Why the 49ers Will not be Overconfident in Their Rematch With the Packers
Jose Luis Sanchez III
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Week 12 was one of the San Francisco 49ers' strongest wins of the season. It wasn't just any ordinary win against any ordinary opponent. The 49ers beat down the Green Bay Packers 37-8 on Sunday night football in front of the entire nation. Now, the 49ers are set to face the Packers in the NFC championship game this Sunday.
Since the 49ers easily handled the Packers last time, overconfidence could come over the players. It's something that is seen in the NFL countless times in rematches when the initial matchup was a beat down. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan is keeping his team even-keeled with a four-word message.
“Don’t be that stupid." said Shanahan on taking the Packers for granted.
"That’s not real. This is about Sunday’s game. I could give a thousand stories of things like that, parts and plenty of games from my history that I’ve been a part of. The game before never matters like that. There’s four teams left and it’s four very, very good teams. It’s going to be a hard game for all of us. Also, our players, the type of guys they are, the way they’ve been all year, I’m not concerned about that. They’ll have to answer that question, I’m sure, a lot, but I don’t think that’ll be a worry for our players, which means it won’t be for me.”
There should be very little doubt that the message won't be received by the players. All season long Shanahan has set the standard of the team and the players have responded. It is the culture of accountability that Shanahan and his staff have created that trickles down to each and every player. Not to mention that veterans like Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Sanders, and Joe Staley will not let this team fall into a state of complacency.
To get a sense of exactly how the message sent by Shanahan was being received, I asked running back Raheem Mostert about what his head coach is doing to keep them level headed.
"He's basically telling us to expect a different game. We just got to play our ball and do the little things to get that win, which is what we're doing today."
In regards to Shanahan's "Don't be that stupid" comment, Mostert laughed and said "Yeah, don't be stupid and don't let your highs get too high and your lows too low."
It's all about a balance for this team, which is something many of the players have explained all season. If they get too serious, then they make the situation bigger than it is - forcing them to create pressure on themselves. If they get too loose, then they fall into the trap of complacency. The 49ers have done a phenomenal job of finding the middle ground of those two forces and Shanahan is a big part of why they are able to find it.
"He does a great job of understanding the importance of the game." Said center Ben Garland on Shanahan's message. "I don't think anybody is going to be thinking that they are a pushover. They have an incredible record, they have won like 14 games this year? They're doing great with the same record as us, so we're not going to take them easy or lightly. We know they are a great team and great on defense, so we are going to treat them that way."
From Mostert, to Garland. The message appears clear that finding a balance is the key. That just because they dominated the Packers does not mean they should be overlooked. A perfect example would be the Baltimore Ravens, who did not look prepared against the Tennessee Titans.
No matter which side of the ball it is, or which player you ask - there is a clear consensus that the 49ers are not feeling overconfident. They are just as motivated and hungry for this matchup as they were in week 12. If anything, the thirst for the W has grown exponentially knowing a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line. This team knows that the Packers would love nothing more than to exact revenge on them and ruin their dreams of a trip to Miami.
That is why this team is approaching this game like any other. It is the same approach that got them to this stage, so there isn't a need to switch anything up. They are focused and ready to show out for the faithful on Sunday.