Packers vs. 49ers: Unheralded Players Who Will Have Huge Impact on Week 1 Battle

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 09:  Nick Perry #53 of the Green Bay Packers participates in warm-ups before a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field on August 9, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Cardinals defeated the Packers 17-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

One of the best matchups of Week 1 of the NFL season is the San Francisco 49ers against the Green Bay Packers, although the game will not necessarily be decided by the stars.

Obviously, quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Colin Kaepernick will play a huge role in the contest. Rodgers led the league in quarterback rating last season, while Kaepernick has had success against the Packers, rushing for 181 yards in last year's playoff win.

Other big names like Frank Gore and Clay Matthews will need big showings as well in order to help their team win. 

However, a few lesser-known players could end up deciding the game with a good or bad performance in this one.


Eric Reid, FS, San Francisco 49ers

After being selected in the first round in the NFL draft, Eric Reid did well enough in training camp to earn the starting job at free safety. Unfortunately, the challenging part is still ahead for the young player.

Reid will be replacing All-Pro Dashon Goldson at the position, and his first game will be against a former MVP in Rodgers. The Packers will likely target him early and often to see if he is truly ready to perform at the professional level.

While the safety has plenty of experience playing in big games at LSU, he has not seen anything like the Packers offense. If he is not up to the task, Green Bay will be able to throw down the field all game long.


Kyle Williams, WR, San Francisco 49ers

To many 49ers fans, Kyle Williams is still only known as the player who fumbled two punts in the NFC Championship Game two years ago. However, he is set to have a big role on the team this season.

The fourth-year receiver is slated to start Week 1 opposite Anquan Boldin and is likely to handle punt-return duties as well.

In his limited opportunities, Williams has shown a decent playmaking ability that could really help the 49ers with Michael Crabtree out. However, his lack of experience could limit the options in the passing game.

His play will dictate how the Packers are able to defend the passing game, and it could either be very easy or very hard depending on the performance. 


Nick Perry, LB, Green Bay Packers

The Packers drafted Nick Perry in the first round of the 2012 draft to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks opposite Clay Matthews. Unfortunately, injuries limited his first season to only a handful of games.

However, he is now healthy and ready to showcase the athleticism that made him so highly regarded in the first place. If he can provide balance on defense, it will free up Matthews to have an even bigger year than usual.

Of course, the biggest problem last season against Kaepernick was stopping the read-option. This requires discipline to stay in the right spot, which is something that young players often struggle with.

Perry has to be more mature than his experience would dictate to help slow down the 49ers offense.


David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay Packers

Any time you have to use a rookie at left tackle in Week 1, it is a risk. However, the Packers will be forced to use fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari at the spot after losing Bryan Bulaga for the season.

While the former Colorado player has shown potential, he has a lot of pressure on him in his first-ever appearance as the blindside protector for Aaron Rodgers.

Additionally, his first assignment is to contain the elite duo of Justin Smith at defensive end and Aldon Smith at linebacker. The pair play extremely well together and cause havoc for even the most experienced offensive tackles.

If Bakhtiari struggles in the game, it could lead to Rodgers spending a lot of time on his back.


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