This is David Bakhtiari versus
The matchup of the Green Bay Packers rookie left tackle and the 49ers third-year sack-master will be a significant determining factor of Sunday’s season opener for both players’ teams.
Bakhtiari, the Packers’ fourth-round draft pick in April, will be responsible for quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ blind side in the wake of starter Bryan Bulaga’s season-ending knee injury.
Smith represents his first assignment in the NFL. Matching up with a man who recorded 19.5 sacks in 2012 is more of a test.
“He’s an athletic tackle, a guy that trust enough to come in there and protect Aaron Rodgers,” said Smith, who started watching film of Bakhtiari on Wednesday. “(We need) to do the same things we did the last couple of times we played (Rodgers): making his throws hard, getting pressure on him and taking away his options.”
The 49ers defense accomplished just that in the in their regular-season September matchup and during the 2012 NFC Divisional playoffs in January, sacking Rodgers four times and forcing two interceptions.
“They’ve had their battles,” McCarthy said. “It’s been great work for David. David’s had every rep at left tackle since Bryan’s injury.”
Matthews said he has noticed Bakhtiari ability to think big-picture, rare for a rookie. The pair worked out together this offseason.
“His athleticism, arm length and mentality has really helped him out thus far,” Matthews said of his younger teammate. “Now he gets to face an All-Pro pass rusher so he’ll have his hands full. Hopefully he can live up to it.
“He has an exceptionally tough task with Aldon and
McCarthy acknowledged that his other starting tackle on Sunday is no steady vet either. Second-year man Don Barclay is being asked to protect the right side of the visiting team’s offensive line.
San Francisco’s six-time Pro Bowl linebacker
“They do have two new tackles, left and right, but Aaron Rodgers always gets the ball out quick,” Willis said. “We know he’s going to be even more at it to get the ball out that much faster.
“Everybody’s got a plan, and sometimes that plan gets deviated. It’s always up to us as a defense to make a team one-dimensional… They have $100-million quarterback, so we know they’re going to want him to throw the ball.”