Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
After Saturday's game against the Minnesota Vikings coach McCarthy said playing Joe Webb helped the defense prepare for the 49ers. Considering the vast differences between the two offenses it may not have helped as much as you think.
One of the oddest comments by anyone in the Packers’ organization this week had to have been a quote coming from coach McCarthy after the Vikings game. In it he said that playing Joe Webb would "definitely help" the Packers with this week’s contest versus the 49ers and their quarterback Colin Kaepernick. There are two knee jerk reactions to this particular quote which both have some real validity. On one hand it’s clear that this will help since the Packers have not faced much of the read option this year and that’s about the only thing that Joe Webb can do right. It might not have been much, but the experience of seeing the read option should help them in preparations this week for an offense that has much more experience with this latest craze of the NFL. On the other hand Joe Webb is a pale approximation of what Kaepernick will bring to the field, and trying to compare the two is a bit like trying to compare Aaron Rodgers to Matt Flynn. Sure both have some similarities and similar tendencies but they are in no way equal.
I have to confess that before this week I figured that the 49ers’ offense was basically an all around upgraded version of the Minnesota Vikings offense. Perhaps this was true earlier in the year when the two teams met and Alex Smith was the quarterback of 49ers, but now the Niners’ offense is a totally different animal. The 49ers are much better at too many different positions to be able to adequately compare the two teams. Perhaps the most glaring difference lies in the receiving corps. To put it mildly the Vikings have a woeful group of receivers, and it got even worse with the injury to Percy Harvin. Meanwhile the Niners have taken some injury hits to their receiving corps, but have also grown a very promising number 1 receiver in Michael Crabtree.
The biggest difference though is the play of Collin Kaepernick. There is no comparison between Kaepernick and anything the Vikings can throw out there at QB. Kaepernick runs better than Christian Ponder and throws better than Joe Webb. Perhaps most troubling for this Packers defense is the fact that Kaepernick throws a better deep ball than Webb. In fact PFF notes that Kaepernick has been the most accurate deep passer in the league this year. Kaepernick’s ability to throw the deep ball and the talent the Niners have at receiver makes this offense worlds different from what the Packers faced on Saturday with the Webb-led Vikings.
While it probably did not hurt to face Joe Webb this previous Saturday, it’s questionable how much help the Packers actually received. The Packers will not be able to stack the box and expect the entire offense to shut down this week as it did last week. They certainly can’t expect Kaepernick to miss his deep passes as frequently or as badly as Webb did either. It’s good the Packers got a look at some read option plays, but the offense they face this week is a totally different animal.