Early Bird Breakdown Week 4: Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers

Hello everyone, welcome to Early Bird Breakdown. As is accustom on EBB, let’s start with last week’s recap!

The Recap:

Last week Green Bay welcomed another very skilled team to Lambeau in prime time, this time it was the Kansas City Chiefs. Like the Seattle game, Green Bay showed masterful execution on both sides of the ball, easily topping Kansas City and leading comfortably throughout. While Kansas City scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, this was well after Green Bay eased up on the gas. The final score was Green Bay over Kansas City 38-28 .

The defense for Green Bay shut down the running game for Kansas City, giving up only 75 yards rushing. They key has been back-to-back weeks of fundamental defense, where each defender has not over pursued and have also been making good form tackles.

Offensively, Aaron Rodgers has continued to look like an expert maestro orchestrating a perfect offense. His timing is perfect, his throws are surgical, and his command of snap count is incredible. He has been nearly flawless all season long and last week was no different.

The Breakdown: 

Packers’ offense vs 49ers’ defense: 

Historically, San Francisco’s defense has given Aaron Rodgers trouble in recent years, but that should all come to a crashing end Sunday. Why? Because San Francisco this offseason lost more talent than maybe any team has ever lost in one offseason. Pro Bowl players Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, and Patrick Willis are gone. Starting corner back Chris Culliver is no longer with the team. Adding to that they lost key backups Perrish Cox, who was their nickel corner, inside linebacker Chris Borland, and outside linebacker Dan Skuta. The only really good player left is inside linebacker Navarro Bowman.

So far this season, the stats line up with the expected cliff dive those losses would entail. The 49ers are 31st in points-per-game-allowed, giving up 31 points on average. In terms of yards, San Francisco is 25th overall and 28th against the pass, giving up 284 yards per game in the air. Rodgers should make quick work of this defense and take out some pent up frustration from being passed over years ago in the draft as well as a few brutal losses that the Packers would like to avenge.

If Rodgers can do this to a good defense…what’s he going to do this week?

While it looks unlikely Davante Adams will play, Eddie Lacy has been looking better this week and should be considered all systems go for this weekend. Expect a bigger game from him this week against a mostly-thin 49ers front seven. Also expect Randall Cobb and James Jones each to have big games against a pretty weak secondary.

Packers’ Defense vs 49ers’ offense: 

Remember when quarterback Colin Kaepernick used to be the Packers’ biggest nightmare? This defense sure does and they probably will be motivated to show Kaepernick up, and if he plays like he did last week it won’t take much effort to do so. Kaepernick looked abysmal last week, throwing four interceptions and only gaining 67 yards through the air. No, that’s not a typo, he was a solid chunk away from 100 yards throwing which is unheard of in this era.

He threw two nearly identical pick sixes on back to back drives

The crazy thing is that this is now closer to what Kaepernick has become than what he showed against the Packers in those playoff games. Every season since his first year he has progressively gotten worse as teams realized he could not handle pressure his legs couldn’t escape. Since his first season he has ranked near the bottom of the league in quarterback rating against pressure, and is last in the league this season. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers almost assuredly has a unique pressure package for Kaepernick this week. As long as Green Bay keeps containment so Kaepernick cannot scramble, he will force bad passes to the hands of the talented Packers’ secondary. Speaking of which, injured strong safety Morgan Burnett is expected back this week which should boost an already hot defense.

Outside of Kaepernick, the rest of the offense is also down for the same reason as the defense. Number one receiver Michael Crabtree is now in Oakland. Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati is also out of town, along with running back Frank Gore and right tackle Anthony Davis. The losses of Iupati and Davis add even more difficulties for San Francisco which has struggled to give Kaepernick time before this season to reliably be comfortable in the pocket. This team overall lacks the weapons necessary to keep up in a fight with the Green Bay Packers.

The Weather:

Early forecast shows 74 degrees with no precipitation, a perfect day out in California.

The Game:

The 49ers are in a tailspin after losing back-to-back games badly, culminating in a 47-7 loss last week to the division rival Arizona Cardinals. The team looks lost offensively and defensively, where as the Packers right now are rolling on all cylinders. The Packers are on the road and San Francisco could be extra motivated, but how much does that matter with the talent discrepancy? Worst case scenario, this plays out like the Bears game week 1 where the Bears clearly were more energized but by the end of the game the raw talent differential plays out to a fairly easy Green Bay win. If Green Bay is as motivated as I think they’ll be to stick it to San Francisco this one could easily get out of hand early. Green Bay wins 41-20. 

Fantasy Advice:

Adams is out, so other than him any Packer this week could go off against a pretty leaky defense. Also the Packers defense could get a lot of points especially late in the game if Kaepernick puts too many floaters up into the hands of Packers players. James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Eddie Lacy are must starts.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University