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Points of the Game: Packers

Posted Dec 5, 2010



Gary Plummer played 12 NFL seasons, including four years with the San Francisco 49ers. The former linebacker was also a member of the 49ers Super Bowl XXIX championship team, and has been the team’s radio color analyst since 1998. 49ers.com will catch up with Plummer every week this season to find out what he believes will be the keys to the 49ers upcoming game. Enjoy his most recent "Points of the Game" column in which breaks down the keys to the 49ers Week 13 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.


49ers Offense vs. Packers Defense

The offensive line has to perform at a high level this week in Green Bay. The defense they face, coached by Dom Capers, is a solid 3-4 defense. Capers loves to bring pressure. And like any 3-4 scheme, you never know which four players are going to rush the passer. Certainly, it’s even tougher in this case when all four linebackers create a bunch of pre-snap movement. It causes confusion for the offensive line and it works. The Packers have 31 sacks this year and linebacker Clay Matthews leads the NFL with 11.5. They win with effort, and that effort causes opposing teams to turn the ball over.

How do the 49ers counter that? With great energy and effort of their own. And I think communication is going to be huge for the 49ers this week. I don’t know if Tony Wragge will play for David Baas this week, who is recovering from a concussion, but whoever is starting at center has to get the protections properly communicated to the other guys on the line. For the 49ers to win, the offensive line has to take care of business.

49ers Defense vs. Packers Offense

I see this game as being a huge challenge to the 49ers secondary. The Packers are not afraid to throw the ball and they make big plays through the passing game. Their No. 1 wideout Greg Jennings, leads the NFL with catches over 40 yards since 2007. He has 24 catches at least 40 yards and those are either touchdowns or catches that set up Green Bay touchdowns. Donald Driver was their go-to guy forever, but he has a quadriceps injury that has affected his production. But if in the lineup, Driver can be counted on to make plays for the Packers.

Green Bay virtually had no running game in Atlanta last week. They have gone with more four and five receiver sets than they ever have before. It’s the antithesis to the historical Green Bay Packers toss sweep. These guys go four-wide often and it’s smart, they’re playing to their strengths and they have the personnel to do it. Jennings, Driver along with James Jones and Jordy Nelson all have at least 35 catches. That’s production.

I think the 49ers match up better this time than last season. Nate Clements is healthy. Tarell Brown is playing well right now as a nickel corner. And Reggie Smith has played well at strong safety. All of the secondary play seems to be getting better as the season goes on. That bodes well for the 49ers on Sunday.

Key to 49ers Special Teams

Jeff Reed, the 49ers new kicker, has been to the Pro Bowl and has two Super Bowl rings. At this late in the season, he’s a good addition to the 49ers. Players, coaches and fans have all been spoiled by Joe Nedney, who does a great job in a quiet fashion. Reed is a corky kicker, but it’s just a matter of him regaining his confidence. He missed seven field goals this season with Pittsburgh which led to his release, but hopefully he’s past those issues. Hopefully it’s like a bad round of golf and now he’ll be able to forget the misses and go on to do great things with the 49ers.

Player to Watch

I’m excited to watch Brian Westbrook. For him to rush for 136 yards last week, it shows that he can contribute with substantial playing time. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against a different team. The 49ers have matched up well against the Cardinals. But it’ll be different against a Packers team that has four linebackers who play really well in space. The 49ers will have to position block against these guys. I want to see how the blockers open lanes for Westbrook, and more importantly, what he does with those opportunities.

Coaching Point of the Game

I think the NFL is all about making adjustments. It’s not just halftime adjustments. It’s in-game, but there’s also changes made throughout the week. The 49ers have shortened their trip to Green Bay and only stayed for one night in Wisconsin instead of two. I think it’s a great adjustment. Players were able to get an extra day’s worth of work back home and it’s tough to get the same kind of work in on the road. It’s a short trip, so it’s about getting in, getting a victory and getting out.

Parting Shot

The 49ers haven’t won in Green Bay in 20 seasons but it won’t affect this year’s team. These guys were barely in grade school when it happened. There’s not a guy on the 49ers team that doesn’t think they can win because of past outcomes at Lambeau. Even some of the best 49ers teams have not won in Green Bay. But there’s no time like the present to stop the trend.

To hear more from Plummer, tune in to the 49ers pregame radio coverage on 107.7 KSAN/FM "The Bone" starting at 9:00 a.m. with kick-off beginning at 10:00 a.m.
 

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