49ers Must Stop Davante Adams to Beat Packers
NFL Divisional - The San Francisco 49ers come into the divisional round having played three quarters of very good football this past weekend, with one quarter of bananas nonsense. The 49ers had a DVOA of 92.9% after 45 minutes of game time as an overwhelming defensive performance backed up an efficient rushing attack that had Cowboys defenders sprawling around the field. Then the fourth quarter happened, with interceptions, penalties, and terrible fourth-down decisions nearly undoing everything San Francisco had over the first three quarters. Fortunately for them, Dallas was busy making even more mistakes, and so San Francisco lives to fight another day.
Their reward? The Green Bay Packers, who played zero quarters of very good football this past weekend. They didn't have to—as the top team in the NFC by record, they earned the first-round bye and got to spend the last two weeks resting key starters and watching as a passel of injured stars work their way back for this matchup. The Packers' season-long DVOA isn't as high as their record would suggest, but they simply do not have off days. They have only had two games below a -3.0% DVOA—the Week 1 matchup against the Saints, a game which happened so long ago it may as well have featured Archie Manning and John Hadl for all it tells us about the current Packers squad, and the Week 18 game where they played the backups in the second half. If we look at weighted DVOA and remove the performances of backup quarterback Jordan Love, the Packers improve from ninth to fourth, moving ahead of the 49ers. They're rested and ready to dispel some recent playoff heartbreak in what should be a freezing cold night at Lambeau.
The two teams have met once this season already, in a game that appeared much closer than the underlying numbers would have you believe. Back in Week 3, the Packers won a thriller which required Aaron Rodgers to drive for a game-winning field goal with 37 seconds left and no timeouts to escape Santa Clara with a 30-28 victory. But by our numbers, the Packers significantly outplayed the 49ers. They had a 95% post-game win expectancy, with a 51.8% DVOA to San Francisco's -0.2%. Some terrible special teams play and untimely defensive penalties meant Green Bay nearly blew what should have been a comfortable win, requiring Rodgers to bail them out at the end.
Does that mean a rematch should see the Packers cruising if they can clean up some of their errors? Or does it mean that Green Bay barely survived an off day from a San Francisco team that has gotten much better since September? The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. The Packers are favored in this matchup, as befits the top seed coming off of a bye week, but the 49ers provide a tougher matchup for Green Bay specifically than the Rams or Buccaneers would. The Packers will have to exorcise some old demons if they don't want their Last Dance to end prematurely.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the Football Outsiders stats, they are explained at the bottom of the page. Scroll down or click this link. Game charting data appears courtesy Sports Info Solutions, unless noted. All stats represent regular season only, except for weighted DVOA and anything else specifically noted.
|DVOA||19.5% (6)||11.5% (9)|
|WEI DVOA||27.6% (4)||15.1% (9)|
|49ers on Offense|
|SF OFF||GB DEF|
|DVOA||14.9% (5)||3.6% (22)|
|WEI DVOA||14.0% (7)||2.2% (22)|
|PASS||33.2% (5)||5.8% (15)|
|RUSH||6.6% (5)||-0.1% (28)|
|Packers on Offense|
|SF DEF||GB OFF|
|DVOA||-7.0% (7)||20.2% (2)|
|WEI DVOA||-16.3% (4)||22.4% (1)|
|PASS||5.8% (16)||36.4% (2)|
|RUSH||-24.8% (2)||3.5% (8)|
|DVOA||-2.4% (26)||-5.2% (32)|
All readers can click here for the open in-game discussion thread. If you have FO+, you can click here to see all the matchup of DVOA splits for this game.
WHEN THE 49ERS HAVE THE BALL
As of press time, Jimmy Garoppolo's status for Saturday is still questionable. He was limited in practice after spraining his shoulder against the Cowboys—he fell on it awkwardly while attempting to avoid landing on his wrist, which has a torn ligament. Kyle Shanahan is being cagey about which quarterback will start against the Packers, but the best assumption is that's more a ploy to force the Packers to prepare for both Garoppolo and Trey Lance rather than a real chance Garoppolo won't start, though it's something to watch for.
Something not to watch? The Week 3 matchup. Both teams are so vastly different from where they were in September that you can throw that game plan out the window. The Packers were without Za'Darius Smith or Rasul Douglas, and Jaire Alexander went down early in the matchup. And as for the 49ers? Their leading rushers in that game were Trey Sermon and Kyle Juszczyk. Elijah Mitchell was out with a shoulder injury, and Deebo Samuel was still a wide receiver with an occasional gadget play and not a running back hybrid. In addition, Brandon Aiyuk was still in Kyle Shanahan's doghouse and the third wideout was Mohamed Sanu, not Jauan Jennings. Both from a personnel and schematic point of view, it's more useful to look at what each team has done over the past two months than it is to look at that game in September.
The first step when stopping the 49ers has to be to take away their run game, and that's a tall ask for the Packers. It's not just ranking 28th in rush defense, it's how the Packers got there—they are regularly beaten at the point of attack, as their run defense gets worse the closer to the line of scrimmage you get. They rank 31st in stuffed rate, 21st in second-level yards allowed, and third in open-field yards. And honestly, that open-field ranking might be a little misleading, as the Packers have allowed 54 running plays of 10 yards or longer this year. To put that another way, 13.4% of runs against the Packers have gone for 10 yards, fifth-most in the league and second-worst among playoff teams. They are outgunned and outmanned everywhere on the line, and the 49ers do a great job of getting to the second level and creating explosive plays for their backs. This is a massive problem for Green Bay.
The return of Smith, Alexander, and Whitney Mercilus will help against the passing attack, but they're not run defenders. Green Bay's top men in that category play on the second level—De'Vondre Campbell and Adrian Amos, most significantly. Campbell has been a huge addition to a Packers defense that has been missing inside linebacker play for years now—the three times the 49ers beat the Packers in the postseason last decade can be in large part chalked up to attacking the soft interior of Green Bay's defense. Campbell has done an excellent job clogging up rushing lanes, flowing downhill, and making tackles when they are available—he had just five broken or missed tackles all year, and his 3.3% broken tackle rate was best in the league among linebackers with at least 50 tackles per Sports Info Solutions. Campbell was second to only Micah Parsons in SIS' total points saved metric among linebackers, and Parsons got the lion's share of his value as a pass-rusher. You could make a strong argument that Campbell was the best off-ball linebacker in football this year, which is why he's your first-team All-Pro despite not making the Pro Bowl. If the Packers are going to avoid reliving the 2019 nightmare of allowing 285 rushing yards, Campbell is going to play a major reason why.
The 49ers use more pre-snap motion than any other team—74.5% of their snaps during the regular season. They especially love to use it on running plays, where they lead the league in attempts, yards, touchdowns—you name it, the 49ers' motion game is on top of the leaderboards. This is a massive stress-test for a defense, challenging players on the edge to not get drawn in by jet motion or sliding tight ends and abandoning their responsibilities. It's not a test the Packers have done very well against this year, either—59 of the 49ers' 69 rushing yards in Week 3 came off of motion, and the Packers were burned badly by motion in the running game against the Ravens and Browns in December.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we saw Kevin Stefanski's Browns attacking with motion and plenty of outside zone, going around the interior of the defense and attacking the cornerbacks directly. They rushed for 219 yards; that's a real danger for the Packers again this week against another team that likes to do that, only better. But back in Week 3, Green Bay countered this by doubling up edge defenders on a large number of snaps, giving extra help outside, and the 49ers couldn't counter that with more runs up the middle. Kenny Clark had a great day against the interior of the 49ers' line, preventing anything from getting going between the tackles. That may be the Packers' best hope once again—bringing those extra bodies towards the edge to try to contain the speed of Samuel and Mitchell to the outside, and hoping that Clark or Dean Lowry or someone steps up and plays better than they have for most of the year to help Campbell in the middle of the field. If they can't contain the 49ers around the edge, the Packers are going to have a long day on defense, and it's no fun playing defense in single-degree weather when your opponent is running the ball effectively.
We saw what happens when the 49ers' offense is ticking on the first drive against the Cowboys, with San Francisco averaging 10 yards per play. Every play fed off one another—the run game setting up the play-action passing attack; motion priming the defense to look for one thing, and then running the counter to that with the same pre-snap look later on; and so on and so forth. We also saw what happens when the 49ers' offense is not ticking with the fourth-quarter collapse. When the offense is flowing, Jimmy Garoppolo can process quickly, find Samuel or Kittle or Aiyuk in open space, and set up massive YAC opportunities. When those early reads are gone, however, that's when you start seeing the overthrows, the underthrows, and the ohnothrows. Jaire Alexander's interception back in Week 3 was on the patented Garoppolo arm punt as the 49ers tried to force Kittle deep. Garoppolo is not the type of quarterback to throw a guy open or make a great play with his arms and legs to turn a disaster into something positive. Garoppolo keeps the offense moving when it's on schedule but gets into trouble when he's forced to play hero ball. This is where the Packers can attack and get those crucial turnovers and third-down stops.
We'll have to see what Za'Darius Smith can do in his first action since Week 1. Last season, Smith was in the top 20 in quarterback knockdowns, hurries, and defeats, and that counted as a down year for him. A fully healthy Smith would be a boon for a Packers team that is in the middle of the pack in terms of pressure rate. The question is whether or not Smith is fully healthy, or fully back in game shape to play his usual workload. I'd expect him to play more of a situational role in his first game back, coming in on obvious passing downs to spare his stamina some. But even adding a partial Smith to Preston Smith and Rashan Gary is a win. And if Whitney Mercilus can join in the rotation too, so much the better. Garoppolo has not been pressured much this season; ESPN has him with 110 plays under pressure, last among starting quarterbacks. But when he has been pressured, it has not gone well—a QBR of 9.7 and a 51.9% completion rate. He does average over 6 yards per attempt, but that requires him to actually get the ball off; only Justin Fields, Carson Wentz, and Joe Burrow got hit more under pressure than Garoppolo did. He's already nursing a bad wrist and a gimpy shoulder; if the Packers can force the 49ers to lean on their passing attack, they can beat Garoppolo up. Make him feel those injuries; he won't want to come out, and an improbable number of his bad games (see: Tennessee, the fourth quarter against Dallas, 2020 Miami) have come when he has tried to gut through a mid-game injury.
Green Bay's coverage has been sharp all season long—seventh against both No. 1 and No. 2 wideouts, third against other wide receivers. Jaire Alexander returning should help boost that even further, though neither Rasul Douglas nor Eric Stokes seem ideal for playing in the slot upon Alexander's return. That falls into the category of good problems to have, and maybe it's Alexander in the middle this week against Samuel when he's lined up as a receiver, leaving Douglas and Stokes to take care of Aiyuk. Where the Packers' pass attack is weak, however, is against tight ends, where they rank 28th and allow 50.4 yards per game. Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, Travis Kelce—against high-quality pass-catching tight ends, the Packers have struggled. That includes George Kittle in Week 3, when he caught seven passes for 92 yards. Kittle wasn't used much at all as a receiver against Dallas; that may change in this matchup.
WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL
An offensive game plan can be considered a complicated flowchart, with checks, audibles, and progressions multiplying dramatically when you have a legend like Aaron Rodgers under center. This week's plan, crafted carefully in long hours by Matt LaFleur, goes as follows:
Step one: is Davante Adams single-covered? If so, throw him the football. If not, run whatever other play you were going to originally run.
Sometimes, it really is that simple. The 49ers get into trouble when their secondary has to hold up for any significant period of time against top players, and Adams is toppermost of the top. Back in Week 3, he had 12 receptions for 132 yards and a score. The 49ers do not have a cornerback who can match up against him. They don't really have a cornerback-safety duo who can bracket him and limit his numbers. They might be able to slow him down a little with zone coverages and flowing to him to prevent YAC, but Adams is going to get his. The 49ers secondary has improved since Week 3, with K'Waun Williams and Ambry Thomas replacing Deommodore Lenoir and Josh Norman, but that just means they have gone from unbelievably bad to, well, believably bad.
San Francisco has actually risen all the way to 10th in pass defense DVOA if you include the postseason, clocking in at a respectable 1.3%. However, that falls to 24.2% if you only look at passes that were actually thrown, which ranks 17th. And they fall all they way to 138.5% on deep passes, last in the league. Those ranks improve if you look just over the last 10 weeks, but only to sixth, 15th, and 30th. If you have time to throw against the 49ers, big plays are there. And if you have time to throw with the presumptive MVP quarterback and the first-team All-Pro receiver, you win the game. Rodgers-to-Adams isn't just the Packers' best offensive option; it's their best defensive option. Pile on enough points early, and the 49ers will have to go away from their running attack. If this game turns into a shootout, the Packers have the quarterback who's better off taking shots. Garoppolo can't go toe-to-toe with Rodgers.
The reason, of course, the 49ers jump into the top 10 in overall pass defense is their pass rush, which has been a real problem for any team to deal with over the last half of the season. The 49ers hit Matt Stafford and Dak Prescott 27 times over the past two weeks, and the Rams and Cowboys haven't exactly been sieves this season; they rank in the top 10 in adjusted sack rate, as do the Packers. We mentioned Garoppolo's poor numbers against pressure, but Rodgers hasn't been much better, with a QBR of 9.3 and just a 38.1% completion rate. Part of that is Rodgers wisely throwing the ball away rather than taking hits, but even the Packers' passing attack is vulnerable if pressured.
Health is going to play a huge factor in this one. Nick Bosa is the lynchpin of the San Francisco pass rush, but he's still in concussion protocol. The 49ers are optimistic he'll be cleared for the game, even on the short turnaround, but they don't have any control there. The 49ers aren't short of good pass-rushers—Arik Armstead has exploded since being moved inside and is on a tear with 4.0 sacks and 13 pressures in the last three weeks, and San Francisco has gotten more out of Arden Key and Charles Omenihu than they ever produced at previous stops, but Bosa is the guy you have to scheme specifically to protect yourself against. Without him, the Packers' job would get much easier.
Also helping the Packers out is the fact that they'll be near full-strength on the offensive line for the first time all year. David Bakhtiari and Josh Myers got a little work against Detroit to help them round back into shape after missing most of 2021, and it looks like Billy Turner will be back as well. Getting three starters back into the lineup is huge for Green Bay—it's not that Yosh Nijman or Dennis Kelly have been particularly bad this year, but they're not Bakhtiari or Turner. It also probably sends Royce Newman back to the bench and lets Lucas Patrick slide from center to his more natural guard position; the Packers would prefer Elgton Jenkins there, but Newman and Patrick were the two worst linemen the Packers had this season, so replacing one and letting the other play his more natural role is a win as well. I would expect San Francisco to continue to attack Patrick and Turner and the right side of the line in general, as that would still be the weak point against the pass rush, but if all of the Packers returnees are able to play up to their usual standards, Green Bay is in a much better situation than they were a month ago. That is a big "if," mind you, especially for Bakhtiari, who hasn't played a full game since December 2020 and is still limited in practice. Expect the 49ers to test him early, but if there's a tackle out there who can come in after a year and provide top-tier offensive play, it's Bakhtiari.
The Packers did two things to dampen the 49ers' pass rush in Week 3, both to some success. The first is simple: get the ball of out Rodgers' hands quickly, before the pass rush has time to get there. Rodgers' average time to throw against San Francisco was just 2.38 seconds, per Next Gen Stats. That's one of the 30 fastest games for any quarterback this year, and even for the usually decisive Rodgers, it was speedy—he only threw the ball quicker against the Cardinals and Browns this season. These weren't just quick dump-offs to get the pressure of his back, either. Rodgers averaged 12.9 air yards per throw against the 49ers, significantly above his average of 7.9 for the year. That's a combination of Rodgers' exceptional quick processing power, Adams' ability to burst off of the line, and the 49ers' inability to cover anybody deep. All of that should still be in place on Saturday.
The other way the Packers slowed the 49ers pass rush down was with a strong rushing attack from Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. We mentioned the 49ers like to use motion in their running attack to catch aggressive defenses off balance? Well, Matt LaFleur learned the same lessons under Shanahan in Houston, Washington, and Atlanta, and the Packers run many of the same concepts to great success themselves. The 49ers know they have to get after Rodgers to have a chance in this one; the Packers' strong counter running game can catch them zigging one way and zag the other for significant gains. That worked like a charm in Week 3, but the 49ers have gotten sturdier up front since them. When Javon Kinlaw was ruled out and Arik Armstead moved to the inside after Week 8, the 49ers' rush defense DVOA jumped from -10.9% to a league-best -29.8%; it took a while to get everyone in the right place, but the results since midseason have been unparalleled. It's still worth the Packers' while to test that run defense—check how Fred Warner does coming back from his low-ankle sprain and see if you can't work in some hesitation from those San Francisco pass-rushers—but I would expect the sledding to be tougher for Green Bay this week than it was back in September.
The 49ers have the second-worst special teams unit in the NFC when you include the postseason. They had the worst kick-return unit in the league at -9.8 estimated points of field position below average. Their kickoff team was third-worst at -7.0, as well. And they just allowed a huge conversion on a fake punt against Dallas, when former starting cornerback Josh Norman decided that no, no one needed to cover the gunner, it was probably fine. They do, at least, have Mitch Wishnowsky and a punting unit that ranked fifth at +5.2 points.
The Green Bay Packers have the worst special teams unit in the NFC—and, indeed, in the league as a whole. Mason Crosby has led Green Bay to the worst field goal/extra point ranking in the league at -12.7 points. That's the worst the franchise has seen since 1988, when a rotating cast of kickers managed to make just 52% of their field goals. Crosby hasn't been that bad, but he's down at 73.5%, including just 81.2% from inside 40 yards, which should be automatic in this day and age. The Packers also rank 31st in kickoff returns, 30th in punt returns, and 25th in kickoffs, though they are at least 17th in punts.
Suffice it to say, neither of these teams want the game to be decided on special teams.
Our model favors the Packers, with the most confidence of the four games this week. They have the benefit of the bye, allowing them to rest and get healthy. They have home-field advantage, even if that's not as strong as it has been in the past. They haven't played a terrible game since Week 1. They have the better quarterback and the stronger passing attack, against a team which struggles against strong quarterbacks and strong passing attacks. They have the more experienced team from a postseason perspective. They have a coach who is unlikely to fritter away win probability with conservative fourth-down decisions. The Packers are the pick.
And yet, with all that being said, Green Bay would likely feel a bit more comfortable if they had gotten Arizona, Los Angeles, or Philadelphia, their other possible matchups for this week. If Green Bay has an Achilles' heel, it's the run defense, and Kyle Shanahan's 49ers have had a history of exploiting it. In their four matchups since Shanahan and LaFleur took over their respective teams, the 49ers are averaging a 37.2% DVOA to Green Bay's -4.8%, and that gap just gets wider if you exclude the 2020 Nick Mullens game. It's not 2019 anymore. The Packers were the better team when they played earlier this season. And yet, no one would blame Packers fans from being a little nervous about this one coming up.
The winner of this game will probably be the team with the defense that withstands the onslaught the best. If the Packers can stuff Samuel and Mitchell like they did Sermon back in Week 3, they should win. If the 49ers can knock Rodgers around like they did two years ago, they're in it with a great chance. At the end of the day, though, if this one is close coming down to the wire, you side with the team with the presumptive MVP and the coach willing to trust his offense on fourth downs.
DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) breaks down each play of the season and compares it to the NFL average based on situation and opponent. You'll find it explained further here. Since DVOA measures ability to score, a negative DVOA indicates a better defense and worse offense, and a positive DVOA indicates a better offense and worse defense.
Team DVOA numbers incorporate all plays; since passing is generally more efficient than rushing, the average for passing is actually above 0% while the average for rushing is below 0%.
SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are different; they represent value in points of extra field position gained compared to NFL average. Field goal rating represents points scored compared to average kicker at same distances. All special teams numbers are adjusted by weather and altitude; the total is then translated into DVOA so it can be compared to offense and defense. Those numbers are explained here.
Each team is listed with DVOA for offense and defense, total along with rush and pass, and rank among the 32 teams in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are difficult to understand, it is easy to just look at the ranks.) We also list WEIGHTED DVOA (WEI DVOA), which is based on a formula which drops the value of games early in the season to get a better idea of how teams are playing now (explained here).
Each team also gets a chart showing their performance this year, game-by-game, according to total DVOA. In addition to a line showing each game, another line shows the team's trend for the season, using a rolling average of the last five games. Note that even though the chart appears in the section for when each team has the ball, it represents total performance, not just offense.
53 comments, Last at 24 Jan 2022, 5:30pm
#1 by big10freak // Jan 21, 2022 - 11:21am
Mike Homgren inspired his 1995 Packer team to upset a Niners team with this simple pregame message; Sometimes football is just about kicking 8ss
Don’t expect GB to be tougher. Just be tough. You get punched you counter. If they go toe to toe slugging it out and lose so be it
#13 by bravehoptoad // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:39pm
Joe Staley had an interesting take on this decision to make the game a particularly physical one:
Staley said being a physical football team isn’t something you can just turn on when you feel like it.
“That’s something that is built through the draft, through bringing guys in with the right mentality,” Staley said on Papa & Lund Monday. “You either are that or you’re not. You don’t just show up in Week 18 and say ‘alright, well the formula for today’s game is that we have to be the most physical team, so we’re just going to do that and that’s going to work.’
P.S. I would take the 49ers straight up if they had Jason Verrett at CB. Without him, yeesh, that's a sketchy group.
#37 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 21, 2022 - 8:42pm
In response to both posts. I agree with BigTenFreak that the simple Holmgren motivator worked for that team. To go into more detail and tie it to the Staley quote, the Holmgren Packers always had more than a bit of physicality to them. Those were teams with some bruisers playing OL (and some aging vets), Favre being compared to playing QB like a LB, White and Jones and Butler playing D. They were always more physical than a lot of people though. So while I agree with the Staley quote, the Holmgren quote was more about, OK the whole game is going to be about the physical stuff we do. They weren't turning it on from off, they were turning it up from 7 to 10, which is a different deal and something effective that team could do.
The current Packers are more physical than people might think too. The OL guys they have been bringing in recently tend to be consider more road graders than pass blockers. They have WRs like Lazard who have pancaked DB's while blocking them. Dillon is about the epitome of the modern NFL "big man doing big man things" RB, something that is less common now a days. While the DL is not great they aren't technique over strength type of guys, they just aren't very good outside of Clark. Campbell is not soft as a LB. Preston Smith has his issues but he is more of a power rusher than a speed rusher, actually so is Gary thinking about it. With Kevin King rarely playing most of the secondary is at least NFL average DB at willingness to tackle if not more than average. In fairness King has been a better and more willing tackler this year under Barry too, I think Barry has been coaching that mentality.
They aren't quite the Holmgren teams but if you could quantify physicality they are clearly more physical than the McCarthy teams and could dial it up from 5 or 6 to 8 or 9 maybe if they wanted to get into a "brawl". This isn't the McCarthy Packers who were getting to 5 when they dialed it up. (I'm not saying the McCarthy Packers were soft but I agree that winning in the trenches and knocking the other guy on his ass whenever you could were not priorities of his).
LaFleur and Gutekunst have been trending towards a more "down and dirty" type of player, so exactly what Staley was getting at. It's in how you build the team. Having Aaron Rodgers kinda hides that some, but it's there and trending more strongly.
#2 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 11:30am
They have only had two games below a -3.0% DVOA—the Week 1 matchup against the Saints, a game which happened so long ago it may as well have featured Archie Manning and John Hadl for all it tells us about the current Packers squad
It also tells us almost nothing about the current Saints squad.
#3 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 21, 2022 - 11:34am
But I am also still fuming over the fact MVS is doubtful because he played a meaningless game @ Detroit in which he got directly hurt (Bak is questionable and also played for some reason, but we already won without him against them this season).
I wouldn't think I would be here going hard for him but the last two meetings vs the 49ers he's went for:
- 3/4 for 59 and a TD on 40 snaps
- 2/4 for 53 and 2 TDs on 59 snaps
and the only time it was SF@GB he went for:
- 3/6 for 103 on 66 snaps
and the last time we met SF in the playoffs, he only played 1 snap.
No fumbles in any of them. May not sound spectacular but he's our only stretch WR and being able to have him forces an already iffy secondary. Maybe someone else steps up (ESB?) but that's why I don't like the process. Let the dudes heal up. Especially a guy that has already been on IR (aka somewhat significant injury).
Either way, from what I've heard, don't touch GB -6. Even if I still think/want GB to win.
#4 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 11:38am
The Packers are favored in this matchup, as befits the top seed coming off of a bye week, but the 49ers provide a tougher matchup for Green Bay specifically than the Rams or Buccaneers would. The Packers will have to exorcise some old demons if they don't want their Last Dance to end prematurely.
We seem oddly fixated on the 2019-2020 season results. These aren't those Packers or 49ers teams.
The question I have is: Do I trust Jimmy Garoppolo at Lambeau in January, at 12 degrees F? No. No I do not.
In their four matchups since Shanahan and LaFleur took over their respective teams, the 49ers are averaging a 37.2% DVOA to Green Bay's -4.8%,
In one of those weird schedule quirks, all those games have been in Santa Clara.
#5 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 21, 2022 - 11:57am
IDK if that's the way to attack it.
Jimmy was born in Illinois. Went to HS in Illinois. Played college in Illinois. Played in NE. And in his passer rating in "cold" weather games is better than his "mild" and "warm"
Jimmy G just isn't great in general though. I wouldn't trust him out dueling Aaron flippin Rodgers (again).
#6 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 12:29pm
Well, he played college ball in southern Illinois and stood on the sideline in New England.
JG's career experience in "cold" games is mop-up in 2016 against the Jets and a loss in 2019 to the Ravens. Both games were at 40 degrees. He threw a combined total of 23 passes.
He didn't play many cold-weather college games, and his record wasn't great in them.
#7 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 21, 2022 - 12:51pm
He didn't play many cold-weather college games, and his record wasn't great in them.
Might want to provide a source for that but...
Aaron is from Cali. Favre from Mississippi. Just because he hasn't played that many doesn't mean it's what you should hinge your bets on lol
Also Eastern Illinois (University!) to be exact. Maybe middle Illinois to be fair. As if North-South that makes a huge difference in IL. It's currently 22 there now, same as in Chicago (northern). It's still midwest cold.
I don't think many are picking the 49ers straight up though. I wouldn't bother with what seems like a myth (it's cold therefore QB that hasn't played most his game like that is gonna fail completely! No ways to compensate!). Just like I wouldn't put much stock into night games or not Sun/Mon days
#8 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:01pm
My suspicion is more JG's inability to see linebackers than it is the weather. The Lambeau effect isn't an pronounced as it used to be. But it's not nothing, and the myth of the Packers inability to solve the 49ers is itself a myth based upon on year and a 4-game streak of 49ers home games.
Of some concern, trying to play in extremely cold conditions with a thumb and shoulder injury on your throwing arm is not ideal.
As for EIU, FCS doesn't play much after Thanksgiving, and almost entirely in the playoffs. EIU only played three playoff games with JG. They went 1-2, with one blowout win and one blowout loss, and a come from ahead loss to Towson, 49-39, where they gave up 354 rushing yards to one back.
#21 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 21, 2022 - 3:52pm
Yeah definitely that more so than midwest guy drafted by NE playing in the cold.
Like said below, they're different teams for but there are some similarities from a couple years ago. Not EVERYTHING has changed.
Injury concerns are themselves. Cold doesn't have anything to do with it much. Otherwise we would be concerned with Rodgers toe (wish it was given rest @ Detroit but alas)
#14 by Bryan Knowles // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:53pm
I think it's fair to consider the 2019 season results, as you've got the same playcallers in the same systems. Some of the personnel is different, and each team has evolved since then (the Packers notably for the better), but it's not too different than the 'can Manning beat Belichick?' thoughts from so long ago, even as personnel changed around them.
What I've been rolling my eyes at are people bringing up the Colin Kaepernick games from the early 2010s, with the thought that maybe Trey Lance is going to run all over them or something. THAT'S a lifetime ago, in NFL terms, and these aren't those 49ers or Packers. Might as well try to rehash whether Jerry Rice caught it or not for the umpteenth time for all the good that will do.
#35 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 21, 2022 - 7:38pm
Normally what happened 2 seasons ago really doesn't matter but this team is a bit different beyond just very similar coaching staffs still.
I was surprised by the Packers low missed tackle count in Walkthrough and actually went through defensive snap counts for the team for 19, 20, and 21 in post 7 and while the linebacker usage has changed a fair bit because a different MLB each year and major injuries this year the key players and usage really isn't that different for the last few seasons. (Though I did find out most of the drop in missed tackles was getting Campbell at MLB and getting Kevin King off the field at CB).
Of course every team changes even during the year as already mentioned week 1 2021 GB looks a lot different than playoff GB. But the roster continuity and usage under LaFleur has been more stable than I think is typical, at least on defense. Offense will see a lot more change.
Though as a fan the smaller changes have almost all been in the positive direction. More Stokes and Douglas, less end of career Tramon Williams and failed draft pick Kevin King. Campbell instead of Martinez or Kirksey. AJ Dillon instead of Jamaal Williams. More Lazard, MVS, and Cobb less Geronimo Allison and Jake Kumerow.
So yeah I'm OK with a little of analysis going back to earlier this season and even a few years back, with the caveats that have all basically been mentioned. 70% of the players are probably the same, but the changes in 30% do matter. Which is what was said in the article already when looking at the previous match-up. The changes for SF have improved them the results are there on the field. The changes for GB should improve them but are untested since many of them are related to players coming back from injury and in the case of the cornerbacks potentially having to do something they haven't done a lot of.
As Flounder pointed out with Z. Smith and Mercilus any snaps they take even if they aren't fully up to speed is less snaps for Tipa Galeai and Jonathan Garvin on D and that is probably a positive. Out of position Alexander, Douglas, or Stokes is still probably better than Kevin King anywhere. Chandon Sullivan is the other most likely displaced corner and while some situations I think he would be just as good as Alexander, Douglas, or Stokes doing his job there are some others where they would be an upgrade, like any time the offense manages to get a #2 receiver isolated on him.
So yeah the changes can matter. As was rightly pointed out in the article this is likely a close match-up and those margins can kick in.
#9 by Kaepernicus // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:02pm
Nobody is bringing up all the pressure on GB. I remember watching Steve Young do dumb uncharacteristic stuff in the 90's when he was 0-4 against Favre and GB. It took everything they had to finally take them out at home with the catch 2 at the last second. Those Packers teams matched up really well with some very tough SF teams who had better players because of coaching familiarity and general team construction. I want to know how good the GB quick passing game can be without the threat of the run. SF was forced to move the safeties up because they were getting beat consistently on inside runs for 4-6 yards a play. SF has given up <90 yards rushing, to offenses because Seattle got over on a fake punt, in every game since week 10. When you can have a great pass rush and rushing defense at the same time it becomes a huge problem for opposing offenses to do anything effectively. Barring key injuries or a TO fest by SF this game is riding on an all-time great performance from Aaron and Adams to cover. In 2 different halves of football SF has dominated the Rams and Cowboys significantly better defenses on the road before or after Jimmy TO nonsense keeping it close. They did it to the Rams without Trent Williams in the lineup. The 49ers are surging in all of their strength areas and dominating top competition on the road for stretches will hurting themselves with self-inflicted errors. Also if MVS is out, as ImNew laid out so well, that removes a ton of pressure on Ryans to respect the non-Adams weapons over the top which means he will be able to roll coverage to Adams even more. I am not saying that a 49ers victory is certain or GB has no chance. I am just a bit concerned that the media and public are really understating how even this match up is and setting up GB for a lot of awful blow back if they lose a game that is this close to a 50-50 proposition analytically where strengths on both sides nearly perfectly line up with weaknesses on the other. Rodgers and Peyton Manning have been given a raw deal their whole careers because of narratives that have very little objective basis due to games like this. If GB loses this game it is probably because they got beat by a better team overall at this point in the season. The 49ers have gone 2-1 against Ten, LA, and Dal in the last 3 Jimmy starts on the road while he threw 2 tds and 5 ints. They have beat or almost beat 3 playoff teams while Jimmy played like crap. What happens if he doesn't throw a pick? How much better is GB than those three teams? Either way SF is playing with house money at this point so I am just psyched to watch the game and enjoy. Even if the get blown out due to a Jimmy disaster I won't care because it will make the decision to move on that easy for the FO. Welcome to our side of the coin in the 90's GB fans, if you win it will feel amazing.
#12 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:38pm
Barring key injuries or a TO fest by SF this game is riding on an all-time great performance from Aaron and Adams to cover.
I am not saying that a 49ers victory is certain or GB has no chance. I am just a bit concerned that the media and public are really understating how even this match up is and setting up GB for a lot of awful blow back if they lose a game that is this close to a 50-50 proposition analytically where strengths on both sides nearly perfectly line up with weaknesses on the other.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait: first, are you trying to tell me that a great passing team going up against a terrible pass defense will require "an all-time great performance" from the league's presumptive back-to-back MVP and an All-Pro receiver just to cover a 6-point spread? Really? Seems to me like if they show up and do their usual thing, they'll be fine.
And the idea that this game "is this close to a 50-50 proposition analytically" is undercut badly by FO's own projection, which considers the Packers a 5.8-point favorite, which translates to nearly 70%. That's hardly "a 50-50 proposition analytically."
Look, styles make fights, and you're 100% correct when you say that each team's strengths line up very well with the other team's weaknesses. But whenever the Niners come up short on the ground, their reward will be Jimmy G in obvious passing situations, whereas bad first and second downs by the Packers will be punished with ... third and long against a bad pass defense. I like San Francisco to go into Lambeau and do their thing, but it's almost certainly not going to take "an all-time great performance" to cover that spread. It just isn't.
#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 2:30pm
But whenever the Niners come up short on the ground, their reward will be Jimmy G in obvious passing situations, whereas bad first and second downs by the Packers will be punished with ... third and long against a bad pass defense.
This is perhaps the most succinct statement I've seen of why modern offenses work the way they work.
#16 by Kaepernicus // Jan 21, 2022 - 2:51pm
FO has added a caveat to that bad pass defense narrative by eliminating the plays ruined by the SF pass rush the last half of the season. The best example of a team that has done that against this version of the team without turn overs was the Bengals. That game going to overtime required Joe Burrow going completely insane while throwing under pressure. He had an unreal game and Chase scored 2 tds. If you include all of the sacks it is the 6th best pass defense since week 10. Assuming the pass rush will suddenly not be as important against GB after it wrecked 2 O-lines that are better, by most measures I have seen, is a huge exception to just throw out there. Why exactly is this dominant pass rush, with Bosa playing as of now, going to stop destroying top offenses against GB? If I take the weighted DVOA since week 10, when personnel and scheme changes were made, and compare it to other teams in the tables the team they resemble most is New Orleans who destroyed the Packers in week 1. I am having a lot of trouble understanding why we are spending so much time assuming Rodgers will have a ton of time to exploit the deep passing deficiency on SF. So much of this review is assuming the best case scenario for GB and the worst case scenario for SF. Why not just go full ESPN and say something like Aaron good + Jimmy bad + GB home/cold = GB win. In their last 2 relevant games they beat Baltimore by 1 with Huntley at QB and Cleveland by 2 with 1 armed Baker Mayfield. Give me an actual reason Aaron will have more time to go deep than any of the other QBs that have played SF since week 10.
#18 by Aaron Brooks G… // Jan 21, 2022 - 3:34pm
Why exactly is this dominant pass rush, with Bosa playing as of now, going to stop destroying top offenses against GB?
There is zero reason. You're gonna win by 21. Bet the house. A loss would involve a massive organizational choke.
#27 by Pat // Jan 21, 2022 - 5:15pm
I am having a lot of trouble understanding why we are spending so much time assuming Rodgers will have a ton of time to exploit the deep passing deficiency on SF.
Because 1) Adams is really, really good and 2) their offensive line is very strong at run blocking, which is a good way to abuse an aggressive defensive line and get them off-balance.
I mean, you're obviously taking things to an extreme - I don't think Rodgers is going to sit back there having tea and crumpets and they're gonna go up and down the field at will or anything. But this...
That game going to overtime required Joe Burrow going completely insane while throwing under pressure. He had an unreal game and Chase scored 2 tds.
doesn't make me terrified for Green Bay. Joe Burrow having an "unreal" game is like... every other week for Rodgers. And Ja'Marr Chase is a all-time great rookie, but he's still just a rookie. Adams is a better receiver. Even if they only send three out on routes, Adams is going to get open.
Again, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Green Bay's gonna roll San Francisco or that the 49ers have no chance to win. But Green Bay definitely should be favored. The Packers are a much better offense than anyone the 49ers have faced since Week 10.
#31 by Kaepernicus // Jan 21, 2022 - 6:37pm
I took the 49ers +6 and the over 46.5 based on the fact that Rodgers is terrible when pressured and GB has one of the worst run defenses in the entire NFL. I still think it is one possession because I definitely see Rodgers hitting 3-4 deep shots in the game off of sheer talent and Adams having a huge mismatch to take advantage of. I am betting on Kyle not keeping completely useless injured Jimmy in the game too long if it is obvious he can't play. Might be a stupid bet but I have had a really good year betting in general and like the 49ers while playing with house money. I get a strong feeling the game is going to come down to kicks from Gould and Crosby in some capacity
#45 by Jackson87 // Jan 22, 2022 - 10:18am
But I think Niners are the obvious pick of the week. It's very easy to visualize them running all over the Packers D- I mean, I watched the Bears do it not too long ago.
I also like TB, as the Rams are a west coast team on short rest playing Sunday at 1.
#48 by Pat // Jan 22, 2022 - 1:11pm
Saying the 49ers will keep it close isn't the same as thinking the 49ers line is going to dominate. I don't bet, but taking the 49ers +6 doesn't strike me as a huge vote of confidence.
I totally could see either a close game of a Green Bay blowout (if Garoppolo self-destructs). I don't see how a 49ers blowout happens.
#50 by bravehoptoad // Jan 22, 2022 - 5:28pm
Only way I can see a 49ers blowout is if they hit Rodgers early and often. He can get skittish and start dumping the ball too quickly. If the 49ers can string together some of those patented 8-minute rushing drives and GB gets some 3-and-outs because Rodgers is throwing the ball away, then maybe a blowout. It happened in 2019.
Odds of that seem low, admittedly.
#36 by DisplacedPackerFan // Jan 21, 2022 - 8:14pm
Assuming the pass rush will suddenly not be as important against GB after it wrecked 2 O-lines that are better, by most measures I have seen, is a huge exception to just throw out there.
Well the GB line is better than people think and Dallas is worse than people think at pass blocking and LA is worse than people think at run blocking. Though all three are good to great
ESPN Pass Block Win Rate:
1. Los Angeles Rams, 68%
5. Green Bay Packers, 66%
23. Dallas Cowboys, 58%
FO Adjusted Sack Rate
6. Green Bay Packers, 5.1%
7. Los Angeles Rams, 5.2%
9. Dallas Cowboys, 5.6%
ESPN Run Block Win Rate:
4. Green Bay Packers, 73%
6. Dallas Cowboys, 73%
12. Los Angeles Rams, 71%
FO Adjusted Line Yards
2. Dallas Cowboys, 4.80
3. Green Bay Packers, 4.79
6. Los Angeles Rams, 4.62
Of course that is over the season and as I've mentioned and I think you and I even talked about a bit in other threads, we've never seen the GB line that will play in this game. For 8 games GB had 1 preferred starter in their preferred position. GB had 2 preferred starters in the preferred positions for 5 games this year. For the first 2 series against DET they had 3. For the other 3, including BAL and CLE they had 0. They did have 1 preferred starter, Patrick on the field but he was playing C and he is their 3rd-5th best lineman depending on who you ask (no one puts him in front of Bakh or Jenkins but I can see arguments to put him ahead of Meyers or Turner). So having potentially 4 preferred starters in their preferred spots for a line that already was one of the best in the league is a potential reason.
The other reason is that GB is better at pass blocking than Dallas and better at run blocking than LA. That combo does mean they can dictate things to SF a little better, though not a lot, than either DAL or LAR could. Rodgers is better at reading a front and seeing if they are going to pull a run stunt or pass rush and making adjustments to protection or changing the play than either Stafford or Prescott. Some of that is captured in the stats I listed because the run and pass blocking will tend to be in more favorable situations for the offense but I don't think all of that is. I also think that while Kupp clearly had a better statistical season than Adams (even if you factor in that Adams had 1 fewer game) that the skill set Adams has is still more of an issue for SF. I also think the times when the GB pass blocking does win (and they will win some of them) and Rodgers has time what he can do with that time is more dangerous than what Prescott or Stafford could do because I think he is better than either of them. That last point is mitigated somewhat if the dumb decision to play MVS against DET means he isn't available but even with that he's still more dangerous than the other 2 you mentioned.
Now having said that, do I think the SF pass rush, especially if Bosa clears concussion protocol is going to be an issue? Yes very much so. But there are analytical reasons to think GB can deal with it better than either LAR or DAL did even before you look at players coming back from injury. Also as the article already pointed out the right side of the GB line is the least talented regardless of who is playing and it can and will be exploited at times and could be the reason for a huge leverage play happening in favor of SF.
I fully expect this to be a one score game, it does worry me. I just wanted to address that one point since I don't think anyone else had.
#11 by edholiday // Jan 21, 2022 - 1:29pm
Two (of the many) aspects that concerned me about the Cowboys loss to the 49ers were the personnel choices and preparation on D. Dallas started the 1st half with 5 DBs on the field, 3 of which were CBs against a team that everyone knew would be running the ball. I would have thought a traditional 4/3/4 D would be more appropriate for, you know, tackling. Or even playing a 5/2/4 or even 3 safeties just to change things up focusing a bit more on the running game.
Also, I lost track of how many times SF was successful (FO definition) on 2nd and long by Jimmy turning around and handing the ball off. It was as if the possibility didn't even exist that they would run the ball in those circumstances. Very frustrating.
I recommend GB NOT do what the Cowboys did, especially with the weather forecast. SF are going to run the ball.
I'm not too concerned if Dan Quinn or Moore get poached by other teams. In fact I would welcome a wholesale change of coaches (not going to happen) except I would not want to lose Fassel!
#32 by Romodini // Jan 21, 2022 - 6:44pm
Quinn could probably be replaced by Vic Fangio or Mike Zimmer without any drop-off. But who would replace Moore? No doubt McCarthy would call his own plays (it's difficult for him to manage a game even without doing that) or hire another buddy like Mike Nolan, which is truly a scary thought.
#17 by ChrisLong // Jan 21, 2022 - 3:12pm
I’d just like to say that as a football fan I am really looking forward to this game and all the others this weekend. Some great matchups.
As a Packers fan: Even if Packers D gets beat by run game consistently I still like their chances. They are at a disadvantage there no doubt but as long as they don’t get absolutely steamrolled they will get wins on some plays and force the Niners into passing downs. I can say this all with a straight face and feel good about the logic but I’m definitely nervous too. Getting rolled by the Niners two years ago was traumatic!
#22 by Flounder // Jan 21, 2022 - 4:02pm
But it's not the 3rd new DC in three years. Pettine was the DC for three seasons (2018 through 2020) and Barry is new this year.
Dom Capers was hired in 2009.
So Barry would be the 3rd new DC in 12 years.
#23 by Flounder // Jan 21, 2022 - 4:12pm
Both Za'Darius Smith and Whitney Mercilus were activate of IR today, which, per LaFleur's comments yesterday, means that both are definitely playing tomorrow.
I would assume snaps will be limited for both, but if they're playing, that means Tipa Galeai and Jonathan Garvin go back to special-teams only players, and that is an unequivocally good thing for GB.
#28 by big10freak // Jan 21, 2022 - 5:16pm
The rare 'trickle down' effect that is a net positive. Having good players on the roster means limited players who CAN make a contribution on special teams replace players really not capable of performing ST at a good or high level
#24 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 21, 2022 - 4:30pm
And anyone else who can offer an informed opinion, of course :)
I've seen a lot of love for DeMeco Ryans, but I'm not sure why. Robert Saleh did well with that defense, and then he left for New York, and the Jets' defense sucked because it doesn't have the talent Saleh had in San Francisco. So here comes Ryans, and he inherits the same talented defense (secondary excluded!) that turned Saleh into a hot coaching candidate, and suddenly he's a darling in the eyes of many. Is Ryans doing anything that has substantially improved on Saleh's performance, or has he simply inherited a good squad that you'd have to be a clown to mess up (cf. McCarthy, Mike)?
#26 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 21, 2022 - 5:13pm
But allowing less points in more games (including the postseason one!) is something. Also did better by yards. Higher DSRS too. All with a mediocre secondary seems important in this passing league. Oh, and Fred Warner.
What needs to be explained is, Josh McCown, still, being a thing (for HC, QB coach would be fine but that's not what's goin down).
#38 by Tutenkharnage // Jan 21, 2022 - 9:13pm
Strength of schedule, opposing quarterbacks, or opposing OLs, for example. Heck, even just season-to-season variance. I'm wondering whether he's doing anything different schematically that might demonstrate that he's actually improving on what he inherited when Saleh left. Is he more aggressive? Less? Are they a more effective blitzing team now? Things like that.
#51 by ImNewAroundThe… // Jan 22, 2022 - 7:15pm
Sometimes not screwing up is helpful. TN probably wishes they still had Arthur Smith over Todd Downing. Ryans has at least a direct hand in Warner. And it's not like Warner was a guarantee being a 3rd round pick either. Azeez Al-Shaair is an UDFA and he graded as the 20th best LB this year too out of 89 qualified.
At least Ryans has coached in the NFL unlike McCown lol.
#25 by Kaepernicus // Jan 21, 2022 - 5:00pm
"They have the better quarterback and the stronger passing attack, against a team which struggles against strong quarterbacks and strong passing attacks."
Tell that to the 6th (Dallas) and 7th (LA) ranked passing attacks in the NFL. Pretty sure those sacks they took made it a lot harder to exploit the secondary of SF. Also Cooper Kupp was the best receiver in the NFL and the Rams lost both games.
"They haven't played a terrible game since Week 1"
What is the standard for terrible? Looking at your chart SF hasn't had a single -20% game all year.
"We mentioned Garoppolo's poor numbers against pressure, but Rodgers hasn't been much better, with a QBR of 9.3 and just a 38.1% completion rate. "
Literally has been worse by both measures vs. Jimmy G based on what you stated in the same article using the same stats.
"Pile on enough points early, and the 49ers will have to go away from their running attack. If this game turns into a shootout, the Packers have the quarterback who's better off taking shots. Garoppolo can't go toe-to-toe with Rodgers."
You are saying this about the team that came back from 17 point first half deficits against GB and LA. They lost one on a last second field goal and won the other on a game ending interception. He threw the game winning TD against the Bengals when down by 3 in OT. SF also had one of the best last 2 minutes in the half point differentials in the NFL. I have seen this narrative literally everywhere when talking about the 49ers and seen absolutely nothing other than Jimmy sucks anecdotes as opposed to actual data to back it up.
For all the fans that have watched Jimmy over the years the comeback/end of game scenarios where it is tied are literally his best moments. He does most of his damage to the team when they are leading by 10+ or tied midway through. The 2 games they lost by 2 scores this year were turnover laden slop fests where they lost the TO margin by at least 2 while giving up 150 yards rushing a game. In the Colts game they were even until the 4th quarter and then blew it in the monsoon. This Jimmy can't come back thing has persisted without merit for years now. It's when they are leading when he blows it. He is obviously a lot worse than Aaron Rodgers. The way everybody talks about him insinuates he is Dalton level bad. The guy is in 5th place in DVOA for the year and lead 3 4th quarter comebacks.
#30 by Bryan Knowles // Jan 21, 2022 - 5:59pm
Re: The pressure numbers.
You're right in that those two particular numbers, Rodgers has been better. And it can go beyond that -- Garoppolo averages 2.54 yards per dropback under pressure, compared to Rodgers' 1.68. That being said, Rodgers is better at throwing the ball away when pressured, avoiding sacks and interceptions. Over 30% of Garoppolo's pressure snaps ends up with him on the ground or the ball in the hands of the other team. You could say that that's Garoppolo taking more risks -- he has more negative plays, but when he does stand in there and get the ball off, he can find those receivers for extra YAC and whatnot against undermanned secondaries. I would say the negative value of taking those sacks and throwing the interceptions outweighs the positives when it does work, though I suppose your mileage may vary there. But I would suggest that a QBR difference of 0.4 on a scale of 1-100 isn't enough to say that Garoppolo has actually been better against pressure, when you take the totality of the picture into account.
As for trailing/leading, you're not entirely wrong. Garopplo's DVOA drops from 17.9% overall to -17.6% when the 49ers are leading in the fourth quarter. That's not the worst in the league (heck, Joe Burrow's at -26.3%) It's 28.2% when they're trailing by one score in the fourth quarter.
As one of those fans who have watched Jimmy over the years, however, I would argue that the 49ers' comebacks have more to do with the receivers making great plays and the scheme clicking that it is Garoppolo doing anything particularly special. I think, if anything, it's a criticism of Shanahan that the offense works better when trailing in the fourth quarters -- he gets too conservative when sitting on a lead, letting comebacks happen (see Dallas and Tennessee). But when he has to has it, he gets the wheels humming. And when the offense is functioning, Garoppolo is very good inside of it. He can hit those open receivers, in stride, more often than not -- he has 7.6 YAC in those fourth-quarter trailing situations this year, third among passers with at least 20 attempts in those situations. But I give far more credit to the success of the offense to the receivers and the coaching than I do to the quarterback
As to the "Packers are better in a shootout situation", I didn't think that'd be a particularly controversial point. Rodgers is better in efficiency; he's better in volume; he's better in analytics, he's better in film study. I mostly phrased it that way, however, for the joke about Rodgers being better off taking his shots.
#34 by bravehoptoad // Jan 21, 2022 - 7:35pm
I think there might be something to Garoppolo not being a front runner. He sure looks a lot more nervous when he's up 17 than when he's down 17.
Vaguely related: time and again in interviews, his reaction when he's talking about a play where he got a wide, wide open receiver? Pure anxiety, followed by sheer relief if he makes the easy pass. A different kind of guy would be jubilant. Not our Jimmy G.
#52 by Kaepernicus // Jan 24, 2022 - 9:45am
He's an enigma and I have had a bunch of trouble pin-pointing a QB he reminded me of over the years. It honestly seems like Phil Simms. This SF team reminds me of that infuriating 1990 Giants team that took out the 2 best offenses in the NFL, Bills/ 49ers, and won a title with Hostetler at QB.
#39 by LionInAZ // Jan 21, 2022 - 9:42pm
It will be interesting to see how much depends on the opening coin toss. If SF starts on offense and can gash the Packers, that could set the tone early. If GB starts on O and can complete stiff-fingered passes without Rodgers getting whacked, sets a different tone.
I still think this 49ers team is the one the Packers deserve to face. Nothing pleases me more than seeing Aaron Rodgers getting knocked down repeatedly.
#47 by Q // Jan 22, 2022 - 12:21pm
If the game plays out similar to Week 3, you will be very disappointed. GB pretty much dominated the SF pass rush and Rodgers was rarely touched.
Odds are, SF will be up 7-0 early in the game and leading after the 1st Quarter. GB rarely starts fast this year. GB starting up 17-0 like they did in Week 3 is unlikely since GB was a very slow starting team this year.
#43 by PackerPete // Jan 22, 2022 - 6:44am
For all the returning Packer players, the one name I didn't see mentioned in this article or the comments is Randall Cobb. He may make a significant difference in this game if he can provide Rodgers an outlet on 3 or 4 third downs to extend drives. Cobb can find a hole and hang onto the ball. That takes pressure off Adams. Cobb may prove more important than the other returning Packers.
#44 by oaktoon // Jan 22, 2022 - 7:30am
In all the analysis and advance commentary about this game, there is surprisingly little (rhyme intended) being discussed about Kittle-- when GB has a penchant for allowing big games from TEs, or about the Jones/Dillon Thunder and Lightning combo-- partic. given the cold weather. AJ Dillon could end up becoming a very big part of this game... It isn't simply Deebo and Jimmy G vs Devante and Aaron