49ers vs. Packers: Breaking down who has the advantage at each position?
By Peter Panacy
49ers Offense vs. Packers Offense
Both the 49ers and Packers have clear-cut advantages on the offensive side of the ball. That’s easy to understand.
Green Bay might have outscored the Niners 450 to 427 during the regular season, but it’s interesting to see San Francisco having outgained the Packers 6,387 yards to 6,215. Both Kyle Shanahan and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur run similar offenses, too, albeit with some notable differences.
A big difference here: Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers versus the 49ers’ own, Jimmy Garoppolo, who might not even be available for the divisional round because of shoulder and thumb injuries.
Even if Garoppolo is OK to go, Rodgers still holds a massive advantage, likely securing his second MVP award in as many seasons and coming off a campaign where he tossed an impressive 37 touchdowns against only four interceptions.
Simply put, one quarterback is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the other is much more of a game manager.
This one is tough.
If we’re looking purely at each team’s running game, it’d probably be easy to suggest the Niners have a clear-cut advantage here. After all, Shanahan’s offense is going to rely heavily on the ground attack with rookie running back Elijah Mitchell and wide receiver Deebo Samuel sprinkled in, too.
Player versus player, though, the likes of Packers tailbacks Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon have combined for 1,602 rush yards and 17 total touchdowns between them.
From a player vantage point, Green Bay has the advantage. From a run-game perspective, it’s in favor of San Francisco.
Packers All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams is a clear-cut stud, and he’s easily the best wideout playing in the game.
Behind him, though, the group at Rodgers’ disposal, namely Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, don’t hold a candle to the 49ers’ emerging trio of Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and the up-and-coming Jauan Jennings, who has been money on third downs in recent weeks.
Samuel, whose 1,770 yards from scrimmage were third most in the league during the regular season, is a mismatch nightmare for Green Bay, and Samuel comes close to offsetting Adams’ presence.
The Niners’ remaining depth wins out here.
He might not have been as big a part of the pass-catching game plan the last few weeks, but the battle at tight end isn’t even close against San Francisco’s Pro Bowler, George Kittle.
It might be slightly more interesting if Packers tight end Robert Tonyan was healthy, but he’s not.
Few 49ers fans have ever heard of Green Bay’s current No. 1 tight end, Josiah Deguara.
Another close one here, yet it’s a battle featuring two banged-up units. The Niners have been without starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey, forcing backup lineman Tom Compton into the fray.
Likewise, Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari has played four games this year after a torn ACL.
All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams is a stud, yet the right side of San Francisco’s O-line is questionable at best. So, looking at Football Outsiders’ metrics, we get an idea who has the edge:
- Packers: Run blocking (third), pass protection (sixth)
- 49ers: Run blocking (11th), pass protection (17th)
The 49ers have been playing better as of late up front, which makes this almost a push.
But Green Bay holds a slight edge here.
The Niners and Packers kick off their divisional-round matchup on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 8:15 p.m. ET from Lambeau Field.