Packers vs. 49ers: Most Important Ailing Players in Divisional Round Battle

David DanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 12, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 29:  Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers salutes the crowd after getting a sack against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  49rs won 24-3.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Being the better team often entails being the healthier team. Such is the case in Sunday's NFC divisional round game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

Both teams have key players who are banged up. Their ability to fight through the pain and perform close to 100 percent will play a huge part in determining who advances to the NFC Championship Game.

Here are the most important players on the Packers and 49ers who were limited in practice this week.


4. Green Bay WR Jordy Nelson

Nelson led the Packers in receiving yards in 2011, but he missed four games due to injury this year. When able to play, he was still one of Aaron Rodgers’ favorite targets, recording 49 receptions for 745 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.

Against the 49ers, he’ll be forced to play through an ankle injury that could negatively affect his ability to get in and out of breaks.


3. San Francisco DE Justin Smith

A partially torn tricep tendon has kept Smith out of action since Week 15. But Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times reported that Jim Harbaugh said of Smith’s ability to suit up this week: “God willing and the creek don't rise, he's going to play.”

At his best, Smith is the 49ers’ most dominant defender. Against a Packers offensive line that allowed the second-most sacks in the regular season, he’ll have an opportunity to go off, if healthy.


2. Green Bay WR Randall Cobb

Cobb led the Packers with 80 receptions and 954 yards this season. He only had one catch for seven yards in last week's wild-card win over the Minnesota Vikings, though, and to bounce back, he’ll have to do so through an illness.

Green Bay was able to beat the Vikes without Cobb doing much, but it needs him to play well against an elite 49ers stop unit. He caught nine balls for 77 yards against the Packers in a Week 1 loss.


1. San Francisco OLB Aldon Smith

Smith is the 49ers’ pass rush.

He has a whopping 19.5 sacks, more than half of the team’s total. No one else has recorded more than 6.5. 

The 49ers need him to play like he doesn’t have an injured shoulder.

Again, the Packers’ protection of Rodgers is pitiful, so Smith could have a field day.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.