I won't even pretend to suggest the San Francisco 49ers can stop Aaron Rodgers entirely. But can they even attempt to contain him? Rodgers is playing some great football this season, maintaining a high level of play in spite of losing Jordy Nelson for the season. He got James Jones back in the fold, and the two of them have connected in a big way. This past Monday, Randall Cobb was the big connection.
Eric Mangini met with the media on Thursday, and he did not have a whole lot to add to how the 49ers would defend Rodgers. They are dealing with a quarterback with strong accuracy, a great hard count, some decent mobility when needed, and generally just an all-around great game.
The best way I can see of defending Rodgers is getting consistent pressure. The 49ers have struggled with that, but the Packers offensive line has some potential issues. It's not a bad offensive line, but it's the closest I can see to a viable weakness when facing Rodgers.
The 49ers local media chatted with Rodgers on Wednesday. I finally got around to transcribing it. Rodgers frequently sounds really bored during media stuff. I can't really blame him, but if you want, check out the audio. Here's the full transcript.
On playing his best football:
I think we're playing well on offense. We're moving the ball efficiently, not turning the football over a lot, which helps. We're three games in, so I think a lot of the chemistry on the football team is being brought together. And the identity of the football team is still being established. So, it's early in the season but we're happy with the way it started.
On having James Jones back:
Yea, it's been amazing having him back. I mean, he's a great teammate, he has a lot of talent. We were really surprised he was out there after last cuts. I feel like we had a need there, and I'm glad we brought him in. He's been, we picked up right where we left off. He's been an excellent teammate. He's great in his preparation, and he makes a lot of plays on the field.
On Jones receiving skills:
He's a big body with, he's got good speed, very good body control, he does a good job of his routes getting to the proper spot on time, and he can win one-on-one matchups. And that's what you gotta do in this league. You gotta be able to get off the press and make plays on balls in the air. His first touchdown this season against Chicago was a 50-50 ball that he went up on a good corner and made a nice play for a touchdown. Came back on a slant route and caught a touchdown. And then, last two weeks, it's been some adjustment plays where he's been able to kind of get in the right spot and make a play on the ball. He also had a big catch-and-run late in the game last week as well. So, really proud of him. He's a great friend, but he's a guy you can really count on on the field as well.
On 49ers new-look defense still finding its legs:
Well again, we're three weeks in and I think a lot of people are still figuring out the stuff they want to run, and the stuff that's working. They're whittling down their plans, and continue to add new stuff to the mix that they may have worked on in training camp. Or something that they've talked about, or adjustments. Teams are continuing to try and find their identity. It's tough to win on the road in this league. You've had a couple tough road games, so it's gonna be a tough test for us. Very well-coached team, and we look forward to the challenge.
On not seeing the previous 49ers defensive veterans:
It will be. I enjoyed the challenge of playing against those guys. They're great players. And, I always enjoyed competing against them. It will be different, but they still have guys with that name recognition, and young guys who are trying to make a name for themselves. So that's what happens in this league. There's a lot of turnover, there's a lot of changes over the years. It's a young man's game, you gotta fight against Father Time to hold on.
On short week impacting preparation:
I mean, it affects the week because the preparation is a little thrown off. Monday is usually a get-ahead day in preparation, so we were playing catch up yesterday and this morning. Short week, we're traveling early, so it'll be a little disjointed. But the older guys gotta lead by example as far as the preparation goes.
On Colin Kaepernick's past success, and thinking last week was aberration:
I mean I haven't seen any film on him, but we know he's a talented guy. He's had some big time games against us. I'm sure our defense is expecting him to play well.
On 49ers front seven:
You got a good mix of some veteran guys, and some young guys, kind of up and coming. They were able to kind of push the pocket well, and they're very stout against the run. It's about protection for us, and making sure we can get a body on those guys, and create a good pocket, and allow me to kind of go through my reads without a lot of pass rush. We've faced some good teams the last couple weeks, with some premier rushers. And these guys have some guys that can get after the passer as well.
On success against the blitz:
Well, it depends. It's about quick reactions, and being able to have a pre-snap idea. To make a proper adjustment if needed, and then to get the ball out of your hand quickly. The blitz is predicated on a free hat to the quarterback, or being able to cover guys up and giving your guys extra time to get in there and keep their rush lanes up. It's about making the proper adjustment and getting the ball out quickly.
On idea he's playing best football of his career:
It's three games in, I wanna be playing well every week. It's about consistency for me, preparation is where it all starts.
On Gruden comparing his footwork to Joe Montana, and studying his footwork:
Not really, no. I appreciate that kind of comparison. I don't know if it's warranted, but I appreciate the comparison. But I haven't studied his footwork. I studied Favre's footwork.
On Goff at Cal:
I see that they're undefeated, but I haven't seen any games. We have a lot of the second and third tier Big Ten games out here, so I know there's some packages you can buy, but I haven't really seen any of the games of him. But I'm happy that they're undefeated, and by his numbers, he's playing really well.
On meaning of playing at Levi's Stadium with Super Bowl being there:
Not really, no.