Sitting at 1-4, after losing their last three games, it doesn’t get any easier for the San Francisco 49ers. They travel to quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ house for a Monday Night Football showdown with the Green Bay Packers.
Both teams are coming off of losses and look to build some momentum heading into the middle part of the season. Here’s what the 49ers will need to do in order to have some success in Green Bay and squeak out a victory.
1. QB C.J. Beathard and the 49ers’ offense can’t turn the ball over.
The 49ers’ offense turned the ball over five — let me say that again — FIVE times last week against the Cardinals. They weren’t able to withstand all those errors against Cardinals’ rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.
If San Francisco has any semblance of five turnovers against Rodgers, it’s going to be a long flight home from Wisconsin. Beathard has to be more protective of the ball, not sit in the pocket and hold onto the ball. The 49ers’ signal caller is going to need to get rid of the ball in the face of pressure and live to play the next down.
Kyle Shanahan’s offense isn’t good enough to overcome mistakes and giving Rodgers extra cracks at a leaky 49ers’ defense at home doesn’t seem like the brightest idea. If the 49ers have any more than one turnover, it’s a safe bet that they’re losing the ball game.
2. San Francisco’s defense needs to hold Rodgers and Co. to field goals.
One of the weaknesses for the Packers’ offense early in the season has been their ability to convert touchdowns in the red zone. They’re 19th in the NFL in touchdown percentage, a statistic that is a ratio of touchdowns to red-zone trips.
The Packers struggled in the red zone last week against the Lions, as the Detroit defense forced field goals instead of touchdowns. Robert Saleh’s group will need to follow that recipe on Monday night in order to stay close with the Packers.
If the 49ers are going to win, it’s going to need to be a low-scoring game in the ‘teens. Rodgers is going to move the ball within the 20s, so the 49ers will need to hold him off once he gets to the red zone.
3. Exploit Green Bay’s middling rush defense and win time of possession battle.
With running back Matt Breida listed as questionable, there is a good chance this means that carries will be split by backups Alfred Morris and Raheem Mostert. The two will have to take advantage of Green Bay’s middle-of-the-road run defense.
Through five weeks, the Packers have been giving up 105 yards per game on the ground, tied for 15th in the NFL. On the flip side, the 49ers have been the fourth-best rushing team in the NFL, averaging 136.2 yards per game.
San Francisco should look to keep the ball on the ground, limit the number of drop-backs that Beathard will have to take and keep Rodgers on the Green Bay sideline. The 49ers’ best defense on Monday might be leaving their offense on the field for as long as possible.
It’s going to be tough if Breida can’t play, but Morris has proven to be successful in Shanahan’s running scheme in the past. The 49ers are facing an uphill battle on Monday night, but if they’re able to execute on these three keys, their chances for a win dramatically increase.