3 Things 49ers Must Do to Upset the Packers at Lambeau Field
Kyle Shanahan’s team needs its rushing attack to perform at a high level for two reasons.
The first is to create an offensive rhythm early and not put all of the pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo’s shoulders.
The second reason might be more important since a few long drives can limit the number of possessions Aaron Rodgers has.
Rodgers could carve up the San Francisco secondary if he receives plenty of time to operate in the pocket.
San Francisco can limit Rodgers’ pass attempts by running the ball with success and keeping the game in the 20s.
The 49ers must rely on their rushing attack to threaten Green Bay, but they also need to get one of their top weapons involved at times in the passing game to keep the Packers defense honest for four quarters.
Run the Ball Well
The simplest key to success is also the most important one for the 49ers.
San Francisco ran for 169 yards in the wild-card round win over the Dallas Cowboys, and it has over 130 ground yards in four of its last five contests.
The 49ers are 6-0 this season when they run for 155 or more yards. They are 7-1 when they total more than 145 rushing yards.
Green Bay held San Francisco to 67 ground yards in their Week 3 meeting, but the 49ers have had a better grasp on their rushing game since then.
The 49ers ran for less than 100 yards in just three of the 15 contests that followed the matchup with the Packers.
Green Bay allowed over 100 rushing yards to three of its last five opponents. The Detroit Lions were one yard away from reaching that mark in Week 18. Green Bay's second-teamers played the second half of that contest.
The Packers were hurt in the ground game in their pair of postseason contests last season. Cam Akers recorded 90 yards on 18 carries in the divisional round, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up 76 yards and a touchdown in support of Tom Brady in the NFC Championship Game.
Green Bay displayed weaknesses defending the run lately, and in last season's playoffs, and that could be the great neutralizer on Saturday night.
Get George Kittle More Involved
George Kittle has not had more than 30 receiving yards since Week 15.
Kittle had a single reception versus the Cowboys. He was also held to one catch by the Houston Texans in Week 17.
The Tennessee Titans started the shut down trend of the 49ers tight end when they held him to two catches and 21 yards in Week 16.
The 49ers need Kittle to improve on his recent totals to challenge the Packers from all angles.
San Francisco might be able to get by with just a successful rushing game for one half, but it needs to have some sort of passing threat to challenge the Packers, or keep up with Aaron Rodgers.
Kittle’s best postseason performance came in the Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He had four receptions for 36 yards. That seems low for someone who is used so much during the regular season.
Kittle does not need to put up massive totals, but he needs to have more than one or two catches and around 25 yards to give the 49ers the best chance to win.
Contain Aaron Rodgers
The 49ers are not going to completely stop Aaron Rodgers.
That is not possible against one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but the 49ers can contain the production of the Green Bay quarterback.
Green Bay was 5-1 and it had four victories of eight points or more when Rodgers threw for more than 275 yards in the regular season.
The Packers also won three games by double figures when their quarterback produced three or more passing touchdowns.
San Francisco limited Rodgers to 261 passing yards and two touchdowns in Week 3. Rodgers completed 23 of his 33 passes in the 30-28 victory.
The 49ers need to make Rodgers less accurate in the pocket with their pass rush. Two of Green Bay’s three losses occurred when Rodgers failed to complete over 70 percent of his pass attempts.
If they at least limit Rodgers’ production, the 49ers should have a chance to pull off the upset inside Lambeau Field.