Five 49ers to Watch Against the Packers

Jose Luis Sanchez III

A trip to Miami to play in the Super Bowl is right within the grasp of the San Francisco 49ers. However, they must first take care of business at home when they host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship at Levi's Stadium.

This game will be a rematch of week 12 when the 49ers completely demolished the Packers in front of the entire nation. Green Bay will look to make amends for their embarrassing performance. What better way to exact revenge on the 49ers than by costing them a trip to the Super Bowl in front of their home crowd.

In order to avoid their dreams being crushed, there are some key players of the 49ers who will need to have a top-notch performance. With that said: Here are five 49ers to watch against the Packers.

Emmanuel Moseley

With the second consecutive benching of Ahkello Witherspoon, it’s more than likely that Emmanuel Moseley will get the start on Sunday. It makes his presence against the Packers one to watch since he will get matched up with Davante Adams. The first go-around between these two teams was a walk in the park for the 49ers’ defense.

However, lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice. Moseley is sure to get picked on by Aaron Rodgers with Adams lined up against him. He will need to be prepared and disciplined when guarding Admas, who has one of the best releases in the league. The 49ers do not press the receiver that often, but it might be worth considering with Adams.

Even if Moseley has to play off in a cover-3, Adams is still capable of beating it. He just knows how to manipulate a defender in his coverage to create a soft spot. Rodgers will hardly, if at all test Sherman. That makes the performance of Moseley in Sunday’s high stakes game a critical one.

Jimmy Garoppolo

It’s essentially a lock that Jimmy Garoppolo will always be a 49er to watch in the playoffs. His performance can mean the difference of winning or losing for the team. Now his performance didn’t have that much of an impact in the win against the Vikings. It was all due to the defense and running game, with a few moments from Garoppolo. 

That method has been successful during the regular season, but it does not the 49ers should keep relying on it. If the defense cannot keep the Packers in check when they’re offense, then all eyes will be on Garoppolo to shoulder the burden. Had that been the case in Saturday’s game, then it is unlikely he is able to carry the offense.

I fully expect Garoppolo to clean up his act heading into the biggest game of his career. There’s a chance that he could just be called upon in certain moments of the game. Still, he needs to be ready at all times and should be delivering the ball with ease. At the very least, taking care of the football is too priority.

Mike McGlinchey/Joe Staley

One of the ways that Garoppolo can stay away from costly turnovers is with sound pass protection. That is why offensive tackles Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley are key players to ensuring that Garoppolo remains clean. These two players will have the challenge of blocking one of the top edge rushing duos in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Against the Seattle Seahawks, this duo made Russell Wilson’s night troublesome. 

The pressure that both of the Smiths generated was felt all game and essentially ended any hope of a comeback on Seattle’s final offensive series. The two Smiths combined for 25.5 sacks in the regular season and show no signs of stopping there. That much was evident when they were terrorizing Wilson for all four quarters on Sunday. McGlinchey and Staley will need to have one a strong performance and avoid costly mistakes.

Luckily for them, they were warmed up for this matchup when they had to block Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter. Other than one poor first step by McGlinchey, the two tackles held impressively against them. There shouldn’t be much of a surprise for them when they have to go up against the pair of Smith’s.

George Kittle

One of the unstoppable forces when these two teams first met in week 12 was George Kittle. He put up six catches for 129-yards and a touchdown. What’s most impressive is that he put up those numbers in his first game back from a fractured ankle. In fact, his ankle wasn’t fully healed when he returned, which is just insane with the performance he put up. 

Sunday is sure to be different for the Green Bay defense. The point of emphasis for them will likely be Kittle since he is the best receiver and a beast of a blocker. Keeping him in check will make amends from the week 12 rampage he went on. That is why he is a player of interest for this game. Kittle does not need a big receiving day to make an impact. His presence alone as a threat is sufficient like how it was against the Vikings. 

They followed him all over the formation, refusing to allow him to gash them. Their plan worked, only except they allowed the rest of the offensive players to hurt them. Kittle can get schemed up and erased productive wise, but he will still have a major impact. That’ll just make Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders’ jobs much easier having to find soft spots in the defense. 

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