A Win in Green Bay: How the 49ers Can Beat the Packers
Unfortunately for San Francisco, the Seattle Seahawks couldn't hold onto a seven point half-time lead and the Cardinals now remain two full games ahead of the 49ers.
If the red & gold have any hope of making the playoffs this year, it will have to come by winning the division.
And in order for that to happen, the 49ers are going to need to win a game in which they have no business winning.
If you aren't a follower of either the Niners or the Pack, you might not be aware of just how little success San Francisco has had against Green Bay.
The 49ers have not beaten the Packers in the regular season in almost 20 years. You have to go back to the 1990 regular season to find the last time the 49ers won a regular season contest against the Pack.
San Francisco won that game by a 24-20 final at Lambeau and in order for them to break their current 0-4 streak in the state of Wisconsin, they are going to have to put up over 20 points once again.
However, if the 49ers attempt to play the same offensive style that limited them to just 10 points in their win against the Bears last week, they might just get shut out.
Even though it may not be cold enough to snow in Green Bay, the temperature is bound to be below 40 on Sunday with the windchill near freezing and a possibility of rain.
Combine the weather with a Packers secondary featuring Charles Woodson, Al Harris, and Nick Colllins, saying Alex Smith is going to face an uphill battle throwing the football would be an understatement.
So how can the 49ers put up 20+ points? The answer is simple, put the ball on the ground and keep Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers off the field.
Rodgers, the quarterback the 49ers passed on during the 2005 draft, is currently on pace to throw for over 4300 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions.
San Francisco will not win this game 38-35; it's just not going to happen.
In order for them to win, they have to get Frank Gore at least 25 carries, if not 30 if they want to come away with a victory.
With the offensive line being as inconsistent as it has been thus far, simplifying the game will allow the 49ers to limit the mistakes.
Pounding the rock will also help benefit the potential passing game with Smith at quarterback.
Despite the fact the winning formula includes a heavy douse of Gore running the ball, Smith is going to have to make some big throws in certain situations to keep the Packers defense honest.
But over the last few weeks, Smith has essentially been dropping back and throwing out of the pocket. On numerous occasions he has attempted to fit the ball into windows that only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady can fit balls into.
Now this isn't Smith's fault, he can only run the plays called by offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.
However, if Raye has any wits about him at all, he will start to put Smith in situations that allow him to succeed.
Smith, whose best asset is clearly his mobility, needs to be rolled out of the pocket and allowed to throw on the run or in space.
How many times have we seen similar quarterbacks make big plays down field while outside of the pocket? Guys like Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, and Donovan McNabb are always seen making throws outside the hash marks up by the line of scrimmage.
The best chance Smith is going to have to make that clutch throw for a big first down is when he has the ability to read the defense away from the pocket and away from pressure.
However, if the 49ers continue to call plays that simply have him drop back in the pocket and throw down field, the interceptions are bound to continue and if San Fran starts turning the ball over, there going to have little to no chance of beating the Packers.
But if the offense can follow the aforementioned parameters and execute, it will allow their defense to stay fresh enough to perform their game plan for a full 60 minutes.
Defensively, the 49ers need to bring every single blitz package in their play book and bring it hard on Rodgers.
If Green Bay has any problems, it is with their pass blocking. Despite being a game above .500 at 5-4, the Packers have allowed an NFL worst 41 sacks this season. Nine more than the next worst team, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Granted, the 49ers are tied for 21st in the league when it comes to sacking the quarterback, they have the ability to give opposing offenses fits if they can stay fresh enough for the entire game.
Just three weeks ago, the 49ers sacked Peyton Manning three times even though the Colts had allowed just allowed two sacks all season long before that game.
The pass rushing ability is clearly evident on the 49ers defense, they just need to start letting their pass rushers do what they do best and let them take advantage of Green Bay's poor pass protection.
Linebackers Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson need to be bringing pressure on the majority of snaps on Sunday and when you add in middle linebacker Patrick Willis and defensive end Justin Smith, these four players in particular are going to have to step up their game and attack Green Bay's offensive line.
Assuming the 49ers coaching staff has the wherewithal to create a game plan in this fashion, then San Francisco has a significant chance of coming away with a victory.
But if they continue to fail at putting pressure on the quarterback like they did against Atlanta and Houston, the defense will be shredded apart by Green Bay's passing attack.
However, that won't even matter if the 49er coaches continue to put more faith in Smith as a pocket passer than they put in Gore as a tailback.
For the sake of 49ers fans, let's just hope Mike Singletary puts together an adequate game plan for beating Green Bay.
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