1. Packers defensive line vs. Frank Gore—Whether Dom Capers plays with three down linemen or two, it’ll be the big guys’ responsibility to hold the point of attack and help stop Gore up the middle. It’s the 49ers’ bread-and-butter play and you can’t win if you can’t stop it.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Colin Kaepernick—So much attention has been dedicated to Kaepernick the runner, that Kaepernick the passer has been ignored. What can’t be ignored is that Kaepernick’s 91.2 passer rating nearly equaled Rodgers’ 91.5 in last January’s playoff game, and that’s not the formula for victory for the Packers. The Packers win when Rodgers claims a decided passer-rating victory over the opponent’s quarterback.
3. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry vs. read option—The outside linebackers have to pinch Kaepernick to the middle of the field, where the big guys eat up room and running lanes. In space, the Packers’ outside linebackers have to make the tackle.
4. David Bakhtiari vs. “Smith Brothers”—The rookie left tackle will get help from tight ends and running backs, but Bakhtiari is facing a daunting challenge in his pro debut. The combined effects of Justin Smith’s power and Aldon Smith’s speed will be focused on Bakhtiari to test his readiness.
5. Micah Hyde vs. 49ers slot receiver—Casey Hayward is out, which means the Packers have to choose from playing a rookie as nickel back, or moving Tramon Williams to nickel and playing Davon House at corner. Hyde might’ve earned the try at nickel with his sparkling play in the preseason. If that’s the case, he could find himself spending his pro debut defending against Vernon Davis. Additional coverage - Sept. 6