In what was surely the game of the week, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers put on a show for NFL fans. The 49ers came out victorious, defeating the Packers, 34-28, but it wasn't without a battle.
It should prepare the 49ers for what should be another battle in Week 2. The 49ers will travel to CenturyLink Field to face off against the Seattle Seahawks on prime time.
Despite the win, the 49ers didn't play their best football against the Packers. Whether that's impressive or not, the Seahawks will present a new set of challenges.
Colin Kaepernick was phenomenal in Week 1, but can he repeat that performance against a stingy Seahawks secondary? I say yes; however, the 49ers may need a few of their role players to step up if they want to escape Seattle unscathed.
Here are five players that could give the Niners the edge in Week 2.
As you scroll down the list, you'll notice that this article has a rookie feel to it. Quinton Patton is one of the main reasons.
The rookie receiver out of Louisiana Tech has shown some impressive flashes during preseason action this year. In the last two preseason games, Patton was able to haul in two touchdowns.
In terms of physical ability, Patton has the tools to be a very good receiver in the NFL. Patton is at his most dangerous in space. He has great YAC (yards after catch) potential.
Patton was a non-factor against the Packers in Week 1, but expect the rookie to have a more expanded role in Week 2. In fact, I expect other receivers like Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore to be a factor in this game.
Don't be surprised if the Seahawks use a corner to cover Vernon Davis. If so, anyone not named Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis could have a favorable matchup.
Watch out for Patton in Week 2.
In my eyes—and likely 49ers fans—Ray McDonald is already considered a star. However, when you have players like Justin Smith and Aldon Smith on your defensive line, players like McDonald get no love.
As a 3-4 defensive end, your job as a two-gap lineman is to simply occupy blockers, so don't expect players like McDonald to put up huge numbers.
J.J. Watt was an obvious exception, though the Houston Texans tend to move him around along the line.
Against the Seahawks, McDonald should have the advantage over right tackle Breno Giacomini. Looking at the Seahawks game film against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, Giacomini struggled matching up with defensive end Charles Johnson.
The Seahawks will focus on stopping the Smiths' duo on the other end, leaving prime opportunities for both Ahmad Brooks and Ray McDonald.
Eric Reid was very impressive in the 49ers Week 1 victory over the Packers. He finished the game with six tackles and one interception.
I expected Reid to struggle early in the season, especially if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio made the decision to start the rookie over veteran safety Craig Dahl.
Now, Reid did have a few rookie moments but nothing we should get overly worked up about.
The Seahawks should struggle to run against this stout 49ers front seven, leaving Russell Wilson to throw his team to victory. This strategy was effective against the Panthers secondary but will prove tougher against this Niners back end.
Reid did a fantastic job in protecting the deep ball against one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers.
Russell Wilson will be a challenge, especially in Seattle, but I can see Reid continuing where he left off. We could see a big play or two out of Reid this Sunday.
I told you this list would have a rookie feel. Vance McDonald, like Patton, should make a mark in Week 2 against the Seahawks.
The 49ers will play the matchups. As I stated before, the Seahawks will have their sights on Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, which should leave more opportunities for unheralded players to step up.
McDonald was solid against the Packers. He caught one ball for 25 yards early in the game but was a non-factor the rest of the way.
His versatility should be on full display next week. The 49ers can line him up everywhere, and because of his size, I wouldn't be surprised if McDonald gets in the end zone a few times.
The return of Kendall Hunter should excite 49ers' fans. A combination of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter should strike fear in any opponent.
Hunter has a nice blend of speed, strength and agility. He has learned to become more patient as holes develop, thanks of course to Frank Gore.
In the 49ers victory over the Packers last week, Hunter gained 24 yards on six carries. He didn't put up any gaudy numbers, but Hunter was effective in relief of Gore.
The Seahawks, despite their reputation as a great defense, can be pedestrian at stopping the run. In Week 1, the Seahawks gave up nearly five yards per carry to the Panthers. DeAngelo Williams alone was effective.
This is a great sign for both Gore and Hunter. Not to mention Colin Kaepernick's running ability, which also should open up lanes for the 49ers stable of running backs.
Look for the 49ers running game to get back on track, and I expect Kendall Hunter to be a big part of that equation.