The 49ers’ 5 keys to upsetting the top-seeded Green Bay packers at Lambeau

GREEN FLY, Wisc. – When Lambeau Field hosts the 49ers on Saturday night, it will mark the Packers’ first playoff since… on-field goals.

Remember last year, when Packers coach Matt LaFleur was determined to score instead of letting Aaron Rodgers score in 4th place and score from the 8-yard line, down 8 points?

That call was predicted Monday as Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ate the final two minutes to win the NFC Championship Game, 31-26, en route to their Super Bowl championship.

It extended the Packers’ Lombardi Trophy’s drought to 10 years and marked the latest heartbreak for Aaron Rodgers. All of that said: The Packers wouldn’t dare let the ball – and their fate – fall from Rodgers’ hands again, not if they wanted to maintain the service of the league’s MVP going forward.

Rodgers is one of the most familiar defenders in the history of the 49ers. Only his predecessor, Brett Favre, faced 49 more times (14, as opposed to Rodgers’ 12) in undivided games. He’s a Chico native, a product of Cal, and a player forever after the 49ers shunned him atop the 2005 draft.

Rodgers, of course, was also 0-3 ahead of them in the playoffs. According to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, no quarterback has ever lost four playoffs against a team.

Most recent: loss at the NFC Championship two years ago. What’s more relevant: a wild card playoff loss in January 2014 at frigid Lambeau, a repeatable scene in the upcoming rematch. Saturday night’s temperature will drop into the digits as Seed Pack Team #1 (13-4) organizes sixth-placed team 49 (11-7).

Rogers, after escaping last season’s playoffs to the Bucs, said he thought he would get his first four goal attempts from his eighth. But after three failed attempts, LaFleur voted for a goal on the field. And a goal is what has allowed the Packers to ruin the 49ers’ home opener this season. After falling behind with 37 seconds remaining, Rodgers led a winning game that ended with Mason Crosby’s 51-yard shot.

If this comes to an end – like the 49ers’ wild card win on Sunday in Dallas – here are five keys to guaranteeing an upset:


Simply, the 49ers either played great in the first half or needed an intense 4th half finish. Rarely do they serve whole enchilada.

Two weeks ago, they led 17-0 in the first half and regrouped to beat the Rams in extra time. Sunday, they led 23-7 in the fourth half, then went on to win 23-17 over the Cowboys.

Team 49 had to start quickly, to set the tone with a terrifying physical assault. Or, if they start defending, defender Fred Warner says they have to take the ball or force three shots.

“You’re on the road, in a hostile environment, against the top team in NFC – I want a hot start,” Warner said. “That’s obviously the ongoing goal, and the goal of every game. Last week we had a hot start against the Cowboys and that got us through the whole game. ”

That also worked in the 2019 NFC Championship Game. They took a 27-0 lead after halftime running for 185 yards and three touchdowns, the last 10 of which were from replays of the Rodgers (track, intercept).

In last year’s NFC final, the Bucs opened with a ball that hit the ground and took a 21-10 lead at halftime. They never followed up. “Definitely, it started with us going out and starting quickly,” said Packers running back Aaron Jones. “We have to be the ones who set the tone from the dance.”


Speaking of Jones, he floundered in the opening game after halftime of last year’s NFC Championship Game, and the Bucs scored the next moment to take a 28-10 lead.

Jones clearly has no fond memories of that play. And he was reminded of it this week. “We are talking about a scandal from last year. We’re about to play a playoff,” Jones told a Green Bay reporter on Tuesday. “I’m not worried about what happened in the game last year. All I can control is this game. It affected me and I thought about it for a long time. I took it off my chest. ”

Ironically, Jones left that match with a chest injury. He’s lost a lick in 223 touchdowns this season (799 yards), so he’s not easily groped, as is AJ Dillon (803 yards, one touch).

But they may be more vulnerable to turnover than their quarterback, in a group of Packers tied for NFL lows with 13 giveaways. No opponent has been able to stop Rodgers in the past seven games as he unleashed 20 touchdown passes. Only 4 of 531 passes have been blocked this season with 37 touches.

The first leg makes more sense in the knockout round. Example: Intercepting K’Waun Williams’ previous game, this match brought Deebo Samuel up to take the 49ers’ overall victory point.


The 49ers are averaging 195.3 yards in four playoffs under Shanahan, with each going over 100 yards and maxing out 285 against the Packers in the 2019 NFC title game. Does someone else 285 yards get it?

“Green Bay’s defense probably has something to say about that,” replied offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. “You could say they pride themselves on being a tough unit that doesn’t want the ball to touch them. So I wouldn’t get anywhere close to predicting those once-in-a-lifetime trades. ”

Green Bay, even with the All-Pro linebacker in De’Vondre Campbell, allows 4.7 yards per carry (third most in the NFL) and they won’t be far off giving away 219 yards Browns at Christmas.

Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel need to keep the Packers defense out of balance. That coordinated punch not only got the 49ers moving, but kept the ball out of Rodgers’ hands. Keeping the ball out of the hands of the Packer defenders is also important.

“They get a lot of passes,” Samuel said, “and to win we have to defend the ball, be physically fit and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Mitchell did not compete in the loss to Green Bay in Week 3. Samuel had two carry-ons with no gauge in them, and his dual role wasn’t held until mid-season. This is a hugely different rush attack than Week 3. The block was on time, big time.

On average, The Packers only put 6.3 defenders in the box near the touchline, the lightest number in the league; The 49ers typically face 7.1 defenders, according to ESPN. Running efficiently will also minimize any potential hiccups from Jimmy Garoppolo when he plays because of thumb and shoulder injuries.


Davante Adams, a product of Palo Alto High School, beat the 49ers – and, well, nearly every opponent. Shanahan said stopping the Rodgers-to-Adams connection is “nearly impossible.” The 49ers certainly couldn’t do that in Week 3, when Adams made tackles at 25 and 17 yards to score the Packers’ go-in.

The 49ers’ high school scores have changed since then, seemingly for the better, and Adams will give them the truest test. He averaged 9.6 hits, 123.6 yards and touchdowns in five games with the 49ers.

A strong pass came against Rodgers two years ago, and for this encore to work at its best, Nick Bosa had to escape last Sunday’s concussion. Alternatively, an inside push from Arik Armstead, DJ Jones and Kevin Givens could knock Rodgers out of the bag (with a bad toe).

Complicating insurance concerns was Ambry Thomas’ bruised knee, which limited him from training. The rookies have started the past six games. A wrong Saturday will lead to trouble.

Having healthy Williams and Emmanuel Moseley certainly helps. But if Thomas can’t go, the 49ers could resort to summoning Josh Norman or Dontae Johnson, rather than turning to rookie Deodoore Lenoir (45 goals against the Packers in Week 3, just 46 seconds since).

Another problem: Allen Lazard, who has five touches in the last five games. The 49ers’ 5 keys to upsetting the top-seeded Green Bay packers at Lambeau


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