The San Francisco 49ers do not have the luxury of easing into the 2012 season. First up on the schedule is the Green Bay Packers in the not-so-friendly confines of Lambeau Field where the 49ers have not won in eight games. The Packers are coached by Mike McCarthy who has won his past five season openers. But due to all these points, it’s actually the Packers that should be worried.
Green Bay has multiple Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball, yet it’s their offense that steals the show. Led by former California Bear Aaron Rodgers, whom the 49ers passed on to take Alex Smith, the Packers are an offensive juggernaut. Rodgers embodies the definition of an elite NFL quarterback and has developed into what some call the best all-around quarterback ever.
There is no throw on the field he can’t make, he has the rare combination of both power and pinpoint accuracy, and he tops it all off with a high football IQ. He is athletic and knows when to run and when to create more time for himself in the pocket. To make matters worse, he is surrounded by high-caliber talent, so when that talent is clicking it makes their offense nearly impossible to stop. The only way to combat all of this is through suffocating pressure, which is exactly what the 49er defense will bring to the field on Sunday.
San Francisco’s run defense last year was flat-out dominant. If they continue their stingy play then they will turn Green Bay into a one-dimensional team, allowing the defenders to pin back their ears and go after Rodgers. Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith will play key roles in the outcome of the game, as it will fall on their shoulders to put Rodgers on his back. If they can keep Rodgers uncomfortable, then it will be a long day for the home team. On the flip side, if Rodgers gets in a grove, then the 49ers will have no chance of winning the game.
The Packers defense is known more for big plays, and for bending but not breaking, so the 49ers should be able to move the ball against Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and the rest of the Green Bay defense. The 49ers offensive game plan will be simple — control the clock. Keep Rodgers off the field by way of clock-consuming drives. This, of course, is dependent on the game being close, so the San Francisco defense needs to keep the game close enough to allow the 49ers running game to take its toll.
Despite all that is working against them, this match up is rather favorable to the 49ers. The Packers have all the pressure on them and will need to come out fast to prevent any doubt from creeping into the minds of both them and the fans. The Packers certainly have the edge offensively, but the 49ers have it defensively. The result will be an entertaining game and regardless of the outcome, it is just the first game of sixteen. However, for two teams that have shared a storied rivalry, any game can easily turn into a game that will be forever remembered.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.