The long wait is over – the bye week has passed! To get us back into the swing of things, the Packers are taking on the 49ers. The two best records in the conference go head to head in primetime for pole position of the number 1 seed as we enter the home stretch!
Here are three critical factors:
The Best Ability Is Availability
This late in the season, injuries have a way of mounting up. The 49ers are beat up coming off a stretch of hard-fought games. George Kittle, Matt Breida, Deebo Samuel, Emmanuel Sanders, Joe Staley and Robbie Gould have all been missing practice. That’s their running back, tight end, both wide receivers, left tackle, and kicker either out of not at full speed. On defense, linebacker Kown Alexander just went to IR and edge rusher Dee Ford looks unlikely to play. That’s a lot of injuries. Meanwhile, fresh off the bye, the Packers have everybody practicing. Everyone. That’s unheard of in week 12. If the 49ers don’t get some of these guys back by kickoff, it’ll take a Packers meltdown for them to win.
Familiarity Breeds… Creativity?
49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Texans when Matt LaFleur was an offensive quality control coach. When Shanahan became the offensive coordinator for the Redskins, he brought LaFleur with him to be his quarterbacks coach. When Shanahan became the offensive coordinator for the Falcons, he brought LaFleur with him again. These guys know each other. They know how each other thinks, how they gameplan, they know their tendencies, and (get ready to hear this a thousand times if you listen to the game) LaFleur’s brother Mike, who worked with both head coaches on the Falcons, has been working under Shanahan for the last 5 years, following him to three different teams. With all this familiarity, these guys are gonna have to unleash some of their back pocket work. With an extra week to prepare, the Packers have another advantage.
It’s Aaron Rodgers Time
Six games to go. This is when Rodgers starts running tables, relaxing, going all gas, or whatever catchphrase you prefer. Rodgers has certainly had some growing pains this year, but he’s adjusting well to the new offense and has found success against some of the top defenses in the league. He’s facing another top defense now in what promises to be an offensive chess match. At this stage in his career, Rodgers’s physical gifts have started to wane. He needs to lean more on his amazing cerebral gifts and this week, they will be key. He will undoubtedly be running unscouted (and untested) looks against a top defense in prime time with the #1 seed hanging in the balance. All gas… Can’t wait!
For more coverage of this week’s game, check out Pregame Predictions: Packers at 49ers – 2019 Week 12