Back in Week 3, the 49ers were 2-0 and the Packers were 1-1 coming off an opening day absolute mauling by the Saints 38-0. That game was close, hard-fought, and in the end, squandered by Kyle Shanahan as he left too much time on the clock (0:37 seconds), and the defense allowed Rodgers to throw uncontested down the middle of the field twice for 42 yards and the game winning FG by the highly erratic Mason Crosby.
Say what you will about Jimmy driving the team down for the go-ahead score in the 4th quarter, he had a typical 2 fumble, 1 INT game to go along with the 2 TDs. 25-40, 257 and 4 sacks. Rodgers was an efficient 22-33, 261, 2 TDs, 1 sack.
The run game was kaput with the rookie Trey Sermon providing little. 10-31, 1 TD. Green Bay on the other hand had Aaron Jones run for 82 yards and a score.
For all that, the Niners should have won. With 43 seconds left and a 1st down on the 12, the Niners should have run at least once to bleed some time. Sure, it may change the later plays, but to think that Aaron Rodgers won’t do what he did is a dream that didn’t come true. Ryans not pressuring Rodgers was a major fail. One sack and the game would have been over.
But that was then. This is NOW.
Who is better, and who is worse? Well, I think the edge here goes to the 49ers. Trey Sermon has proven to be a washout, and did nothing back in September. Elijah Mitchell has proven to be a stud at running back and is a vast improvement. Deebo Samuel had yet to be the running threat that he is now. Shanahan has done a better job of calling plays, and making adjustments on both sides of the ball.
Another big factor is that RT Tom Compton has done a bang-up job since replacing Mike McGlinchey. That Shanny runs right is a testament to his faith in Compton. Green Bay’s D line is banged up so the thought there is we can pound them.
Also, I think the defense, namely the pass rush, has improved dramatically over the past month. Also, believe it or not, the defensive backfield has improved markedly as well. Ambry Thomas will hopefully keep Dontae Johnson off the field. He’s battling a bone bruise but should be ready. Nick Bosa thankfully cleared the concussion protocol so he is full steam ahead.
Another factor could be the competition faced. The Packers have had an easy stretch these past 5 games. Wins over the Bears, Ravens, Browns a, and Vikings, and a meaningless loss to the Bears, plus a week off MAY lead to a false sense of security, and a slow start for the Pack.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have been playing for their lives these past 10 weeks (going 8-2) just to reach this spot. And this IS a team with playoff experience. So the moment won’t be too big. The weather shouldn’t be too much of a factor, Green Bay has had a dismal playoff record since way back in 2010 when they won their last Super Bowl, and we have nothing to lose really.
Niners 30, Packers 20.