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49ers-Packers predictions: Can Brock Purdy and the Niners get to 40 in the playoffs?

Some of us believe so

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

It’s playoff time, so we have a meaningful enough game to make predictions. So, without further ado, here’s how our staff believes tonight’s game will play out.

Andrew - 49ers 35, Packers 20

My biggest question for Saturday is how the 49ers’ secondary handles Green Bay’s receiving depth. While there’s no concern from a talent standpoint, San Francisco has yet to face a team as deep as the Packers’ are at receiver. Throw Jordan Love with his recent form, and Matt LaFleur’s offense could be a viable threat to Steve Wilks’ secondary.

But for as tight of a matchup as LaFleur vs. Wilks will be, Kyle Shanahan vs. Joe Barry is the opposite. Green Bay’s run defense allowed the fifth-most rushing yards this season and will have to try to maintain Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers have played five games against three teams in the bottom five of rushing yards allowed - Arizona and Seattle twice and the Giants - with McCaffrey averaging 113 rushing yards in those games. And while Green Bay’s pass defense allowed the ninth-fewest passing yards this season, its seven interceptions were the second-fewest behind Tennessee. Brock Purdy should face little resistance getting the ball out to his weapons on Saturday.

Ryan - 49ers 45, Packers 28

Had some non-Niner-fan friends ask if I was concerned about facing Jordan Love. Had to remind them that in their last two playoff matchups with Green Bay, San Francisco faced MVP Aaron Rodgers and All-Pro Davante Adams. So no, Love has had tremendous success this season but does not keep me up at night.

Do I think the Packers young offense can find some production in this game? I do. My biggest question is how did the extra week of rest impact the defense. Will they look faster and committed to the pursuit? Have they refocused on their tackling fundamentals? Following their three-game skid earlier in the season, the bye week looked like a necessary reset on that side of the ball, and I hope it will show up again that way on Saturday.

There isn’t anything Green Bay has shown this year that provides context on how they could stop the 49ers offense. It should be a big day for McCaffrey and Deebo on the ground. This could be a great confidence boost for the offensive line to start the playoffs.

Pat - 49ers 31, Packers 24

The 1987 49ers, the 1995 49ers, the 2011 Green Bay Packers, and the 2021 Green Bay Packers. All of the above teams were shocked and upset in the postseason despite accolades through the regular season. Those teams are in the back of my mind when I think about this game. The Packers remind me of the 2011 Giants who limp into the playoffs and somehow get things together. I can’t shake the doom and gloom feeling I have on how this can go.

That said, if the 49ers lose this game, it’s a cataclysmic disaster, one that is even worse than the 1987 upset against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s not just a team disaster; the players would catch it as well. Given all the talk about “getting back” and “last year was a fluke,” and the first postseason game back, they are upset by the No. 7 seed. There are so many questions they’d have to handle in the offseason, and probably some scapegoats.

That’s of course a worse case scenario. The 49ers have a healthy run game with Christian McCaffrey and a bevy of receiving weapons. On paper, I don’t see how the Packers keep up. The 49ers’ secondary is much, much better than Dallas’ and with Arik Armstead back, the run lanes that have opened up over the past few weeks should be tightened. Being 100 percent honest, I’ve never been impressed with Steve Wilks’ defenses and think he’s just doing the equivalent of playing Contra on a 30-life code. But the 49ers defense as it’s constructed should be a cheat code and until proven otherwise they should show they aren’t the Cowboys.

I’m picking the 49ers to take a lead and hold on for the majority of the game, with a key stop being the dagger in the 4th quarter. The Packers’ defense just shouldn’t provide an issue at all. Plus, Brock Purdy needs to shut the haters up.

But I definitely don’t feel good about any of it.

Rohan - 49ers 41, Packers 24

Sunday marks the first battle between Jordan Love and Brock Purdy, two of the NFL’s young, emerging quarterbacks.

However, I see this game playing out differently for the 49ers, who possess the NFL’s leading rusher in Christian McCaffrey and will be going up against a bottom-five run defense with the Green Bay Packers.

The biggest issue with the Packers is their defense, as head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely target linebackers Quay Walker and Isaiah McDuffie in coverage. At the same time, the 49ers thrive against man coverage.

While they possess an average pass defense, their personnel isn’t the best match against San Francisco, who has playmakers across the board with McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle.

I do think Green Bay will see some success offensively, as Love is a talented quarterback that can make all the throws, while Aaron Jones is playing his best ball of the season with four straight 100-yard games on the ground.

But, I don’t think it’ll be enough against San Francisco, who have elite talent at all three levels of their defense, and will be better posed to defend the run with Arik Armstead back in the middle of their defense. Green Bay will need to score a lot to win this game, which I don’t foresee.

Count me to take the 49ers and them covering the spread on Saturday night.

Kyle - 49ers 38, Packers 20

I can drown you in stats that favor the 49ers. Brock Purdy shreds the type of defense the Packers play — a five-man front with a single-high safety. He’s also seen that all season since teams load the box in an attempt to take away Christian McCaffrey, so he’s had plenty of practice against what Green Bay will trot out.

The 49ers are expected to play with a lead. We’ve heard all about Jordan Love this week, but it’s a different ball game when you’re playing from behind. Steve Wilks loves to run Cover 4. San Francisco used that coverage at the fourth-highest rate and allowed the fourth-fewest yards per attempt this season running quarters. Love tied for the second most interceptions against Cover 4. He forces the ball and makes mistakes when he doesn’t have a running game.

One quarterback will be in a favorable position, where he’s best at, where it’ll be the inverse for the other.

I think people are forgetting most that the last time these two teams played was in the frozen tundra, and Kyle Shanahan’s offense couldn’t accomplish anything due to the weather and turnovers. The Niners were 0-3 in the red zone, 4-11 on third downs, and only had nine drives all game, averaging 4.1 yards per play. It was the third-worst offensive output using EPA under Shanahan.

Thinking about this game from Shanahan’s perspective, he’s going to want to kick the front door down and keep his foot on the gas offensively. Do you really think he doesn’t see how people talk about Purdy? It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase his quarterback against a defense tailor-made to struggle against a Shanahan scheme.

We should see the best version of the 49ers offense today, and that means plenty of points — especially if they’re aided by a turnover or two. Expect a handful of explosive plays en route to a comfortable win.

Yes, it’s the playoffs, and games are generally decided by three points or less. But the 49ers haven’t had a team like the one they’ll field today this century.