Packers vs. 49ers: Q&A with Lombardi Avenue


I sat down with Josh McPeak of’s Lombardi Avenue to discuss the San Francisco 49ers’ upcoming Week 4 matchup with the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers are coming off back-to-back ugly losses against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively. And San Francisco looks nothing like the forward-moving team seen in Week 1.

On the flip side, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers seem almost unstoppable after kicking off their 2015 season with a 3-0 record and some impressive wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively.

Be sure to check out my responses to Josh’s questions here.

PP: The 49ers and Packers have had some great rivalries over the years and have squared off in some great postseason contests. I can recall the late 90s but also am happy to see these two teams battle in out in recent postseasons. What is your favorite postseason memory between these two franchises, and which memory do you wish you could erase from your mind?

Sadly, I have to go back a long ways for a positive memory. Back in the days of a 12 year old boy your only goal was to get home and play Madden. This was great because you knew every player on every team. The downfall is at 12, you take the game probably a little too serious, although I’ve yet to grow out of that.

The 1997 NFC Championship game has to be my favorite. Favre vs Young and both teams were 13-3 on the season, with the nod of home field going to the 49ers. I remember the defense stepped up huge that game. The Favre, Levens and Freeman trio made up some of my favorite Packers teams.

The NFC Wild Card game the very next year is the game I would clearly like to erase. A game that saw Jerry Rice fumble and the Packers recover, but unfortunately it was before the days of replay. To top that off you lose on practically the last play of the game to a receiver who had dropped everything thrown his way – Terrell Owens C’Mon, Man!

PP: Green Bay has been an upper-echelon team in recent seasons but has suffered some heartbreaking postseason exits the last two years. Do you think 2015-16 is the year in which the Packers get back to the Super Bowl? And who do you think the biggest challenge is in the NFC?

If Aaron Rodgers stays healthy I think this team is a Super Bowl threat every year. You never know in this game though. I never thought the Packers would win Super Bowl XLV, but they got hot at just the right time. If they can secure home field I think it makes them a lock.

The Seahawks are still the biggest challenge in the NFC. Kam Chancellor will only get better and make his unit better as he goes. With Marshawn Lynch and Russel Wilson, the team is built to get it done in harsh weather as well. This is another team that is almost unbeatable at home.

Arizona is definitely closing that gap.

PP: The Packers defense has exceeded my expectations so far in 2015. I thought this unit would be a major weakness, but it’s played well and especially against the pass. What has been the biggest defensive surprise for you from Green Bay this season?

You could go several different ways here. BJ Raji has been impressive along with Jayrone Elliott. If I had to pick one I would go with the play of first round pick Damarious Randall.

To be a rookie, Randall seems to always be in position. I’m not sure I have ever seen a player stay with his man down field on a go route, while constantly looking back for the ball like Randall has done up to this point. I’m sure he will look like a rookie at times this season but I like his body of work so far.

PP: Outsiders see the 49ers’ situation right now as a total mess. The coaching changes, retirements and free-agent departures overshadow a lot of the talent that’s still here. While the last two weeks haven’t necessarily shown it, what do you think the 49ers’ biggest strength is early this season?

The biggest strength for the niners so far has to be the complete running game. Carlos Hyde has had a good start to the season, especially in week one. Kaepernick hasn’t been the best through the air, but he has still looked good on his feet. Just that duo alone should keep them near the top of the NFL in terms of rushing.

A Reggie Bush return could only enhance that.  

PP: Realistically, you’ll probably pick the Packers to win Week 4 in easy fashion. But what do you think will be the biggest X-factor for both sides during this contest?

I do like the Packers to get that monkey off of their back this week and also prove they can win on the road. 

To do that the Packers must rely heavily on Clay Matthews. I am this guy’s worst critic, but it is mostly due to the fact that this defense needs him to be on the field at all times. Matthews has went from one of the best outside linebackers to one of the best inside linebackers. 52 “Shades of Clay” will need to contain both Hyde and Kaepernick on Sunday.

For the Niners, it has to be Colin Kaepernick. To beat the Green Bay Packers you have to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sidelines. Kaepernick will be the key guy to convert third downs and keep the time-of-possession in their favor. If San Francisco can win the TOP and third-down conversion battle, an upset is possible.

Josh is a die-hard Packers fan from Virginia who started writing his own blog covering Green Bay prior to being picked up by and Lombardi Avenue.

Be sure to check out more from our friends over at Lombardi Avenue this season. And stay tuned right here at Niner Noise for continuous news, analysis and insight on the 49ers.

Next: 49ers Can't Stop Aaron Rodgers but Don't Need To

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