By now we all know that the 49ers and Packers indeed squared-off in the first week of the 2012 season. Unless you have amnesia, you also know that in that game the 49ers were able to run the ball very effectively, including 112 yards for Frank Gore, 41 yards for Kendall Hunter, and 186 total yards on the ground.
The key seemed to be runs to the outside, away from A.J. Hawk, B.J. Raji, (now they need a "C.J.") and the teeth of the Green Bay defense. The 49ers pulled their OLs frequently, letting the middle defenders come free and simply beating them out of the tackle-box to the edge. It was an effective strategy, but can it work again?
Frank Gore spoke with the media earlier this week and was asked what the Packers did to bottle-up Adrian Peterson in last week's wild-card playoff match. Gore said that they kept Peterson in the center of the field, taking away the edge. Now, AP being the beast that he is STILL gained 99 yards on the ground, running over people up the gut. But even those 99 yards are considered to be "acceptable" for Peterson, who regularly rushes for WAY more.
What's interesting is that the Packers funneled everything inside, taking away the outside runs that the 49ers ran during the first game. Can San Francisco find a way to gain yards on the ground without a man-child like Peterson toting the rock in the middle? Will they find ways to fool Green Bay into leaving their post on the outside in order to break the edge and get yards?
Certainly one could say that the real problem with Minnesota's offense was Joe Webb and the predictability of things. The Pack knew that Webb couldn't complete a pass to a barn if he was a foot from it, so they sold-out on the run. They won't have that luxury this week with Colin Kaepernick pulling the trigger, so look for the 49ers to make them pay if they sell-out on any one aspect of the game. It will be interesting to see, though, just where the rushing yards come from...inside or out, or both.