The San Francisco 49ers are entering the toughest stretch of the 2019 season which includes the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints. San Francisco’s upcoming slate of matchups have a combined record of 24-6. No team has ever faced three-straight regular season opponents with winning percentages of .800 or better this late in the season.
The two teams holding the top two spots in the NFC will face off in primetime as the 49ers host the Packers on “Sunday Night Football.” Just as important as this win is for the 49ers to remain atop of the NFC West, the same goes for the Packers in a game that could potentially hold divisional ramifications down the line. Here’s a preview of the Week 12 matchup.
Packers Passing Offense:
One of the most recognizable and decorated quarterbacks of the common era, Aaron Rodgers has played an integral role in the Packers 8-2 record. Rodgers has completed 225 passes for 2,718 yards and 17 touchdowns to just two interceptions through 10 games. In his 15th year in the NFL, Rodgers ranks in the top 10 in the league in yards, yards per attempt, passer rating and interception percentage. With the fourth-best pass blocking rate in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers and Co. own the 11th-best passing offense in the league, averaging 253.9 yards per game.
Meanwhile, San Francisco enters Sunday night with a league-best passing defense, allowing an average of 142.5 yards per game. San Francisco’s stacked defensive line is tied for a league-leading 39 sacks this season. The 49ers are the only team in the NFL with four players with five or more sacks.
The success of San Francisco’s defensive line has played in the favor of the 49ers secondary. The 49ers have registered 22 takeaways this season (third best in the league), 11 of which came by the way of interceptions.
“Just a really solid defense,” Rodgers said. “They’re obviously very stout up front. They’ve had a number of sacks, which is obviously helping not only their overall yardage but the back end, as well, because the back end knows the ball’s got to come out at a certain time. There are not any holes on this defense. It’s solid from the front seven to the back end. They’re playing really well together. It’s going to be a really good test for us.”
Packers Rushing Offense:
Green Bay hosts a pair of running backs that could be relied on heavily against San Francisco’s struggling run defense. A one-two punch in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams has put up 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns on 260 total touches this season.
Jones has registered 589 yards on the ground on 135 carries to go along with 354 receiving yards on 35 receptions. The third-year back is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (11) and total touchdowns (14). Meanwhile, their No. 2 back, Williams, leads the Packers with five receiving touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
If there’s a soft spot in the 49ers defense, it would come by the way of the run. San Francisco’s defense ranks 20th in rushing yards allowed per game (110.5) and 25th in yards allowed per carry (4.7). In San Francisco’s last four games, the 49ers have given up 141.3 rushing yards per game and 5.59 yards per carry.
Packers Rushing Defense:
San Francisco is second in the league in rushing, averaging 149 yards per game while the Packers are averaging 126.9 rushing yards allowed per game, ranked 25th in the league. The Packers have given up at least 120 rushing yards in seven of their past 10 matchups. In five of those contests, Green Bay has allowed 149 yards or more on the ground. That’s music to San Francisco’s ears, who has struggled in recent weeks with the run. From Weeks 1-8, the 49ers were averaging 181.1 yards per game. Since Week 9, the 49ers have put up an average of 74 yards per game, including a season-low 34 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.
The 49ers will aim to get some traction on Sunday against a Packers team that is allowing 4.8 yards per carry this season (25th). With Matt Breida doubtful for Sunday, the 49ers second-ranked rushing offense will rely on Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. for the second-straight week. Coleman leads the team with six-total touchdowns. Wilson Jr. is closely behind with five scores on the season.
Packers Passing Defense:
Jimmy Garoppolo is coming off of a career game against the Cardinals in Week 11, completing 34-of-45 passes for a career-high 424 yards and a career high-tying four touchdowns. The quarterback completed passes to 10 different receivers in the divisional game, including Deebo Samuel, who is coming off of a career outing of his own with eight receptions for 134 yards. The rookie has caught 16-of-21 targets for 246 yards over the 49ers last two matchups.
The Packers 23rd-ranked passing defense is giving up an average of 257.8 yards per game this season, a prime opportunity for San Francisco’s pass catchers to capitalize on. The 49ers are hopeful they’ll get their star tight end, George Kittle, back in the lineup after missing two games with a knee and ankle injury. Green Bay has allowed 627 yards and five touchdowns to tight ends this season. Where Kittle excels is yards after the catch, which has been a challenge for Green Bay. The Packers are 25th in the league in yards allowed after the catch (1,286 yards) and 22nd in missed tackles (82), according to Pro Football Focus.
Pending the health of Kittle, Samuel (shoulder) and Emmanuel Sanders (ribs), Garoppolo could have all three of his top pass catchers in a critical NFC showdown.