Clay Matthews hasn’t forgotten the end of his 2012 season.
The Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl outside linebacker still vividly recalls the 45-31 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.
“We had the entire offseason to focus on it,” the fifth-year linebacker told the Bay Area media on Wednesday.
The 49ers racked up 579 total yards in the postseason win. Most of the yards, 323 to be exact, came on the ground by way of San Francisco's innovative zone-read plays.
“We’ve had time to figure out how to defend it,” Matthews went on to say.
Green Bay’s star linebacker and his teammates couldn’t help but dwell even more on the playoff loss once they saw they’d open up the 2013 regular season at Candlestick Park. Heading into Week 1, Matthews maintained it’s a normal business-like approach for the Packers.
“We’re treating it like any other game,” he said. “It’s a great test.”
“It should be a good test against a Super Bowl favorite,” he said.
Not only did the 49ers eliminate the Packers from the playoffs,
Matthews shared that he worked out with Kaepernick for a week in Los Angeles this offseason. Conversations between the two were cordial.
“I’d say ‘What’s up?’ to him and that’s about it,” Matthews said before adding, “If he was going to pay for lunch, I would’ve gone.”
Matthews and the Packers defense won’t have time to make lunch plans with Kaepernick this weekend. They’ll be too busy looking to showcase the improvements they’ve made from using the offseason to San Francisco’s zone-read schemes.
Matthews said the defense has analyzed last season’s postseason loss as well as the film from the 49ers playoff games against the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. Although Matthews wouldn’t specify how much time the Packers have used in practice to work on zone-read plays, he did note that he could soon learn more insight by speaking with newly signed quarterback Scott Tolzien, a two-year veteran of the 49ers system.
“Maybe I should set an hour or so to pick his brain,” Matthews joked.
Green Bay’s defensive leader maintained that felt confident that the Packers would be better prepared to defend Kaepernick and the 49ers this time around.
He also disputed the claims of San Francisco’s quarterback, who said earlier this offseason that the Green Bay defense began arguing at the end of the postseason win.
“Arguing is fine within a defense,” Matthews said. “You need to figure out the problem and correct it… I don’t agree with (Kaepernick). If that’s his observation, that’s fine.”
Matthews was complimentary of the 49ers quarterback for making the plays necessary to win his first postseason start.
“He presented problems for our defense,” Matthews said. “We weren’t able to stop it.”