For what feels like the millionth time in the Aaron Rodgers Era, the San Francisco 49ers appear fated to face off with the Green Bay Packers in a Wild Card round “Battle of the Alex Smith Draft Day Content”.
This time around, it’s taken a herculean effort from the Pack against all odds — including some odds nobody even considered — to vault their way into playoff contention. Alas, Green Bay shook off a 4-8 start and went on a run, and they’re now approaching a win-and-in home game against the Detroit Lions this Sunday.
Could the Lions make it? Sure, with a win and a Seattle loss. Could Geno Smith’s ‘Hawks make it? Sure! With a victory over the Rams and a Lions triumph.
But will the Packers make it? Yes. From two decades of watching these Niners and these Packers be unable to reverse whatever magnetic pull is forcing them in tandem, it’s quite clear the red-hot 49ers will match up with the R-E-L-A-X Pack on Wild Card Weekend.
And despite a quarterback matchup that tips the scales quite clearly in one direction, there’s no reason to doubt Brock Purdy and the system that supports him.
San Francisco 49ers can top Packers in 2-7 NFL Playoffs showdown
With the New York Giants currently locked into the No. 6 seed, the Eagles, 49ers and Vikings will maintain their current seeding order with a trio of victories Sunday, the simplest outcome (and the one we most fervently believe in). To enter a status-quo postseason, Philadelphia has to defeat the (probably?) resting Giants, while the Niners have to take down the QB-less Cardinals as the Vikes top the Justin Fields Show.
For the sake of simplicity, the number of permutations that lead the Pack’s resurgent attack to the Bay Area are too pervasive to ignore.
If this familiar matchup does take place, the 49ers will carry a four-game postseason win streak in the rivalry into the latest clash. Though Brock Purdy’s first playoff game will come with mental hurdles no matter the opponent, he should feel safe and warm against a Packers team that’s 17th in points allowed and 26th in rushing yards allowed. That means, even though Green Bay is fourth-best in the league at limiting passing yards, that Purdy will not be the driving force in any potential victory.
Kyle Shanahan is slick enough to game plan around the Packers’ greatest strength, limiting Jaire Alexander’s effectiveness with stunts, misdirects, and dominance out of the backfield. Purdy will have to be a caretaker not because he’s a liability, but because the one place the Packers stand out is in limiting QB performance. The smartest way to attack them is by letting Purdy lead, but not by example.
Add in the significant mojo advantage, which emanates from these 49ers blasting these Packers at home before also surviving a snow game against them on the road, and this playoff battle might just leave Aaron Rodgers crying in the green room once more.