At 3-0, the Packers are onto a spectacular start, and after defeating two strong teams in “revenge” games, another one is on the horizon. The San Francisco 49ers are next on the calendar after a couple rough weeks they seek redemption against the Packers.
And we all know what has happened between those two teams in recent years, but they both are extremely different this season. The Packers look like a powerhouse team to be feared, while the 49ers seem to be trending downward. That brings us to this weeks 3…2…1…
For those who haven’t been reading this series, every Saturday and sometimes Tuesday I will use this countdown system to preview the matchup. I will showcase 3 key matchups, make 2 bold predictions, and 1 key stat. So let’s get started.
3 KEY MATCHUPS
- BJ Raji vs. Daniel Kilgore
- The 49ers are a power running team at their core with Carlos Hyde showing some great potential. And the Packers have been good at stopping the run over the past few weeks, shutting down a power back in Marshawn Lynch and a slasher in Jamaal Charles. And it all started with the play of nose tackle BJ Raji. The big man has looked his best since 2010 and his dominance has translated to the way the run defense has held up. He needs to win his one-on-ones against a strong center in Kilgore for the Packer defense to hold up.
- Sam Shields vs. Torrey Smith
- This one is on the underrated side, but we as fans cannot forget that Colin Kaepernick has an absolute hose attached to his right shoulder. It’s not the most accurate and takes a while to get loose, but he can sling it. Torrey Smith was brought in to be a deep threat and to spread the field. And some of the drives can hinge on stopping him from getting over the top. Sam Shields, the best cover guy on the team will draw the responsibility for Smith and his speed can help this defense box in the 49er offense.
- Corey Linsley vs. Glenn Dorsey
- On the opposite spectrum of matchup number one, the 49ers have a good tackle of their own experiencing a career resurgence. Glenn Dorsey was seen as a sure thing coming out of LSU when he was drafted by Kansas City in 2008. But injuries and a poor system fit hurt him and he was seen as a borderline bust when he came to San Francisco in free agency last season. He is a strong man who can hold the point well, and he will meet Corey Linsley in a battle of brute strength to free up Eddie Lacy.
2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
- Colin Kaepernick runs for 50 yards but turns the ball over 4 times.
- Kaepernick struggled with turnovers last week and really has for a couple of years, and that won’t change this week. The Packers are looking good at forcing turnovers, and also do so at the most opportune times. After last week’s disaster, Kaepernick appears to be shaken and might have the yips. If that persists, look for at least two interceptions (by Casey Hayward and Damarious Randall) and two fumbles lost.
- Micah Hyde runs a punt back for a score.
- I predicted this a couple of weeks ago but with Ty Montgomery on a kickoff, but I stand by my predictions for special teams. Hyde always seems to be on the verge of breaking one when he chooses to return a punt, and this week will be the week he takes one to the house. San Francisco is nicked up which will affect their special teams in a negative way.
1 KEY STAT
- Yards per carry
- We have read at length about Carlos Hyde and the 49ers running game. We have also read about Kaepernick’s success running against Green Bay. The key problems that the team had against the 49ers in the past were the big plays that seemed to change the game completely. This week they need to hold the team to under 4 yards per carry. That means, to me, playing the same general defense as they did against Seattle, with one exception, and that is to contain Kaepernick to the pocket. You can’t let him outside. Offensively, look for a heavy dose of Lacy and Starks to control the clock and keep the threat of Kaepernick on the sidelines.
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.