What to watch in Packers vs 49ers: Here comes the cavalry...

The Packers take on the 49ers at Lambeau Field for a place in the NFC Championship Game, with a host of big-name players returning to help the cause.

Here comes the cavalry...

It all seems to be coming together at the right time for the Packers.

Missing countless star players for much of the year, Green Bay overcame a litany of injury issues and still locked up the NFC’s number one seed with time to spare. Now, help is on the way just in time for the playoffs.

Green Bay is expected to have the services of Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith available, and their presence should add quality, if limited snaps to a defense which has been so resourceful throughout the season. Whitney Mercilus may even complete a miraculous comeback from a torn bicep and provide another pass rusher for Green Bay’s defensive co-ordinator, Joe Barry to unleash.

Billy Turner and Josh Myers will return and take their places on the offensive line, and there’s still a chance David Bakhtiari plays on Sunday night as well.

The final piece? Aaron Rodgers’ trusty sidekick Randall Cobb back in the lineup to provide another weapon for the soon-to-be back-to-back MVP to throw to. What an incredibly special moment it will be for Cobb to take the field in a Packers playoff game for the first time since 2016.

The big question for all of the Packers’ returning players is just how much they will play.

Alexander and Smith should be able to slot into a rotational role with relative ease, but more consistency and cohesion is generally required on the offense line. Will Bakhtiari play at all if he can’t play the entire game?

It appears Marquez Valdes-Scantling is unlikely to suit up in the Divisional round, with the speedy receiver listed as ‘doubtful’ on the final Green Bay injury report, but the Packers are well-stocked to beat the 49ers on Saturday and make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Green Bay's cornerback rotation

Joe Barry is fond of the saying “you can’t have enough good corners”. He’s not wrong, and the return of Jaire Alexander has now left Barry with the type of headache he would want to have.

Alexander’s absence paved the way for the signing of Rasul (or as Aaron Rodgers would say: Rasuuuuuuuuuuuuuul) Douglas, and the former Cardinals practice squad member has proceeded to establish himself as a legitimate playmaker for the Packers.

With Eric Stokes enjoying a tremendous rookie season alongside Douglas, Barry must now figure out where Alexander fits in to the rotation.

Chandon Sullivan stands out as the obvious candidate to lose snaps, but will the Packers’ coaching staff be happy to throw Jaire into the slot coming off his shoulder injury, where more tackling is likely to be required?

The Packers now have three strong cornerbacks at their disposal, and it will be fascinating to see how Barry decides to mix and match against the 49ers.

Feed Davante

Davante Adams is the best receiver in the NFL and getting him involved early and often is important in any game, but even more so on Saturday night.

The 49ers have no-one who can cope with Adams one-on-one, and have been arguably the worst team in the NFL when deploying man coverage this season.

In the week three matchup between Green Bay and San Fran, Adams feasted to the tune of 12 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown.

Of course, the Niners will undoubtedly roll coverage towards Adams in an attempt to keep him in check, but very few teams have been able to slow number 17 down this year even when giving him extra attention.

Saturday night’s game presents a prime set of circumstances for Rodgers and Adams to take over and put up some big numbers.

Control Deebo

The endless discourse around Deebo Samuel has grown somewhat tiresome, but there’s no doubt he is a supremely talented football player and represents a genuine threat to the Packers.

With the 49ers placing such a heavy emphasis on the run game, the self-dubbed ‘wideback’ Samuel as well as the more conventional running back Elijah Mitchell will shoulder most of the responsibility for moving San Francisco’s offense up and down the field.

The Packers didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher until late in the regular season, but fans of the green and gold are no doubt scarred from the 2019 NFC Championship Game, when Kyle Shanahan’s team steamrolled Mike Pettine’s defense, running 42 times (FORTY-TWO!) at a clip of 6.8 yards per carry.

If Green Bay can vanquish those ghosts and limit explosive plays from Samuel and Mitchell, the task of beating San Francisco should get considerably easier.

Make Garoppolo win the game

The 49ers completely outplayed the Dallas Cowboys last week, and should have cruised to victory rather than sweating out a bizarre finish to the game.

Jimmy Garoppolo was the only thing that kept them from a comfortable win.

The Niners’ QB is the worst passer left in the playoffs, and the Packers must take advantage of that.

Already a limited quarterback, the mistake-prone Jimmy G is also dealing with multiple injuries to his throwing hand and shoulder, and will attempt to operate at a frigid Lambeau Field.

The key for Green Bay is to get ahead by multiple scores (easier said than done) and make the 49ers throw the ball. A fast start on offense, something which has escaped the Packers for most of the season, would be very much welcome on Saturday night.

Stopping the run will also be crucial to get the Niners in long down-and-distance situations and allowing the Packers’ pass rushers to tee off.

If the 49ers are forced to put the game in Garoppolo’s hands, the Packers will be just fine.

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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

7 points

Comments (41)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jannes bjornson's picture

January 21, 2022 at 03:29 pm

Just seeing Yiadom on the cut list brings a smile to my face.

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jurp's picture

January 21, 2022 at 04:18 pm

I don't think we can count on Garappolo playing the entire game; I'm expecting see quite of bit of Lance, especially if they have a hard time running, and wouldn't be surprised to see him starting. Lance and Samuel in the backfield would be a good look for them.

I read a British analyst who reports on the NFL each week say that Samuel is the best WR in the NFL. Damn near spit my coffee onto my laptop. Really? Adams a unanimous All Pro and Samuel's better? GTFOH. Those Brits, always such funny people. This guy obviously knows shit about his topic - he should stick to cricket or soccer.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:04 pm

He probably thought that WR meant Willing Rusher.

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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:00 pm

Having watched a fair amount of the NFL in Europe, just be happy that the guy didn’t describe him as a wing back.

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dobber's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:46 pm

The Niners do like to use Lance near the goal line. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get snaps in that scenario, but it doesn't sound like Lance took many reps with the 1s this week.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:09 pm

I'll take a greenhorn at QB in a high pressure game any day.

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Blood-McNally's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:19 pm

Yiadom is the worst cover corner back I ever recall being on the Packers team. If he tried to cover his mouth and nose with a mask to go into a restaurant, there is a 50 percent chance he would miss or drop the mask.

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Blood-McNally's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:19 am

deleted

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dobber's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:24 am

I still see images of Ahmad Carroll 5 yards behind and chasing a Bears receiver and waving his arms over his head like he's being attacked by a swarm of bees.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 21, 2022 at 04:27 pm

Please excuse my ignorance. I did not hear that Alexander has been activated. If so that’s great! I hope that they don’t have him running into concrete walls~

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:31 pm

You must be very blissful (I've heard ignorance is bliss 😊)

Jaire was activated a few days back.

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stockholder's picture

January 21, 2022 at 04:34 pm

Can I just hear one of these guys come out and SAY, "We're gonna win the game. I guarantee it".

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ricky's picture

January 21, 2022 at 04:46 pm

The Packers cut Keke, who was quickly signed by the Texans. The only comment from LaFleur was sometimes there are some difficult decisions. The guy had flashes, and was still under a rookie contract for two more years after this season. There was no player less valuable than a rotational pass rusher? Seems like there is more to the story.

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Coldworld's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:04 pm

Being picked up on waivers for next year doesn’t involve much risk since he won’t be getting paid for a while, will go on a 90 man. The team can evaluate him after the season, maybe he stays and maybe not. Perhaps what happens will lead to some insight.

1 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:35 pm

Before being placed on COVID reserve list, Keke had not played for "personal" reasons. The cut was probably for those "personal" reasons.

Bruce Arians will tolerate any level of criminal activity if it will help him win games. (Brown was released only because he would not play, not because of his "personal" issues).

MLF is not Bruce Arians. Not saying that Keke had indulged in any criminal activity, but he may have indulged in activities that Packers' consider to be unbecoming of an upstanding citizen.

1 points
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packer132's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:49 pm

Wrong: Keke has one year left on his rookie deal. Early comments have been that Keke had a disagreement with Packer coaches, so could be an attitude issue. Yes, more to the story that will come out.

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baldski's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:54 pm

Montravius Adams playing for the Steelers. Keke to the Texans. Please tell me why we gave up on Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward also.

-3 points
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Houndog's picture

January 22, 2022 at 06:55 am

Baldski,
Playing for the Steelers or Texans right now is not necessarily a big vote of confidence for either player, but to answer your question:
Why we gave up on Micah Hyde and Casey Hayward?
It's simple: Ted Thompson!

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 22, 2022 at 09:59 am

Would you have offered more money to keep Montravious after his contract expired? I was hoping to get him on a vet minimum for camp, but that was my limit on what I think he had earned. He got more. At some point potential unrealized is too costly to retain.

Hyde and Hayward were under a previous regime and allegedly decisions made by Russ Ball. I’m not really sure if the relevance at this point. Hyde was a failure to identify talent potentially as well, but not by a current coach or GM. He got paid and has earned it. I suppose you could say a reverse Campbell or Douglas. Kudos to the pro scouts involved in all 3 of those. Sadly one was not ours.

Hayward is less clear, he’d been injured and up and down. Sometimes that happens. Projections are inherently a gamble. Either way, Irrelevant now.

0 points
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MarkinMadison's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:01 pm

Ja and Bakh are both listed as questionable on today's injury report. MVS is doubtful. Ja was LP all week, Bakh was DNP on Tuesday and Thursday. If I had to bet on it, I'd say we see Ja but not the other two.

On the bright side, Turner was FP all week, and Myers isn't even on the injury report anymore. I get that people have filled in well but getting 2/5 preferred starters back is huge. If Bakh is struggling it may be better to wait. We'll see what they do.

On the other side of the ledger, Jimmy G was listed as FP both Wednesday and Thursday. Hard to say what is smoke and what is fire at this point.

The only place I need to see the talking happening is on the field. And I don't need words. I just need Ws.

4 points
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mjbrogno's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:04 pm

I’ve been a little nervous all week until this morning. I watched the week three matchup again and I’m confident that the Pack will win tomorrow. Yes, the entitlement team is playing better now than back in week three. We are better as well and getting back key additions on both sides of the ball is a huge bonus. I’m sure the Packers are tired of hearing how physical the 49ers play the game. I’m glad the game is just a day away. Remember, #10 will definitely give us the opportunities to take advantage of and the Packers will cash them in with a victory GoPack Go!!!

7 points
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relleum61's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:34 pm

Ditto, all I want is the W. That said, on D, I hope to see the Packers play the run first. If we stuff the 49ers run, we win. After that, stuff Samuel and Kittle in the pass game. I am more afraid of Kittle than Samuel because GB defenses have allowed TE's to have their way with us for the past 20 or so years. I would really like our D to watch tape from the 1995 Division game and review how the Packers abused Brent Jones. I would love to see that lesson applied on Kittle. After that...let the Calvary take over... https://twitter.com/herooine/status/1481697140493754375

2 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

January 21, 2022 at 07:03 pm

I honestly don't know how an open-air representation of the crucifixion of Jesus helps anything here, but if it brings you comfort it's all good, I guess.

4 points
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NWPackersfan's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:42 pm

I'm so excited about this game and i keep thinking about the Titans game back in 2020 when they said how bad our run defense was...
Remember how that turned out?
Now it's all about Deebo Samuels and Mitchell.
History tells another story and for several of these Packers this might be their last chance to go to a Super Bowl.
They will be out there doing what they do better than ever in this game.
12/27/2020 Tennessee Titans 14 @ Green Bay Packers 40 W
You can replace Titans with 49ers...
Go Pack Go!!!!!

5 points
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Cheesey51's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:52 pm

Alexander covers Debo and our all pro MLB Campbell covers Kittle and Jimmy G is SOL
I want a Packer Win & I want it remembered!!!
Play Packer Football, Crisp/Sure Tackling/Sure Gap assignment's and no letup and the Packers Win, ALL Gas No Brake
GPG

2 points
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Cubbygold's picture

January 21, 2022 at 05:57 pm

Rodgers last game at Lambeau? A loss to Jimmy G? I don't think so.

For those who are nervous... Vegas has GB as the most likely team to win this weekend. It's never guaranteed, but this is about as good as it gets in the playoffs.

MLF downs Shanahan, 31-17

7 points
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Blood-McNally's picture

January 21, 2022 at 06:51 pm

I love football, but once in a while coaches make statements that are illogical even though most of us do understand their intent. For example I will repeat the Joe Barry quote that Mark included in his article:

"Joe Barry is fond of the saying “you can’t have enough good corners”. He’s not wrong..." I think we all know the intent of such a statement, but if we had 17 good corner backs on the team, that is just too many and doesn't make sense. So in reality, you can certainly have too many good corner backs on the team.

I guess it's just one of those statements that we all see used periodically by coaches and just live with it. I suppose grammatically, it comparable to TV announcers telling us that 85 percent of the plays are "Great" and when there is truly a play that stands above the rest, the use of the word "Great" has lost its impact.

I know this is just kind of crappy post, but on the eve of an exciting playoff game, I guess I'm just farting around. Hope we win big tomorrow.

-4 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:14 am

You are correct in terms of the literal meaning and implications, but I think you accept that, semantics aside, there’s truth to the statement if limited by context implied but not expressed. As coach speak goes, I’ve seen far worse. Smile, be happy, and when our D swarms the 49ers all night, then perhaps Barry gets a break?

1 points
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jurp's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:22 am

I think you're missing the "unsaid but logical" part of the statement - if you add "in your cornerback room" at the end of the sentence it makes more sense.

Of course, it's still nonsense, because what team intentionally says "You know, I think we have enough good cornerbacks on the roster, so let's go out and get a crappy one!" And then it trades for Yiadom. Oh, wait...

0 points
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barutanseijin's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:16 pm

What to watch: the hot air escaping from the Niners. This team played Dallas in the most highly rated TV broadcast, stumbled to a victory by default against an incompetent foe and now they’re an unstoppable juggernaut according to a hyperventilating media. Natch! They went 17-0 during the regular season.

What’s that you say? They lost? How many games? Against whom? Oh.

These guys are fallible. Just ask the Seahawks; they beat ‘em twice. Or the Packers. Speaking of Seattle, the mighty Niners turned the ball over 3x in their game at Seattle. Twice in forty-ish weather in their loss in Nashville. I wonder how they’ll do in even harsher weather outdoors in GB.

5 points
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Bure9620's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:33 pm

Jaire back is MASSiVE. We have one hell of a secondary now and I doubt Shannahan tests it.. He will not let Jimmy throw much against this secondary in this weather. LOTS of Mitchell and Samuel running......If we win the LOS, we win this game....

1 points
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Christian Roussel's picture

January 21, 2022 at 08:53 pm

Chandon Sullivan losing snaps is not a bad thing at all.

5 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 21, 2022 at 09:30 pm

Why isn’t/wasn’t David Moore activated—-seriously??
…and what appears to be the greatest/fastest recovery from concussion protocol (Bosa) in the history of modern medicine—-what a joke! It was just a headache I guess?

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:08 am

I have to admit, I was wondering as the window closed to elevate at 4pm eastern, then someone pointed out that that window does not apply to protected PS players.

A protected PS player can be elevated at any point up to 90 minutes before kick off. We protected 4, a maximum of 2 can be activated (and elevations in the playoffs does not force waivers after the game, even if they have prior elevations).

We protected a K, 2 DL and Moore. We are extremely likely to elevate a DL, simply due to numbers after releasing Kefflin and Keke. Anderson is good against the run and is the most likely of the two I believe. Moore would seem to be likely to be the other one.

Long story short, we are still likely to play Moore.

2 points
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10thArmored's picture

January 21, 2022 at 11:03 pm

I am so nervous about Pack run D.....I want to feel like we will be keying on run game but I doubt we play a heavy box. Another nightmare rushing game by SF against Packers? I hope not!!

0 points
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Houndog's picture

January 22, 2022 at 07:01 am

markoldacres,
"there’s still a chance David Bakhtiari plays on Sunday night".
Any chance at all that he plays on Saturday?
Sorry man.

3 points
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ReaganRulz's picture

January 22, 2022 at 08:17 am

This is the playoffs and what every player plays for. If Alexander’s shoulder is fine, he needs to play where we need him even if it is in the slot. Kittle and Aiyuk have been money and we need extra speed to patrol that area.

I’m also hoping that Barry’s knowledge and experience with the Rams will help scheme a good plan against his former division rival.

GPG!!

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:18 am

I want a player with full shoulder strength as my primary match up on a TE. It’s not always about willingness but the best way to use your players in their current condition.

2 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

January 22, 2022 at 05:21 pm

Coldwell,
Agreed! Look at King and his shoulder over the years. I'm concerned about Jaire and his shoulder. Makes sense to play him at Star position but it would really expose him to very physical conditions. Going to be really watching these injured players and how often on field and how they perform.

1 points
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dobber's picture

January 22, 2022 at 10:45 am

The Packers haven't been a team to shadow receivers, so it will be interesting to see how the Niners move Kittle around to get him favorable matchups...probably on a LB.

Good point on Barry's experience v. SF with the Rams, Reaganrulz. Hopefully it plays out before our eyes.

0 points
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Tundraboy's picture

January 22, 2022 at 01:10 pm

It's great that so many players have come back. Almost seems too perfect.

But what I want to see most of all tonight, is to see them play over their heads, start to finish! Makes me think back to what is now the early games playing the niners Magic, Favre . The days that nobody expected us to win , and we came out swinging.

0 points
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