If you haven't heard, my wife gave birth to our first child, Dylan McKenna, yesterday. Dylan was born at 35 weeks and 6 days. Clearly, he didn't want to miss the Kickoff to the NFL season and more importantly, he obviously wanted to be home for the start of the Packer season this Sunday.
It is the 5-time Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers traveling to Titletown, USA to take on the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. On FOX. Buck & Aikman in the booth. This is grand!
The 49ers will bring a fierce, powerful defensive attack couple with a punishing offense that takes the occasional timely shot down field. They'll be a tough match-up for the finesse of the Packers offense. Plainly stated, the physical nature of the Green Bay roster will be put to its toughest task of the season in Week 1. San Francisco will bring attitude. The biggest question of the day: Can the Packers go blow for blow with the 49ers and match their toughness? If not, the Packers will have to try an turn this gam into a shoot out or else it could be a long, frustrating day at Lambeau Field.
Jim Harbaugh's offense is predicated on mismatches. Harbaugh has undoubtedly spent significant time licking his chops at the notion of getting Vernon Davis lined up in space against either Nick Perry or one of the Packers ILB's. Harbaugh will try to move the pocket and utilize Alex Smith's mobility. He will look to pound Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter at the meat of the interior defense. Then, he'll come with play action. Outside of Davis, the routes will be fairly simple to cover if the Packers stay disciplined. We'll see crossing routes to Crabtree, deep balls to Moss, and passes in the flat to Delanie Walker. With that said, if the Packers can force 3rd & 6 or more, Alex Smith will give the defense plenty of opportunities for big plays.
To counter the 49ers attack, the Packers will utilize their full array of DL. Call me crazy, but this is a big game for CJ Wilson. Wilson was kept due to his play against the run. If he can't nut-up against SF, it'd be a huge disappointment. In the XLV run, Wilson was a solid run stuffer. When his role was expanded last year, he became a below average football player. But, Wilson has returned to his '10 spot on the team. He's a rotational defender who is expected to plug holes and take up blockers. It's my hope that he'll free up space for DJ Smith to meet ball carriers at or near the line of scrimmage.
The brute approach of the SF OL will be a terrific challenge for the revamped front 7 on the Packers defense. It has been frustrating to see how Worthy was used in the preseason. Worthy needs to be pulled tighter to the Guard. Too many times, Worthy has been found standing up, lined up in front of the tackle. On 3rd down, let's line Worthy and Raji tight against the Guards. With Perry's bull rush an Matthews' speed rush, it's likely that pressure would be applied with only 4 defenders. On 3rd down, it's possible that Alex Smith might require a spy in some scenarios.
But, the key is stopping the 49ers is to slow down Vernon Davis. To do so, I'd lock Woodson man for man on him. Woodson has the physicality and the football whereabouts to slow down Davis. I don't believe we have anyone else who can defend him.
The Packers OL is going to have a total gut-check. Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are seek fierce contact. They'll all be attack the NFL's MVP with a vicious intent via a variety of blitzes. The OL must communicate at peak levels and win the 1 on 1 battles. Newhouse v Aldon Smith is an important battle. The Packers must get positive yards on 1st & 2nd down or the 49ers defensive front can be absolutely lethal.
But, if the SF defense has a weakness it is found on the outside. Tarell Brown can be had. So, can Chris Culliver. I really liked Perrish Cox coming out of college, but he hasn't been able to keep himself on the field. The key to beating SF is to spread 'em out. Well timed, quick passes. Short hitches to Greg "BE GREAT" Jennings. Slants to JJ. Short 4 yard outs to Double D. Then, it's Jordy on the deep post.
Expect McCarthy to try to force the 49ers to drop Willis & Bowman into coverage. This also opens up Cedric Benson on he cutback run. Expect McCarthy to add in some trickery with Randall Cobb. Whether it's on special teams or on offense, Cobb will make a game changing play. He'll swing field position and the momentum.
Rodgers throws for 250 and 3 TD's.
Green Bay 27. San Francisco 23.
Rise Up, Lambeau Field. Off yur' ass. On yur' feet. In unison. Let's get to 1-0.
Go Pack Go!