If you want bad memories, we’ve got them. The last time the Green Bay Packers met up with the San Francisco 49ers, it was something they would rather forget, but they are forced to remember it, and so they try to use it as motivation as the teams line up against each other at 4:25 PM ET at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
If Green Bay doesn’t stiffen itself up on the defensive side, they are going to get blown off the ball, just like they were in last year’s playoffs. In the pro football lines that have been made available by the folks at BetOnline, the Niners are laying some points as we go into this season-opening game:
San Francisco 49ers -5
Green Bay Packers +5
Over 47 Points -110
Under 47 Points -110
The Packer defense was humiliated, to say the least, after their encounter with the Niners in the divisional playoffs last season. Not only did they lose by two touchdowns (45-31), but they also surrendered 579 yards to San Francisco, including 181 yards on the ground from Colin Kaepernick, which set a record for an NFL quarterback. And all of this happened at Lambeau Field.
Now the Packers (the +200 underdog to win the game in the pro football lines at BetOnline) have to travel to the Bay Area for this one and are trying to use that playoff defeat as motivation, while at the same time endeavoring to prepare for the read option and other offensive variations that are engineered with such precision by Kaepernick and the Niners.
According to published reports, Green Bay’s defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, not only spent a portion of every pre-season practice devising ways to defend it, but also took a special trip to visit the Texas A&M coaching staff to get a chalk talk on it. Statistical analysis revealed that in the playoff loss, the Niners gained over nine yards per play when using the read option BEFORE there was any contact made. Clearly they had the Pack bamboozled.
Yes, they have made a special effort, but can there ever be enough time to be ready for these guys? It should be noted that even though these teams met in last year’s season opener (a 30-22 San Francisco victory), Kaepernick was not running the show at that time. At least Green Bay knows that this Niner team (-110 to score better than 27 points, according to BetOnline) doesn’t really have a menacing collection of wide receivers. Michael Crabtree could have been a vital cog in the drive to get over that final hump for San Francisco, but he ruptured his Achilles and will miss the whole season. Kaepernick does have Anquan Boldin, a former Pro Bowler who led the Baltimore Ravens in receiving last year, but there is no one else in the lineup who is going to make Dom Capers take any trips out of town to prepare for.
Aaron Rodgers has had the opposite problem in recent years. He has had a versatile collection of receivers (which will be without Greg Jennings this year), but he has had to put the ball in the air all the time because he had no one to run the ball. The Packers have tried to address that by making Eddie Lacy (from national champion Alabama) the 29th overall pick in the draft. Getting something going in the ground game could go a long way toward keeping some pressure off Rodgers, and that could loom important when you’re staring down sack master Aldon Smith on the other side of the line of scrimmage.