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Will the Packers be able to pressure Jimmy G and get the 49ers off the field?

Jason from Acme Packing is back to discuss what will happen when the 49ers have the ball

Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Friday, we discussed how the 49ers defense matches up against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Today, Jason from Acme Packing joins us once again to discuss what we can expect to see on the other side of the ball.

The 49ers wide receivers have been inconsistent most of the season. Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle will all be game-time decisions. The former two will suit up but aren’t expected to be 100%. How does Green Bay’s secondary matchup against the Niners receiving group?

Jason: The Packers’ secondary has a few options to match up with Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel. Sanders will likely draw second-year corner Jaire Alexander in coverage, given the latter’s ability to stick with shifty wideouts. That should leave veteran Tramon Williams as the primary matchup for Samuel.

But given the 49ers’ extensive use of pre-snap motion, Green Bay will have to use other defenders to account for Sanders and Samuel at times. Cornerback Kevin King has generally spent his time working on bigger receivers given his length, which could work to San Francisco’s advantage should he end up covering a quicker, more-slippery wideout. Given Samuel’s ability to line up in a number of spots, including the backfield, he could end up drawing a linebacker as well. The Packers have used safeties Adrian Amos and Ibraheim Campbell as hybrid linebackers, but neither has the ideal tools to handle a player like Samuel in coverage.

What is the biggest advantage the Packers have in this game?

Jason: The Packers should have success getting after Jimmy Garoppolo. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has done a solid job of generating pressure this season (29.8 percent of dropbacks, sixth-highest entering Week 12), especially on downs where he can slide Za’Darius Smith inside Preston Smith to overload one side of an offensive line. The 49ers allow pressure on over 25 percent of quarterback dropbacks, and with Mike McGlinchey still shaking off the rust (10.9 pressure rate last week) and Joe Staley unlikely to play, Green Bay could dismantle San Francisco’s already pedestrian passing game.

Score prediction, and why?

I never predict the scores, but I think Green Bay ends up with a win Sunday. San Francisco has so many significant injuries and just played two grueling games in less than two weeks, one of which went into overtime. Meanwhile, the Packers come off their bye and have a pretty clean bill of health. While I believe the 49ers have the better team, the schedule works against them here.

Green Bay’s defense by the numbers

Mr. broken record chiming in, and, believe it or not; football is a game of matchups. If there is a matchup Kyle Shanahan can exploit, it usually means a long day at the office for opposing defenses. What’s Shanahan known for? Running the ball and play-action. The Packers are dead last in rushing success rate defense. 57% of runs have been successful against Green Bay’s defense this season. As much as we talk about Niners run defense, for comparison, they’ve allowed 50% of runs to grade out successfully.

The 49ers have played two teams in the bottom-five this season in rushing success rate. They scored 92 points in those two games.

The Packers are one of the best teams in the NFL at generating pressure. They’ve generated pressure on 34% of dropbacks this season, which is fourth in the NFL. Green Bay is near the bottom at pressuring the quarterback on play-action, which plays right into the hands of the 49ers. San Francisco is averaging 8.8 yards per play on play-action, which is sixth in the NFL. Defensively, the Packers are allowing 8.3 yards per play, which is 21st. Play-action will help protect Justin Skule(and Mike McGlinchey) from these edge rushers, who are talented. Za’Darius Smith has the third-most pressures in the NFL. Preston Smith is 20th. The 49ers have run play-action on 29% of their plays this season, which is the sixth-highest rate in the league. We could see an uptick on that number against the Packers.

Green Bay is 24th on defense in yards per drive. They’re 22nd in drive success rate. Where they get you is turnovers. They are fifth in turnovers per drive. They can take the ball away. The secondary got off to a hot start, but have trended in the wrong direction the last month or so. Building on Kevin’s tweet, the Packers have allowed the ninth-most explosive passing plays.

George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, and Deebo Samuel all practiced Friday for the second day in a row. That’s a good indicator each will play. Kittle makes the run game go, but his impact in the pass can’t be understated, either. Green Bay has been above average all season at shutting down receivers. Tight ends? Not so much.

The Packers are 18th in DVOA against tight ends. They also allow the seventh-most yards a game to tight ends at 60.5 yards a game.

It’s easy to go into “fanboy mode,” but this is a matchup that favors San Francisco, especially if they have their top three threats playing.