Kyle Posey: 49ers win, 33-24
Football is a game of matchups. I previewed this game with ACME Packing’s Justis Mosqueda, and we both agreed the 49ers’ strengths play right into the Packers’ weaknesses. The pre-snap motion on offense, the pass rush, to the running game getting going, there’s so much to like from the home team in this game.
I think we see San Francisco put it all together and look like a team that’s poised to make a big run this season. Speed, explosive plays, and sound defense will be the difference in a high-scoring affair where the 49ers take advantage of a team that doesn’t match up well with them.
Marc Delucchi: 49ers win, 28-20
When healthy, the 49ers have had Green Bay’s number since Shanahan arrived in San Francisco. Despite a series of injuries at running back and cornerback this time around, the Niners should have enough talent to get past the Packers.
This prediction is predicated on Trey Lance seeing a sizable number of snaps against Green Bay’s below-average run defense. However, even without their best backs, maximizing Lance’s running ability should help them control the game’s pace.
The Packers will be starting their third-string left tackle, which could be a recipe for disaster against Nick Bosa. But, with that said, Aaron Rodgers is talented enough to take advantage of any holes in the 49ers’ secondary.
If the Niners pass rush and run game take advantage of Green Bay’s weaknesses, they could run away with a massive Sunday Night Football blowout. However, I’m skeptical that Shanahan will utilize Lance and have some trepidation about what Davante Adams will do against the 49ers corners. San Francisco should pull out the victory, but I don’t think they’ll be dominant enough to keep Rodgers out of striking distance.
Yinon Raviv: 49ers win, 30-22
After the Detroit game, I didn’t know what we were looking at. After the Philly game, I have a better sense, but there are still mysteries. Is our offensive line for real? Can our pass rush play consistently? Is our run defense ready for the bell cows?
Philly’s defensive line is better than Green Bay, so we can feel good about our protection… we can expect Jimmy to have enough time to find Deebo, and we can expect whichever running back that Bobby Turner finds on Craigslist to get his. So our offense will be fine - our playmakers will do their jobs. There’ll be a sporadic brain fart, but they’ll chug along.
On the other side, Green Bay’s offense is way better than Philly or Detroit. Aaron Jones will punish us when Kinlaw is out or if our linebackers slip in their gap discipline. Our pass rush will make life difficult for Rodgers, but he’s Aaron Rodgers. You ease on the gas in the fourth quarter, and next thing you know, Devante Adams is streaking down the sideline. Philly and Detroit both threatened us with their late-game chaos, and we’re vulnerable to dynamic QBs exploding in the clutch. That’s Green Bay’s x-factor, and it might put us in jeopardy.
To predict a win, you’re hoping that this defense hits another gear. I think they have it. I think our defensive weak spots are holding up well, and our strengths are rounding into form. They’ll play soundly with just enough disruptive plays to get our offense back on the field, grinding out first downs while Rodgers glares on the sideline. The crowd at Levi’s will take all the pent-up energy they usually reserve for arguing incessantly on Twitter and channel it to the field, and it’ll give our guys juice. We’ll see if it’s enough, but I have faith.
Rob Guerrera, 49ers win, 27-21
For the 49ers to lose this game, two things are going to have to happen. First, the 49ers are going to have to turn the ball over. Second, Aaron Rodgers is going to have to have one of those special nights where he can do no wrong.
While it might not be reflected in the official statistics, the 49ers have put the ball in harm’s way pretty frequently so far this season. Jimmy Garoppolo has had multiple passes that could have gone for interceptions hit the ground, and San Francisco has fumbled the ball four times in two games (and that doesn’t even count two more against the Eagles that were wiped out due to penalties). No team in the NFL has turned the ball over more than the 49ers in Kyle Shanahan’s tenure (-35 in turnover ratio going into 2021), so one of those games is always a possibility.
When it comes to Rodgers, you simply can never count him out. I know the 49ers pass rush should have success, but 12 is also the kind of player that can compensate for that and still make big plays down the field. The good news for San Francisco is that he’s going to have to do that repeatedly for Green Bay to win this game. Since his crazy offseason, where everything from trades to retirement has come up, I’ve said that Rodgers already has one foot out the door on this season. However, if the 49ers get off to a hot start with a couple of big plays early in this one, I do wonder if he and the rest of his teammates will just pack it in and prepare for Week 4.
And yes, I’m fully aware of how bad that joke is, and I’m doing it anyway.
Rich Madrid, 49ers win 28-17
I’ve spent a fair bit of time watching Packers film the last two weeks since I now cover them for the SB Nation sister blog Acme Packing Company, and I got to say, there isn’t anything the Packers do better than the 49ers currently. Outside of the huge gap in quarterback talent between Aaron Rodgers and James Garoppolo, the Packers are deficient in just about every other area of the field.
The offensive line is missing left tackle David Bakhtiari and his left tackle replacement, Elgton Jenkins. Right tackle Billy Turner will most likely play left tackle, leaving the Packers right side even less certain. That bodes well for Dee Ford and Nick Bosa.
Last season, the Packers’ offense shredded an otherwise stout 49ers defense because Dee Ford and Nick Bosa were not there to rush the passer. Davante Adams caught ten passes for 173 yards and one touchdown in that game with basically everyone covering but the defensive line.
This year, we can expect Jimmie Ward and K’Waun Williams to cover him in the slot. Last year those two gave up one catch for 11 yards combined when they covered him. Josh Norman, Emmanuel Moseley, and Deommodore Lenoir will cover him when he’s lined up out wide, and that’s less than ideal. That’s a big upgrade. Warner and Tartt should be able to lock down Robert Tonyan, something they did last year relatively easily.
On the other side of the ball, the Packers defense is struggling to figure out the Brandon Staley scheme. First-year Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, a 49ers quality control coach in 2000, spent the last several seasons with the Rams as a linebackers coach under Sean McVay and defensive coordinators Wade Phillips and Brandon Staley. The results haven’t been great.
Premier pass rusher Za’Darius Smith is out with a back injury, and the defense has logged 26 pressures but zero sacks in two games per Pro Football Focus. They’re just unable to finish their rushes. As a result, they allowed the Lions to stay in it until the Packers took their first lead of the season in the third quarter of Week 2.
The bottom line is Jimmy needs to eliminate the mistakes and hit the early conversions, something he was unable to do last week, and it kept the game closer than it needed to be. He bounced, hitting several key throws and conversions, and finished strong. Never count out Aaron Rodgers, and for that to happen, Jimmy needs to get off to a fast and efficient start. He’s more than capable of doing that, especially in Sunday night games. The 49ers should handle business in this one, 28-17.
Tyler Austin, 49ers 31, Packers 20
Earlier this week, I worked with Evan “Tex” Western over at the Acme Packing Co. on an article detailing three reasons why the 49ers will lose to the Packers. (You can read it on their blog here.) If I’m being completely honest, finding a third reason as to why the 49ers might not come away from this game victorious really put me to the test.
It’s not that I think it’s impossible for the Packers to win, this is the NFL, after all, and anything can happen any given week when two professional teams match up, especially when one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks ever is involved. However, when you’re trying to reason out why that will happen, things get tough.
Green Bay’s roster has top-flight talent all over, but so much of it is banged up right now. They’ll be down to their third-string left tackle, most likely displacing their right tackle as a Band-Aid, and without Za’Darius Smith on the D-Line. Those should provide big opportunities for what have been the two strongest units on the 49ers so far.
The Pack has only recorded one sack in two games and hurried the quarterback on only 6.3% of their snaps. They’ve also allowed the fifth-most rushing yards in the league at a clip of 4.8 per carry. Meanwhile, the 49ers’ offensive line has allowed a mere seven pressures, the lowest in football, and have absolutely road graded other teams into dust when running the ball. I’d expect those two trends to continue, even with three of the four backs from Week 1 either out or unlikely to suit up.
On the flip side, you’d have to imagine that Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Samson Ebukam, etc., etc., etc. must all be chomping at the bit to face the young and depleted group lining up across from them. Creating pressure up front has been the 49ers' strategy on defense under Shanahan/Lynch, and for a good reason. It helps out the levels behind them, especially a secondary that could be rolling with a rookie and a vet just in off the street. Disruption remains the name of the game.
While you can truly never count out Aaron Rodgers, logically, the pick is clear.
49ers 27 - Packers 20
Football games are won and lost in the trenches, and the advantage the 49ers possess on the offensive, and defensive lines cannot be ignored. Green Bay will come into this game without their two top options at left tackle and effectively weaken two positions by moving right tackle Elgton Jenkins to the left side due to the backup level player who will take Jenkins place on the right.
The Packers' defense will also be without a key piece, as their top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith is currently on injured reserve. The absence of Smith is a huge blow to an already less than impressive defensive front that has yet to record a sack yet this season. On the flip side, this season, the 49ers' offensive line has yet to allow a sack.
You can never count out an Aaron Rodgers-led team, but I expect the 49ers to impose their will early, dominate the time of possession battle behind a resurgent running game that never found its footing in Philadelphia.
Xavier Dixon, 49ers 35 - Packers 20
San Francisco’s running game struggled last week and will feature several new faces against the Packers. Luckily, the Packers' defensive line hasn't played up to par. The Niners' offense has to be sharper than last week to take the pressure off the defense.
Aaron Rodgers has never beaten a 49er team with a winning record. I’m sure he would love to change that. We need aggressive Jimmy Garoppolo to show up for this prime-time affair. Without being reckless, Garoppolo will have to keep the defense honest by consistently throwing it past 15 yards.
Green Bay has three weapons not named Rodgers on offense. The defense should be aware of where Aaron Jones, Robert Tonyan, and Davante Adams are on the field at all times. All of them are capable of making explosive plays and that’s what the defense has to prevent.
The pass-rushers will have to get Rodgers on the ground. My only worry is if the secondary can hold up in man coverage situations with minimal safety help. Rodgers is known to have the ability to put the ball wherever he wants.
Ultimately, the offense should have their way with an unimpressive Packers front-seven. Will we finally see Brandon Aiyuk have an impact on offense?