The San Francisco 49ers are a 9.5 point underdog against the Green Bay Packers and most of the free world figures Green Bay at least wins, even if they don’t cover the spread. There are a few holdouts among Week 6 NFL picks, including SB Nation’s own Ryan Van Bibber. His reasoning for picking the 49ers? “The Packers really should beat the 49ers on Monday night, but, hey, I’m not getting burned by them again.”
There’s a website called NFL Pick Watch that tracks picks from NFL analysts, be they experts or slightly better than amateurs. They have 113 people they track, and of the ones who have submitted a pick, 98 percent are picking the Packers. The two people picking the 49ers are RVB and CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
Given the Buffalo Bills beat the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, it is safe to say that a 49ers upset is possible. It is not likely, but the NFL is proving this year that upsets can easily happen even amongst the worst teams in the league.
But what will it take for the 49ers to spring an upset in Lambeau? If the 49ers don’t turn the ball over five times and can get one or two takeaways, it would put them in a much better position. But it will take more than that. Winning the turnover battle will help, but they’ll need more than that. They can’t have six drops, they can’t regularly miss tackles on defense, they certainly can’t be missing extra points!
On offense, the 49ers will have to hold up against Mike Pettine’s exotic blitzing. Mike McGlinchey has improved in pass coverage the past couple weeks, and he’ll need to continue that this week. It’d be great having Matt Breida playing, but if not, they will turn to Alfred Morris to grind some clock. He has gotten more work in the passing game, but dominating time of possession (and not turning the ball over) will be key.
On defense, the 49ers absolutely need to get pressure against a limited Rodgers. He still can get his passes off as quick as anybody, but with knee issues, it is critical the 49ers make him uncomfortable. On the back-end, they need whomever starts opposite Richard Sherman to show up with something resembling a decent performance.
The 49ers don’t need a perfect game to beat Green Bay, but they do need a fundamentally sound game. I agree with Shanahan’s specific criticisms of Grant Cohn’s discipline questions, but I do think fundamentals have been a problem for this team. We have seen improvement, but the problem is inconsistency. The team improved their tackling this past week, only to struggle in a big way with drops. They cannot afford any inconsistency given the injuries that have left them shorthanded.
I know most everybody thinks the 49ers will lose this game, but if they were to spring the upset, how do you see it playing out? I’m not expecting a full-on game recap, but what are some of the big things that lead to the upset?