Last year it was the Giants in the NFCCG, this year we get Green Bay in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Niners seem to be meeting old friends in these playoffs. Green Bay leads the all-time series, one that has seen 62 meetings dating back to 1950. Green Bay leads 34-27-1. Green bay also owns the playoff meetings. In the last 5 playoff meetings between the 2 teams, Green Bay is 4-1. The lone win for the Niners is the Owens Owens Owens! wildcard win back in 1999. The last playoff meeting betwee the 2 teams was in the 2001 wildcard round. The Niners lost in Lambeau 25-15 in a meeting between Brett Favre and Jeff Garcia.
Now? Well, the prognosticators are pretty much giving the game to Green Bay. At least the ones I’ve been seeing. It’s hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers had a healthy team at the start of the season, and the Niners pretty much flattened them. If not for a gift punt return where the replacement refs missed 2 blatant blocks in the back when they picked up their flags and ate them. Still, the Niners won fairly easily. Saturday night however, the Niners will have their playoff rookie, Colin Kaepernick, behind center, and a team that is banged up a good bit. Gone are Kendall Hunter, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams, and a limited Justin Smith. In their place are LaMichael James (good), Ted Ginn (bad), and AJ Jenkins (ugly), and a fair Ricky Jean Francois. I hope to see Randy Moss used more, and having Jenkins do more than get one look would help. Still not enough deep balls being thrown to either Moss or Jenkins.
Other than that, the formula remains the same for the Niners. Get to Rodgers early and often. They did that in the first meeting this year, and Rodgers was obviously rattled. If Justin Smith isn’t providing enough support for Aldon Smith, then the Niners should move Aldon around to force mismatches and get him in Rodgers’ face. Offensively? Well, the Niners aren’t going to suddenly go 4 wide and pistol formation every down, but certainly that is something that they should try on occasion. During Kappy’s time at UNR running the pistol, he had 2 RBs go over 1,000 yards the same year. Running out of the spread can be very effective, and Gore has done it the few times we have tried it. Get that going, and play-action out of that works great.
Minimize turnovers, force Rodgers into bad decisions or sacks, and get some early points on the board. Game over. I think I said 34-17, and I’m sticking with that.