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With their first, second and fourth-round picks this year, the Packers added defensive end Datone Jones (UCLA), along with running backs Eddie Lacy (Alabama) and Johnathan Franklin (UCLA). OL David Bakhtiari of Colorado also looks to play a significant role, checking in as the starting left tackle.
Not a bad group of guys, especially considering their impact on their respective college teams.
It appeared as if Jones, the No. 26 overall pick in 2013, might have an instant impact up front. Green Bay never fully recovered from losing defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles and the idea is that, hopefully, Jones will fill the void in spades. He is a very athletic lineman that fits the scheme of defensive coordinator Dom Capers to a T.
However, going into Week 1, Jones is the third-listed left end on Green Bay’s depth chart behind C.J. Wilson and Johnny Jolly, via the team’s official website. On top of which, he only played one snap in preseason before going down with an ankle sprain, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.
Once he finally returned to the field in Week 4 of exhibition against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jones was shut out:
Guarding Aaron Rodgers is perhaps the single most important job for any one offensive player on the Green Bay roster. If you’re protecting his blindside, it is even more critical. For young offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, he no doubt has butterflies fluttering around in his belly, going into what is easily the most difficult matchup for a tackle’s first-ever NFL start.
Frankly, this poor rookie is going to have his hands full on that side with All-Pro defensemen Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. He’ll be lucky if he isn’t embarrassed—and that is not hyperbole.
Getting back to the running backs, this could conceivably be the difference-maker for the Packers this time around, who are 0-2 against Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco squad. It is imperative for a team to have a balanced offensive approach when it lines up against the 49ers.
This defense is too talented for an opposing offense to zero in on its game plan.
Once Patrick Willis and Co. are in a groove and know what’s coming, the unit as a whole is able to kick it up another notch. Balance keeps them honest throughout the course of a game and holds defensive play-caller Vic Fangio at bay. Ergo, the mere presence of Lacy and Franklin is going to make the 49ers play them differently.
If Green Bay runs the ball to soften up this defense, it has a chance to set up Aaron Rodgers for some daggers down the field. And that's what they ultimately want: to put their best player in an optimal position. With this approach, they’ll get more favorable looks and will be able to take what the defense gives them.