The San Francisco 49ers are set to take on the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs Saturday, marking the first time that young, emerging quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Jordan Love will face off against each other.
Love, a first-year starter with the Packers, threw for 4,159 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, while completing 64.2 percent of his passes in 2023. Coming to life over the second half of the season, he helped Green Bay win six of their last eight games to make the playoffs.
Drafted with the No. 26 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Love patiently waited his turn behind Packers legend Aaron Rodgers, who was traded in the offseason to the New York Jets for draft capital. Now, he’s gotten the opportunity to start, and is making the most of it.
Love possesses similar mannerisms and playing style to his predecessor, which can be seen at times with his release and footwork, but there are certain factors that differentiate the two quarterbacks, apart from Rodgers’s resume and experience.
In fact, one 49er believes a key difference between Love and Rodgers may actually benefit the Packers more: playing within structure.
With his propensity to make plays, Rodgers often went off-schedule to create opportunities. At the same time, Love has worked within Matt LaFleur’s system efficiently this season, executing at a high level, which has led to the Packers’ success over the second half of the year.
Breaking down the Packers team, defensive end Nick Bosa praised their development while pointing out the key difference between Love and Rodgers, which he believes can be a good thing for Green Bay.
“The whole team has improved throughout the entire season,” Bosa said when speaking to reporters via KNBR. “They’ve gotten a lot of guys healthy. They have a lot of the same guys from the past really good teams. They’ve had a quarterback who does exactly what he’s coached to do. Aaron Rodgers is a Hall of Famer and unbelievable, but he kinda went outside of the realm of coaching & sometimes it’s good when you have a guy who does what he’s coached to do.”
Bosa and the 49ers defense have faced the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs in 2021 and 2019, beating Matt LaFleur’s team both times.
However, it will be their first time facing Love in a non-preseason setting, and they’ll see a similar offense to the one they face daily in practice, as LaFleur and head coach Kyle Shanahan run similar principles, set aside the RPO actions that Green Bay utilizes.
The 49ers are seen as 9.5-point favorites entering Saturday’s contest, but it could be more of a high-scoring contest, given Green Bay’s ability to score and their defensive struggles.
Containing Jordan Love and the young Packers offense will be the biggest key to victory for the 49ers, but it may have to come in a different way than in the past against Green Bay, given the main difference between him and his predecessor.