Green Bay Packers at 49ers: 5 Burning Questions

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 11: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on November 11, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The answers to these five burning questions will determine the outcome of the Green Bay Packers’ game on Sunday against San Francisco.

With only a 16 game schedule, every game in the NFL is important but Sunday Night’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers will have major playoff implications. The 8-2 Packers are the current two seed in the NFC, while the 9-1 49ers are the one seed and the winner will control their own destiny in the hunt for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Every week I put together my list of burning questions, in which the answers will likely determine the outcome of the game. So let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the big questions surrounding this Packers – 49ers matchup.

Can Green Bay slow the run?

It’s no secret that the Green Bay Packers’ run defense has been one of the weaker parts of the team this season. Through 10 games they are giving up nearly 127 rushing yards per game which doesn’t bode well considering the 49ers are have the second best rushing offense in football this season. However, over their last three games the 49ers have struggled averaging just 74 rushing yards per game.

Although Christian McCaffrey still rushed for over 100 yards against Green Bay, he wasn’t a huge factor in determining the outcome and a big reason for that was because the Packers were winning for a majority of the game and their offense was in control. If Green Bay is going to slow the 49ers’ rushing attack, they will need some help from the offense just as they did against Carolina and it will make San Francisco one-dimensional.

Can they get after Jimmy Garoppolo?

A few weeks ago we saw Jadeveon Clowney of the Seattle Seahawks wreak havoc on the 49ers offensive line, as he would finish the game with a sack, a forced fumble and 11 total pressures. With Joe Staley out for Sunday’s game, it will be Mike McGlinchey and Justin Skule at the tackle positions for the 49ers and the duo has had their issues in recent weeks.

Over the last two games, McGlinchey and Skule have allowed a combined two sacks with 21 total pressures. The Packers have an edge rusher in Za’Darius Smith who has put up similar numbers this season to Clowney but what they have that Seattle doesn’t, is a second productive edge rusher in Preston Smith. This could be a big day for The Smiths and we’ve seen this season that Jimmy Garoppolo will make mistakes when under duress.

Will the Packers perform better on the West Coast this time?

Of course we all remember the ugly, lack-luster performance that the Green Bay Packers put together a few weeks ago against the Los Angeles Chargers. They looked like a team that was unprepared and just didn’t want to be there which reflected in their play. In fact post game, Aaron Rodgers alluded to some players enjoying their time in Los Angeles a little too much.

To avoid that disaster for a second time, instead of flying in on a Friday, the Packers are flying in on Saturday this time around. That coupled with Green Bay coming off of a bye and this being a huge game, I don’t expect to see a similar performance. However, we won’t know for sure until Sunday.

Is the 49er defense for real?

Through the first half of the season the 49er defense was quite dominant and they currently rank second in total defense, allowing just 253 yards per game and second in points per game allowed with 15.5. But is that due to a weaker schedule or are they just that good?

In San Francisco’s first seven games, every offense they faced is ranked in the bottom third of the league in terms of offensive DVOA. However, the last three weeks they have played Arizona, Seattle, and Arizona once again who rank 4th and 9th respectively by that same metric. And during those games, the 49ers allowed an average of 320 yards per game with 26 points per game. For reference, the Packers are currently sixth in offensive DVOA.

Will they have an answer for George Kittle?

George Kittle missed the last two games with an injury but prior to that, he had been his same dominant self, totaling 541 receiving yards in only eight games with two touchdowns and he had caught nearly 81 percent of his passes.

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Tight ends this season – particularly over the middle of the field – have had some big games against this Green Bay Packers’ defense. We’ve seen Greg Olsen, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller, and Travis Kelce all have big days, and Kittle may be the best of the bunch. Hopefully with the return of Ibraheim Campbell in the middle of the field and down in the box, he will help limit some of Kittle’s production, but it is going to take a total team effort to do so.

All stats via Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, ESPN, Football Outsiders