Clearly the San Francisco 49ers are not the same team that they were a few years ago. Since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII by a score of 34-31, the Forty-Niners are a shell of that former team. Besides 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, not many players remain from the team that had a dominating defense and a running game that dashed the playoff hopes of the Green Bay Packers in 2012 and 2013. In fact, the Green Bay Packers have lost four straight games against the Niners, with Kaepernick starting in three of these defeats.
Looking at the present team from afar, San Francisco can do a few things really well. The 49ers can run the ball, return kickoffs and punts, and they can still stop the run. Since there are no “cupcakes” in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers will have to be wary before they can chalk this game up as a win.
San Francisco currently ranks last in the NFL in points scored on offense and second to last in points allowed on defense. Kaepernick has completed 59 passes out of 91 attempts for 567 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. San Francisco head coach Jim Tomsula on September 29 stated that he “stands by Colin Kaepernick as the 49ers’ starting quarterback despite the poor performance against Arizona.”
On the other hand, should Kaepernick throw two interceptions early in the game like he did last week when he threw two picks in his first four attempts, then look for Tomsula to bench Kaepernick and go with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
San Francisco has been turning the ball over to the opposing team and currently ranks 30th in the turnover category at a minus 4. In other words, in the first three games of the season they have tended to “cough up” the ball. Green Bay will need to take advantage of these kinds of opportunistic turnovers to win on the road against this team.
San Francisco can still run the ball effectively. At the other end of the rankings, the 49ers are currently 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 148. It will be important to contain this aspect of the Forty-Niners offense, since it appears that San Francisco cannot pass the ball, given their rank of 30th with 172 passing yards per game.
49ers running back Carlos Hyde is a tough player to bring down. He has already accumulated 262 yards on the ground in 54 rush attempts for 2 TD’s. Therefore the Green Bay Packers defense needs to be wary of both Doctor Kaepernick and Mister Hyde.
Against a tough Arizona Cardinals defense during Week 3, Kaepernick rushed for 46 yards on 7 carries and Hyde had 51 yards on 15 carries, respectively. The point: Green Bay needs to keep one eye on Kaepernick, because he can still run like a Wisconsin Whitetail Deer and the other eye on Hyde, because he runs with power.
On the downside for the 49ers, two of their key offensive weapons, tight end Vernon Davis (knee) and running back Reggie Bush (calf) remain a bit banged up. Yet, even though these two major players are not 100% healthy, the Packers should take neither for granted. Clay Matthews and company will have their hands full trying to stop either one.
On the upside for the 49ers, both of these players have had big games in the past against the Packers. If they play in the game on Sunday, Vernon Davis can take it deep down the field and Bush has the speed to get around the end and the power to run between the tackles.
San Francisco has proved that they can stop the run, ranking 16th in this category. Given the “stingy” San Francisco run defense the Packers should be able to collectively rush for at least 100 yards on Sunday afternoon as long as they continue to split the snaps between Eddie Lacy, James Starks and possibly rookie Alonzo Harris–who looked pretty powerful in last week’s game against the Chiefs.
Finally, the Green Bay Packers need to be wary of the 49ers special teams play. Against the Arizona Cardinals during Week 3 San Francisco returned 1 punt for 37 yards and 4 kickoffs for 95 yards for a 23.8 yard average. The result is good field position. The Packers must not allow San Francisco to have excellent field position on Sunday. This is a golden rule when playing on the road.
If the Packers can contain Carlos Hyde and Colin Kaepernick, and keep Vernon Davis and Reggie Bush in check, the Green Bay Packers and their high octane offense will win this game by 12 points, since San Francisco is no longer one of the scariest teams the Packers will face this October. Looking at the team from afar it is safe to say that the 49ers’ “Gold Rush” is finally over.
Tomorrow’s game should be a “Green and Gold Rush.” Go Pack Go.——————