive front 7?

Let's not confuse hero ball simply because Rodgers is running around like Barry Sanders of old trying to survive.

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SanLobo's picture

September 26, 2021 at 05:29 pm

“ Does HERO ball include Rodgers running for his life throughout the game with the 49's defensive front 7?”.

No. What I’m talking about is the “hero ball” narrative repeated on this forum that Rodgers gets impatient, recklessly goes for the long ball, ignores the offensive scheme and ignores LaFleur. It appears Rodgers tries to take what the defense gives him. He has shown great patience with running the ball when the run game is working. If they cannot get the run game going, he tries to establish a passing game. None of us know what the team’s game plan is each week before each game. Scheme isn’t plan, but LaFleur and others have said they adjust their scheme and plan based on who they play each game. As far as sticking with the scheme, Rodgers played a huge role in tailoring the entire offensive scheme to the available talent between 19 and 20, and has said he works with LaFleur and Hackett in adjusting the scheme and plan for each week. After the Detroit game, when asked about those long misses to MVS, LaFleur began his response with, “We.” We, to me, means him and Rodgers, him and Hackett, or maybe all three, but those passes were a coordinated decision.

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canadapacker's picture

September 25, 2021 at 06:48 pm

What I am hoping to see - with the top running backs out for San Fran - I highly doubt that they will run the ball down our throat. They are down to their 3rd and 4th running backs although they elevated Johnson who played for the Lions and he can run. So I am hoping to see Clark Lancaster and the boys to be stout in the middle . But I think that they might be using some ways to get the ball into Deebo's hands so we will need to bring help up and they will need to tackle. I am hoping to see Njiman play - Always thought that he had the size and skills but never played well in preseason - and was hurt a bit - and he had to learn how to block - but he has size and speed to get to the second level in the run game. I am hoping to see the Oline not to let anybody run free and hope that the game plan is geared to motion, short passes roll outs and a lot of 2 tight end sets with Tonyon and Lewis .

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Crankbait's picture

September 26, 2021 at 04:12 am

If you are an NFL drafted RB, 1,2,or 3 string,
you will be effective running behind a good line and against an inferior line.

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wildbill's picture

September 25, 2021 at 07:30 pm

The 49ers play a very physical game on both offense and defense. I would not call either of ours “physical” and until we become a physical team these types of games will not go well for us.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 25, 2021 at 07:38 pm

We. Are. Going. To. Get. Boat. Raced.

I am only hoping to come out of the game injury free with a clean L. Hopefully we can see these guys in January in our place. Sick of traveling to Cali.

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barutanseijin's picture

September 25, 2021 at 08:11 pm

We’ll see how good the Niners are. They match up well with the Packers, who are traveling on a short week. After that who knows? Everyone thinks that they pick up where they left off before all the injuries in 2020. It’s never so simple.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 25, 2021 at 10:51 pm

I’m swimming against the stream. I think the Niners aren’t as strong as many here believe.

First, I look at them compared to the rest of their division. It’s a tough division, and I think the Rams and Seahawks are better teams. I think Garrapolo is the weakest QB in the division. In short, I don’t think the Niners are the big, bad beast. They’re going to lose home games and miss the playoffs, IMO.

They’ve faced two offenses, and two QBs, that aren’t as good as the Packers. Unless we’re sloppy and stop ourselves, we’re going to move the ball and score points.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 26, 2021 at 02:55 am

I am sure the Packers will try to stab it with their steely knives.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 26, 2021 at 06:48 am

...but they just won't kill the beast...

GBP better put their big-boy pants on and come with a punch-you-in-the-mouth attitude if they want to stay in this game.

This is no time to be playing My-scheme-is-better-than-your-scheme games between MLF and Shanny.

MLF needs to challenge his men to step up and play a tough brand of football - start strong and finish every play.

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Guam's picture

September 26, 2021 at 08:51 am

Agreed JB27. This game will be won or lost in the trenches. It will be big boy football and the Packers lines will need to develop some attitude to win this game.

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barutanseijin's picture

September 26, 2021 at 10:32 am

Never mind

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 26, 2021 at 11:16 am

The problem is anytime the Packers face a very strong front 7 they get annihilated where it totally takes them out of offensive rhythm. I hope you are right and I especially hope our QB's do not get injured seriously.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 26, 2021 at 12:53 pm

We’ve beaten good front sevens, Bears. Rams.

If we don’t beat ourselves with turnovers, we’re gonna be okay.

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Fabio's picture

September 26, 2021 at 04:41 am

"One of the hallmarks of the Packers' big losses to San Francisco and Tampa Bay is the impatience of Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers, which led them to abandon the race too quickly and become an ineffective 'hero-ball' brand.

Even though the Packers are reaping only modest gains on the pitch early on, LaFleur and 12 need to hold their waters and remain disciplined. It's hard to see a path to victory for Green Bay that involves Rodgers throwing the ball across the yard. "

All true all right. There is one small problem .....
If the running game doesn't work (as it did twice with Tampa and SF in 2019) and we insist on running, we could suddenly find ourselves down 14-20 points ..... I don't think that's a good plan .... . (In Italy it is said that when the sheet is short from whatever side you pull it a part of the body remains uncovered LOL).
The problem is that when I set a team's game to run, it assumes that you tend to check the clock and have a good D. Maybe the real problem is that this team doesn't have all those talented WRs that many talk about and that they have trouble separating quickly. And this is the problem that when we have to chase the score (against teams stronger than the Lions !!) in 90% of the cases we get beaten
It's just my thought
Greetings from Italy
GPG

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PhantomII's picture

September 26, 2021 at 06:02 am

Pretty hard to even play hero ball with our mediocre WR group. A lot of teams have much better. I see ML is keeping that rotation very small also. They perform when they are given opportunity. Cover 2 eliminated MVS threat, doubled Adams most of the time and Lazard a non factor. If Sf shuts down the run and ML has learned nothing from SF previously nor the Bucs and does not put Dillon and AJ on the field at the same time....I don't think we win with the revamped OL, especially with Jenkins out. Gonna have to establish running the ROCK or we get blown out again. The way to run against the Bucs and SF is strait at them, not running sideways and letting their elite lateral quickness at ILB stop it. Until we have that type of beef on the OL, we will struggle mightily against these type of teams. The other way is elite OL pass blocking and WR's who get open immediately and we don't have enough of those either.

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Swisch's picture

September 26, 2021 at 01:25 pm

I like our wide receivers, and our other pass catchers, and think the challenge is to scheme them open.
It seems hard for even the best wide receivers to consistently get much separation in the NFL against good cornerbacks.
This is a great opportunity for LaFleur/Hackett to demonstrate their creativity with pre-snap motions and post-snap misdirections; plus bunch formations to both bolster the run and get pass catchers open; and generally to spread the field horizontally to create gaps in between.
It's also a great opportunity for Aaron Rodgers to hone his craft of quarterback by executing this offense with unpredictability and precision.
By the way, I'm all for taking an occasional shot downfield vertically -- but let's see if Rodgers also has the mastery to move the chains on a consistent basis, even if we get behind a couple of touchdowns.
If we're still down midway through the fourth quarter, it may be time for Rodgers to open things up -- but still remember the guys other than Davante, and mix in a draw play here and there.
I'm hoping the Packers show up in the Bay Area with some surprisingly physical play on both sides of the football, but I also hope we're in the game as much mentally to also outsmart the 49ers to victory.
Viva Italia!
USA, USA, USA!
GPG!

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NickPerry's picture

September 26, 2021 at 06:30 am

I have several "Hopes" in this game which I imagine are entirely possible, ESPECIALLY when you consider where Barry last coached...

On Defense...

1) First and foremost let Alexander FOLLOW Debo Samuel. In the slot, wide right, wide left, I don't care where Samuel lines up. I'd like to see Alexander follow him EVERYWHERE. I don't give a damn how good Samuel is or what he's done so far this year. He hasn't played anyone like Alexander. Jarie would SHUT his ass down!

2) MORE Slaton and Heflin, much, MUCH, less of Lowry and Lancaster. Look, I appreciate the effort Lancaster especially gives. The problem is he's just not very good and isn't getting better. Keeping Lowry is truly a mystery to me given the Packers cap. It just shows how desperate they are for D-Linemen. I've been a huge Gute supporter, BUT he's really dropped the ball on the D-Line.

3) No Kevin King outside...EVER! I mean how much more does MLF and Barry need to see? It's not working, hasn't worked, and isn't going to work. If you have to play him, line him up inside and help with Kittle when he's in the slot.

On Offense...

1) Run, run, & run some more. The 49ers are one of the worst teams against the run and they've played the Lions and Eagles. With one of the starting ILB out (Greenlaw) the Packers should be able to move the ball on the ground. Get Dillon carries. AJ is one of those who get better the more he gets the ball as we saw against Tennessee last year.

2) Get rid of the ball QUICKLY. Rodgers can't forgo the easy completion and hold the ball. Maybe once the ground game is chewing up the 49ers defense, can Rodgers move a little and take the deep shot. But IMO the Packers can win this game if it's death by a bunch of small paper cuts, opposed to the one big slice.

3) Speaking of paper cuts, I'd like to see a little more Randell Cobb, especially on 2nd or 3rd and short. Cobb was excellent last week picking up 2 first downs. I'd also like to see a little bit of Amari Rodgers. A jet sweep here, some misdirection there, it's time to get the kid the ball in his hands and let him create. BTW... What happened to the MVS we saw in the NFCCG? That game we saw a MVS who wasn't just bombs away/. I'd love to see him catch a slant or crosser with a step on his defender and watch him run.

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ImaPayne's picture

September 26, 2021 at 08:45 am

Hey this is being touted as a possible sb team, playoff team, all kind of weapons,rodgers, bla bla,bla

If the above is right they should easily handle the 9ers. Who said this was going to be easy. I say the real team shows itself tonight. It is what it is...................................

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PatrickGB's picture

September 26, 2021 at 09:46 am

Joe Barry said in a recent interview that he doesn’t mind giving up five yards a play to the run if the defensive players don’t give up a big completion in the air.So if the Packers are only getting four yards a play on the run I can’t see Rodgers being patient enough to stick with it. Don’t get me wrong, I want him to stick with that game plan if it’s working. But the sight of a weak secondary might be too much to ignore. Sadly, his offensive line might not give him entire to do so. Then he gets sacked while waiting for the big play to unfold.

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sohankhan's picture

September 26, 2021 at 10:48 am

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BAMABADGER's picture

September 26, 2021 at 01:16 pm

I hope Love is prepared to play.

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