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Aaron Rodgers looks to defeat the 49ers again this season as they face off in the NFC Divisional Round (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images).

NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW 2021-22 Divisional: #1 Packers VS #6 49ers

packers 49ers
The Packers 49ers matchup will be no cake-walk, but Green Bay won’t have much to worry about in this one. (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images).

NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW 2021-22 Divisional: #1 Packers VS #6 49ers

An upset in Dallas has the 49ers moving onto Green Bay. A daunting matchup against the Packers will be a significantly tougher matchup, but there are several things San Francisco can pull off to move onto the NFC Championship. Unfortunately that is unlikely to happen as the Packers are coming off a first-round bye after an illustrious 13-4 season in which Aaron Rodgers will likely win the MVP award for the second consecutive year.

How the Packers Can Win

1. Play their game

The Packers were unstoppable as the season went on. Both sides of the ball were clicking and it showed. The 10th best offense in terms of yards was a result of a more balanced attack than we’ve seen in years past from the Packers. Don’t get me wrong, Rodgers still cooked up defenses left and right, but Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon held their own forming a dynamic rushing attack. The Niners’ defense is nothing to scoff at, but the Packers just may do that Saturday. A healthy David Bakhtiari can stifle Nick Bosa, and Davante Adams will do Davante Adams things. LaFleur just needs to run his offense and everything else will follow.

2. Stop the run

Their run defense is Green Bay’s Achilles heel. Giving up the third most yards per attempt at 4.7, the Packers struggle to contain the run. San Francisco’s offense relies on establishing the run. Setting up play actions where George Kittle can abuse a slam release is Kyle Shanahan’s bread and butter. Kenny Clark will need to step it up on the interior and wreak havoc. Za’Darius Smith is reportedly going to be back and will have a huge impact setting the edge.

3. Let Jimmy G do his thing

Kind of going hand in hand with the previous point with this one. If the Packers can get an early lead and/or stop the run, San Francisco will rely on Jimmy G to win them the game. That is when the Packers will really take over the game. After throwing a mind-boggling pick in crunch time last week against the Cowboys, Jimmy G will have his hands full with the Packers’ elite secondary. Green Bay had the 6th most interceptions throughout the regular season and their defense will only be better. The presumptuous return of Jaire Alexander will allow the Packers to be more aggressive, allowing him to be on an island with either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk.

How The 49ers Can Win

1. Establish the run at all costs

This is basically cherry-picked from the previous points, but it is the most vital aspect of this matchup. If the 49ers cannot establish a run game early, then they do not have a chance of winning this game. Elijah Mitchell has been a steal of a sixth-round pick for them, but he and this offensive line will dictate the outcome of this game. After rushing for 169 yards against Dallas, San Fran must have a repeatedly dominant performance.

2. Get pressure on Rodgers

To be completely honest, I don’t know what the 49ers must do defensively to stop the Packers’ offense. There is not one matchup or aspect to focus on. If you double Davante Adams, Rodgers will find Lazard, Valdes-Scantling, or Cobb. The aforementioned receivers are not great at getting separation, but Rodgers’s uncanny ability to throw receivers open will win them the game. IF San Francisco can get in the backfield quickly while somehow locking up Adams simultaneously, they will have a chance of winning this one, albeit slim.

3. Limit what Jimmy G can do

I don’t trust Jimmy Garoppolo to win me a football game. I’m not convinced the 49ers organization is either. Putting Garoppolo in an ideal situation where he doesn’t have to do much and can make the quick-easy reads is how to work the passing game. If he is given too much, he will make mistakes through costly turnovers. Throwing the ball over 30 times will be a recipe for disaster for Shanahan’s offense.

The previous meeting between these two teams was a close fought match where Green Bay won on a last second field goal. However, a significantly healthier Packers team will be playing at home this time. I don’t see this one being particularly close, as Green Bay’s offense and defense will be firing on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers will be another step closer to another Super Bowl run.

Prediction: 31-17 Packers

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