GREEN BAY – The Packers couldn’t be more prepared to play against Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.
At 3-0, the Packers are playing at a level any team would love to take into the postseason. At 1-2, Kaepernick and the 49ers are struggling, coming off consecutive blowout losses in Pittsburgh and Arizona.
So, why is there so much anxiety among Packers fans for this game? It’s because Kaepernick and the 49ers have been tough on the Packers since that playoff game in January of 2013, when Kaepernick burst onto the scene as one of the new stars of the NFL.
Kaepernick is 3-0 against the Packers. He’s also scored wins over the Packers in the 2013 opener and in a playoff game at Lambeau Field that ended the Packers’ ’13 season. He beat them three times in 12 months. That’s why there’s so much anxiety for this game.
Much has changed, however, since the last time these two teams met. The 49ers were one of the league’s dominant teams. They were one of the league’s two bullies, and Kaepernick was the read-option equivalent to young pocket-passer Andrew Luck.
What’s happened since then? Well, Jim Harbaugh is gone, and so are Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree and Frank Gore. Kaepernick? He’s near the bottom of the league in passer rating, 71.1, two spots up from the lowest-rated passer in the league, Luck.
The Packers? Aaron Rodgers leads the league with a 135.4 passer rating and the defense is coming off one of its most dominant performances in recent memory.
Remind yourself of those facts when you turn on the TV this Sunday. It’ll help you deal with your anxiety.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the 49ers.
1. Make him be a passer – Kaepernick’s feet are fine.
2. Stop the run – Carlos Hyde has been the 49ers’ most consistent weapon. He’s rushed for 4.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns.
3. Pour it on – The Packers offense is on fire. It makes it difficult for opponents to keep pace.
4. Dream a little – Levi’s Stadium will host the Super Bowl. The first of two for the Packers? It’s good motivation.
5. Add to his tape – 49ers Coach Jim Tomsula says he has a game-long tape of Aaron Rodgers catching defenses offside and then making a big play down the field.
6. Protect the passer – Tomsula is a former defensive line coach and he loves to get pressure on the quarterback.
7. Play to the crowd – There’ll be a lot of cheeseheads in the new ballpark in Santa Clara.
8. Be the physically dominant team – In the past, that’s been the 49ers. This is the Packers’ time to be that team.
9. Get on Pacific Time – The Packers are flying out a day early. Make the adjustment.
10. Focus and finish – A win makes the Packers 4-0 and officially achieves Mike McCarthy’s goal of a fast start.
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