NFC Championship Round Highs and Lows – San Francisco 49ers

Aaron was quite clear in his press conference Friday on 1/17/20 that the previous matchup in California went sour because of execution rather than a misaligned plan. Take one look at the box score and you can see that any plan would have failed when the team goes 1 for 15 on 3rd down attempts. On the road, quality teams have to make it a personal obligation to execute at a high level. There are a few ways to guarantee yourself out of a competition against top tier talent in the NFL; starting slow kills the game script, losing the turnover battle, and abysmal conversation rates on 3rd and 4th downs.

If you were to replay the 49ers game back on November 24th, you will notice Green Bay had lost the motivation immediately after a questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Davante Adams on the game’s first completion. The following 3 plays were a 0-yard run, an incomplete deep pass to MVS and then a sack fumble that 49ers recovered, giving them the ball at GB’s 2-yard line. Subsequently, it took one play for the 49er offense to put the Packers down early 7-0.

Green Bay’s defense doesn’t deserve any negativity for that horrible start and the 3 consecutive 3 & Out drives before the offense was stuffed on 4th & 1, at SF’s 28-yard line. With the game at 13-0, LaFleur exhibited poise and set his sights on keeping the Pack in striking distance and that 4th down conversion would’ve changed the landscape tremendously.

San Francisco would force 3 more punts before the half with Deebo Samuel taking a midslant 42 yards to push the game to 20-0 with just under a minute left. Green Bay’s lethargic attitude brought out the last punt of the half and after one George Kittle reception, San Fran kicked a field goal as time expired, giving them a 23-0 lead into half. Granted there are no moral victories in football but LaFleur had the plan to beat the 49ers and Mike Pettine showed with favorable time of possession and field position that he had executed his vision against Kyle Shanahan. Eventually, the plan was thrown out the window as the second half was tilted against the Packers’ plans.

Jimmy G is going to aim to attack the middle of the field with his slippery wide receivers like Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne. Kyle Shanahan is guaranteed to deploy multiple RBs to sustain fresh legs with an emphasis on disguising every motion and play as you will hear to nauseum on Sunday. All the moving around and confusion is sure to catch the Packers looking the wrong way at some point so it will be important for Green Bay to implement their similar strategy to high degree of execution. Most of it coming down to crisp routes and soft hands by the wide receivers. LaFleur’s family ties and friendships on San Francisco offer an interesting storyline in terms of understanding what the opponent is trying to accomplish along with leveraging tendencies they expect out of you.

All anyone can talk about is the beat down Green Bay suffered in California almost 2 months ago and how San Francisco is sure to win by multiple scores again. Guess again because The Boogeyman has been calm and collected all week with the pressure strongly on San Francisco. Aaron and the rest of the team are standing strong and confident after the Seattle victory which started to slip late but ugly gets it done and kept the Super Bowl aspirations alive.

High Expectations

Aaron Rodgers & Davante Adams

Rodgers is going to need to be superman to beat this 49er defense. Luckily, history suggests he is capable of keeping the Packers offense in the game. The San Fran defense swarms and attacks against both the run and pass. In those situations, Rodgers tends to rely on a stare down approach to Adams due to his route running ability. Adams success is downplayed when he faces Richard Sherman on the offensive right side. Coach LaFleur will surely look to find mismatches against the 49er defense who banks on their defensive line to produce pressure, allowing their coverage to gain an extra player. Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers have to be on their best game in order to win on Sunday. They’re capable if the cast of other receivers make the easy plays when presented. Aaron Rodgers was dialed in on Sunday against Seattle and the continuous chip building on this team’s shoulder is motivation enough to secure their trip to Miami. The duo combines for 7 catches for 105 yards and 1 TD where Rodgers goes on to throw for 220 yards total.

Aaron Jones

Jones has carried the Packer offense throughout the season and now he will be counted on for a high-volume workload. He is sure to see a larger carry count than the 13 he received in the earlier matchup. LaFleur made an effort after the game to state they should’ve got Aaron more involved in the passing game. Jamaal Williams tied Davante Adams for the team lead in receptions in the loss. I’m optimistic he’ll have a positive Sunday as Jones holds the lead dog role and a considered focus on involving him in the pass game.

Outlook

Nobody is giving this Packer team a chance and that is when Aaron Rodgers is at his best. As long as he is the QB1 of the Green Bay Packers and has a few competent weapons he is dangerous. Is this San Francisco defense impenetrable? Do we believe that game on November 24th dictates what happens here? My only concern is how dominant San Francisco looked over a quality Minnesota team. My brain is telling me Kirk Cousins stinks and Dalvin Cook only ended up with 9 carries. Green Bay gets to play spoiler with the whole world expecting them to lose and already envisioning Jimmy Garoppolo tearing up South Beach. In my opinion, the cliché answer is the game will be decided by the turnover battle, think Green Bay benefits from Rodgers’ experience versus the rather green Jimmy G.

Green Bay surprises everyone with a 23-21 win.

Maybe I am an overly biased cheese addict or maybe this MVP caliber QB needed a fresh coach and some veteran leaders on defense to propel this team to a NFC Championship

Go Pack Go!

Brandon