It seems like the San Francisco 49ers players and Green Bay Packers players are already thinking about each other. We've heard from multiple players (and coaches) on the 49ers staff regarding the Week 1 match-up at Green Bay. This week, a member of the Packers acknowledged back: Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews.
Matthews got into the subject of the San Francisco 49ers when tipping his hat to former comrade and offseason workout partner, Eric Bakhtiari.
Bakhtiari is an NFL journeyman and former player of Jim Harbaugh's at the University of San Diego. He is currently battling for a roster spot in San Francisco and isn't off to a bad start.
Matthews had reason to mention Bakhtiari recently because he's been heating up at Niners camp. In his first preseason game this year against the Vikings, Bakhtiari had a team-high 4 tackles that included two sacks. For Matthews' comments on Eric Bakhtiari and the 49ers, continue after the jump.
Matthews on Bakhtiari:
You’ve got to respect Eric’s drive and work ethic. He’s been told no so many times and yet he just continued to work. It’s clearly evident by the first preseason game where he had two sacks. He’s just got to keep working. He’s going to find his niche with some team and hopefully that’s this year.
He was easy to get along with, very talkative and he’s a good person to compete with in the weight room. You’re always trying to compete against someone and we were always going back and forth as far as pushing each other. That’s exactly what you look for in a workout partner.
With Ahmad Brooks, Cam Johnson, Darius Fleming and Aldon Smith all sidelined, Bakhtiari should get another shot to strengthen his case when the 49ers take on the Houston Texans this Saturday. It's good that Bakhtiari has also had such close interaction with an accomplished professional at his position. If he can remain consistent through the exhibition, he may earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.
On how Bakhtiari can return the favor to Matthews:
Maybe now he can give some tips on the 49ers here who we’ve got coming up in Week 1. Let me know how to get three sacks, that’s what I’m asking him.
On Week 1 vs. 49ers:
Absolutely, it gets your attention. Fortunately, you have a little extra time to get ready and prepare. When you have a real good team coming here you kind of want to set the tone right off the bat.
Both teams know what's coming in Week 1. This is a potential NFC Championship preview, as both the Packers and 49ers are heavy favorites in the conference. While they've been preparing for the season, they've acknowledged the heavyweight bout that's set to take place September 9th.
No doubt both teams intend to start their title runs on the right foot; with a win. Of course only one team can emerge the victor, but it's certainly anyone's game. And whatever the outcome, it's good to know there is a mutual respect between the two.
Read Eric Branch's full piece from Clay Matthews on Eric Bakhtiari and the 49ers here