By Guest Writer Ikeem Boyd:
For the second consecutive season, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers will meet in the playoffs.
San Francisco finished the season with a 12-4 record, earning the No. 5 seed in the NFC. That means the 49ers must travel to frigid Green Bay to take on the Packers, who earned the No. 4 seed in the NFC after winning the NFC North in a nail biter against the Chicago Bears to finish 8-7-1.
Last year’s playoff game was a coming out party for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who had the greatest rushing game by a quarterback in NFL history against the Packers’ defense.
The latest meeting between the two teams occurred back in Week 1. In a close game the 49ers outlasted the Packers by a score of 34 to 28.
It’s the playoffs now. What happened in the regular season means nothing. The team that plays the best on Sunday will come out on top.
If the 49ers do these things they should be able to go into Green Bay and leave with a win.
- Run the Ball: Being able to run the ball is crucial to being successful in the postseason, especially when playing in the cold. Early forecasts for Sunday is predicting the temperature to be a high of 12 degrees in Green Bay. Coach Harbaugh should put the game in the hands of running back Frank Gore and allow him to carry the ball at least 20 times. Gore is a workhorse back who ran for 1,128 yards during the regular season. The 49ers can also run the ball occasionally with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
- Stop the Run: The Packers have one of the best young running backs in rookie Eddie Lacy. Lacy has a lingering ankle injury and isn’t 100% healthy but the 49ers must still respect his ability. When quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out with his collarbone injury, Lacy was the focal point of the offense. Expect the Packers to give Lacy anywhere from 15-20 carries throughout the game. It will be up to Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and the rest of the 49ers front seven to play their physical brand of football to slow Lacy down.
- Get Off the Field on 3rd Down: The Packers offense converts 41.2% of their third downs, while the 49ers defense only allows offenses to convert at a 34.1% clip. The 49ers defense must get Aaron Rodgers and company off the field on third downs. The Packers have a great offensive group and if they can sustain drives, score points and get the crowd into it, the 49ers could be in trouble.
- Utilize All Available Offensive Weapons: When the 49ers and the Packers met back in Week 1, newly acquired wide receiver Anquan Boldin had a breakout game in his first game as a 49er. He caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was recovering from his ruptured Achilles back when the teams met during Week 1. Crabtree is now healthy and is starting to get his swagger back. Add in tight end Vernon Davis and you have multiple threats to attack a shaky Packers defense.