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Packers Rookie RBs to Debut in SF

Posted Sep 6, 2013

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and inside linebacker Patrick Willis look forward to a matchup with Green Bay's new running backs corps.

In their two matchups against the 49ers last season – in the September opener and the January NFC Divisional playoff game – Green Bay Packers running backs ran the ball 30 times for 149 yards.

Comparatively, San Francisco’s backs rushed 54 times for 315 yards.No wonder the 49ers won both games.

PHOTOS: 49ERS VS. PACKERS THROUGH THE YEARS

These facts have many asking: With a new stable of running backs, will Green Bay change its ways?

They may make more of a concerted effort to run it,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “I really don’t know… but we’ll be prepared for them to attempt to run it some more.”

It’s too easy to jump to that conclusion. Yes, the Packers will trot their multi-million dollar quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, out for Sunday’s regular season opener at Candlestick Park, but the team also spent two draft picks last April on his new backfield mates.

READ: 49ERS EXPECT HEAVY DOSE OF RODGERS

Alabama’s Eddie Lacy (61st overall) and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin (125th) now pair with incumbent James Starks and fullback John Kuhn. (Gone are four of the team's top five rushers from 2012: Alex Green, Cedric Benson, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant.)

Franklin (21 carries), Lacy (18) and Starks (18) each saw considerable time during the preseason. Lacy is atop the depth chart.

“I feel good about our ‘backs,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on a conference call this week, “and the direction we’re going to attempt to go with our offense.”

When Lacy is in the game, bent at the knee behind Rodgers, expect the direction to be straight. Of the four Packers ‘backs, he is the most imposing. His 5-foot-11, 230-pound frame makes him tougher to bring down.

In football-speak, Fangio said, “Big back. Strong back. He’s got some shiftiness. He’s a spinner. He’s got some good cutting ability. He’s got some size, so he’s got some niftiness to him with some size that makes him a good back.”

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Inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who teamed with fellow All-Pro NaVorro Bowman to stifle McCarthy’s offense twice last season, reviewed Lacy on film prior to speaking with the media. Willis said saw many of the same things.

“If you let him get started, he can be a nuisance,” Willis said of Lacy. “It’s definitely up to us to make sure to not let him get started. We just have to tackle as it as against any running back, big or small.”