NFC Divisional Playoff Game Preview: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, Jan. 12, 2013 at 8:00pm EST on Fox.
Colin Kaepernick, of the San Francisco 49ers, and Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers, are two quarterbacks with a lot to prove. Both took the road less traveled to get to the NFL. Rodgers first attended junior college before ending up at Cal, and Kaepernick went to Nevada (Nevada head coach Chris Ault popularized the pistol formation that Kaepernick learned and has effectively run in the NFL). Neither was drafted where they should have been, as Kaepernick had to wait until the second round to hear his name called whereas Rodgers famously waited patiently in the “green room” in 2005 after the the 49ers drafted quarterback Alex Smith with the first pick. Rodgers had to wait while less talented players were selected ahead of him.
Rodgers is looking to get into the discussion with Manning and Brady as the best quarterback of the era. Kaepernick is looking to get in the discussion of the top young signal callers in the game.
Moreover, both players are playing their home town teams. Rodgers, the California native, returns home to face the 49ers while Kaepernick grew up in Wisconsin and cheered for the Packers.
They will set out to prove themselves in a marquee matchup of two evenly matched teams that are each among the NFL’s most iconic franchises. Each quarterback presents the key to the game for their team. Kaepernick must provide enough of a rushing threat so the defense does not keep their focus solely on Frank Gore and must effectively involve Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, who has been absent from San Francisco’s attack since Kaepernick took over.
For the Packers, Rodgers must effectively avoid the 49ers pass rush, which features Aldon Smith, who led the NFL in sacks but has been less effective without the injured Justin Smith, a defensive lineman. Smith is expected to play on Saturday and listed as probable. If Rodgers can put together the type of game he is capable of and work his road magic, the Packers could beat San Francisco on their home field.
This will be a very close game, and, ultimately, I think the winner of this game will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The 49ers’ ground attack is one of the league’s best, but, with Clay Matthews fully healthy, the game will boil down to whether Kaepernick can keep pace with Rodgers. My gut says the answer is no, and we may be looking at a Packers-Seahawks title game. Of course, that may just be the Wisconsin Cheddar cheese talking.
Packers 30, 49ers 24
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