Packers vs. 49ers: Aaron Rodgers Is the Key to a Green Bay Win

Bob FoxContributor ISeptember 7, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws the ball against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers will face the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Sunday to open the the 2013 NFL season. Unlike most games that quarterback Aaron Rodgers plays in, the focus is more on the opposing quarterback in the game, Colin Kaepernick.

That's what happens when Kaepernick put up the type of numbers he did the last time the two teams met during the NFC Divisional Game last postseason when the Niners beat the Packers 45-31.

Kaepernick had 444 total yards by himself in the game, as he ran the read-option play to perfection. San Francisco had 579 total yards in the game.

Rodgers meanwhile, will be looking forward to getting the focus shifted to him after the game on Sunday.

This will be the last year the 49ers play at Candlestick Park, as they will be moving to Levi's Stadium in 2014. Rodgers has seen many a game at Candlestick Park, as he grew up a big fan of the Niners in Chico, California.

Rodgers talked about that situation in America's Game, the NFL Films documentary about the 2010 Green Bay Packers.

I dreamt about being the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. I used to draw little plays on note cards and dream I was Joe Montana throwing passes in the backyard with Dad.

Rodgers thought that would definitely happen in 2005, as he thought the 49ers were going to pick him with the first selection of the draft.

It was going to be a perfect fit. Me and San Francisco, my childhood team, and I was going to be wearing the red and gold. I met with Mike McCarthy (then the offensive coordinator of the 49ers) and he said I think we are going to pick you. I mean this is a no brainer. I'm from Chico, three hours away. I went to Berkeley (University of California). Best quarterback in the draft. I mean, let's make it happen.

But Rodgers wasn't picked by the 49ers. San Francisco took Alex Smith instead, and Rodgers ended up sliding to the 24th pick of the draft, when Ted Thompson of the Packers was more than happy to select him.

Rodgers has had a brilliant career in Green Bay, as he has become the NFL all-time leader in quarterback rating with 104.9.

In his career, Rodgers has thrown an astonishing 171 touchdown passes, versus just 46 interceptions and 21,661 yards.

Rodgers has also been a Super Bowl MVP, when he led the Packers to a 31-25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

The former California Bear followed that up by winning the NFL MVP award in 2011.

Rodgers has played the 49ers four times in his career, and has a 2-2 mark (including the postseason). Rodgers usually plays very well against his boyhood team, as he has thrown nine touchdowns, two picks and 1,202 yards for a quarterback rating of 106.9.

For the Packers to win on Sunday against the 49ers, Rodgers needs to come up with one of his better efforts.

Rodgers has to get some help though. The offensive line has to hold up against one of the best front-sevens in the NFL. All eyes will be on rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari, as he will be taking on outside linebacker Aldon Smith in pass protection. Smith led the NFC with 19.5 sacks.

In the two games against the 49ers last year, Rodgers was sacked four times for 33 yards.

The running game could really help out Rodgers as well. This is where Eddie Lacy could have a real impact. The Packers struggled running the ball in the first matchup against the Niners last year, but ran the ball much better in the postseason.

If the Packers can keep the defense of the 49ers off balance, Rodgers will have all of his key weapons available in the passing game. This includes the Big Three at wide receiver, which includes Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones.

The three receivers combined for 193 receptions for 2,483 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.

Jones had a touchdown reception in each of the games versus the 49ers last year.

In addition to those three talented receivers, Rodgers can also utilize tight end Jermichael Finley, who has looked very good this summer in training camp and in preseason games.

Bottom line, everyone will be looking to see how the Packers will be able to stop the read-option play, as well as the passing and scrambling prowess of Kaepernick.

Meanwhile, Rodgers is flying under the radar due to the attention being given to Kaepernick.

If the Packers can upset the 49ers on Sunday, the bright light will be focused on Rodgers, as opposed to No. 7 of the Niners.

That sure would be a nice homecoming present for Rodgers.