3 Matchups to Watch for the 49ers Against the Packers
Stop me if you have heard this before, but the San Francisco 49ers are going to be on primetime again this weekend. This time the 49ers will make their return to Sunday night football on NBC for the first time since the debut season of Levi's Stadium.
That just shows how far the 49ers have come since falling off from the Jim Harbaugh era. Sunday night will have the 49ers take on the Packers in a bit of a high stakes matchup. Mainly because of playoff seeding implications. As great as the 49ers have been this season, the gap between them and the rest of the NFC is not far.
The Packers are one of the best teams in the league and are coming off of a bye to take on the 49ers. The amount of film watched is practically going to have them inside the head of the 49ers. That is why these three matchups to watch are key to the 49ers against the Packers.
Davante Adams vs 49ers’ secondary
The 49ers’ secondary has not faced an elite wide receiver since facing the Cleveland Browns on Monday night football. This Sunday night they will have the task of guarding against star receiver Davante Adams. Don’t let his stats fool you. Adams is still one of the best wideouts in the league.
Even Richard Sherman will have issues covering him, especially with an elite quarterback throwing to him. My guess is that the Packers will try to get him matched up on Ahkello Witherspoon to test him out. Witherspoon is expected to make his first start since suffering an ankle injury in week three. It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to show rust.
Regardless, Adams is a difficult receiver to guard against for anyone on the defense. It’s not just his outside threat, but in the slot as well. That is why the entire secondary must be ready to see their share of matchups with Adams. It’ll be a fun one to watch, but hopefully not too fun for the Packers. Taking Adams out of the game will limit the Packers’ offense to Aaron Jones and company.
Aaron Jones vs 49ers’ linebacker
Panthers' running back Christian McCaffrey has been having an astronomical season, but believe it or not Packers' running back Aaron Jones isn't far off. At least, in terms of scoring touchdowns. Jones is right behind McCaffrey in total touchdowns with 14. The Packers love to rely on Jones in various situations and his versatility is why.
Jones is a coverage nightmare, which explains why he is so lethal in the passing game. That is where he is most dangerous. The 49ers' linebackers have been tested all season against elite receiving backs. They have already faced McCaffrey, so guarding against Jones should be very familiar to them.
Taking away Davante Adams out of the offense means that Jones will carry the burden. The linebackers have to be ready and take the proper angles of pursuit as Robert Saleh constantly preaches. The Packers' offense is like the 49ers. They do not have a bunch of stars, but a good spread of solid players.
Packers offensive line vs. 49ers defensive line
How does a defense slow down one of the best quarterbacks of all-time? By hammering him on every snap. The pass rush of the 49ers has an enormous responsibility this game. Allowing Aaron Rodgers ample time in the pocket is just begging the Packers to win the game. It isn't just allowing him the free time, which doesn't seem likely since the 49ers' are too talented at pass rush.
It is about completing the play to the finish. Rodgers is a master manipulator of the pocket. How he dances back there is truly a work of art. It just completely messes with how the pass rushers want to come off their offensive lineman. He is even capable of rolling out of the pocket to utilize the scramble drill. That is what supports Rodgers' greatness.
He isn't the most athletic runner like a Lamar Jackson, but he can still hurt a defense with his legs. Either by dancing around in the backfield or even tucking the ball and run. The pass rush has to get there fast and early so that Rodgers is uncomfortable for the entire game. The last thing they want is for him to get a rhythm going to the point where they can't do anything.