NFC Championship Preview: San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers

John Lepore | January 19th, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers will host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at 6:40pm ET this Sunday. It will be a battle of the top two seeds in the NFC. They have met six times in the playoffs, the last being in 2012 when Colin Kaepernick was celebrating a 45-31 Niners win. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each team.

San Francisco 49ers

Limit Aaron Rodgers – The last time these two teams met the Niners held Rodgers to 104 passing yards and sacked him five times. That likely won’t happen again, but the Packers are 1-2 in games where Rodgers fails to throw for 200 yards. He isn’t the rushing threat he used to be as he managed only 183 yards on the ground which is the fewest in a full season in over a decade. He also made only nine first downs which are also the fewest since he took over as the starting quarterback in 2008. The Niners will need to stop Rodgers’s arm and not worry about his legs as much.

Run the Ball – The 49ers were second in the National Football League in rushing attempts and yards, only behind the Baltimore Ravens. Tevin Coleman was back in full force for the Divisional Round matchup against the Minnesota Vikings running the ball 22 times for 105 yards. He is currently banged up with an ankle injury and is questionable, but the Niners have others in the backfield to step up. Raheem Mostert and Matt Breida will have to pick up the slack if Coleman can’t go. That duo combined for 1,395 yards rushing and nine TDs during the regular season averaging 5.37 YPC.

Don’t Give up the Ball – San Francisco coughed the ball up 23 times this season. Luckily for them, their defense made up for it, but you are less likely to survive those mistakes in the playoffs, just ask the Saints. The Packers have been very good at taking the ball away this year with 17 picks and eight forced fumbles. The Niners will need to protect the ball to avoid giving Rodgers more than his share of time on the field. If not, they’re just asking for trouble.

Green Bay Packers

Get Davante Room – Adams and Rodgers go hand in hand. In the three games this season when Adams has averaged fewer than nine yards per catch, the Packers are 1-2. He needs to be able to make plays in space. It will certainly be an interesting one-on-one matchup to watch for Sunday when he goes up against Richard Sherman. Davante just needs to win some of those battles off the line and get the separation.

Pound Aaron Jones – Jones has had over 20 carries the past three games and has averaged 105 yards. The Packers will need to keep the defensive line of San Francisco honest to stop them from teeing off on Aaron Rodgers. Pounding the ball early will easily open up play-action and lead to my previous key in getting Adams some space.

Stop the Run – The Packers will need to improve on their bottom-10 rushing defense in this one. Kyle Shanahan will be planning to run the ball and keep Rodgers and company off the field. The Packers gave up nearly 2,000 yards on the ground this season along with 15 rushing TDs. Even if the Niners are without Coleman, Matt LaFleur needs to find a way to stop Mostert and Breida.

Prediction: Packers 24-20

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