Green Bay looks to keep their early-season winning streak alive as they head to the west coast to face a struggling San Francisco team. While the Packers have certainly had their struggles against them, this 49ers team has a much different look this time around. Gone are numerous key contributors from previous meetings, and a new head coach is left with holes to fill on both sides of the ball.
Being the NFL, any team can win on any given Sunday. The Packers will still need to execute their game plan if they want to remain undefeated. Here are some things they will need to accomplish in order to do so.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has feasted on the Packers in years past, both through the air and with his legs. While he has struggled to find success under the new coaching staff, the threat still remains. One thing that has not helped him is the lack of pass protection from his offensive line. Through three games, Kaepernick has been sacked eight times, fifth-most in the league. The best way to limit his effectiveness is getting pressure and not allowing him the time to make plays.
Green Bay's defense showed on Monday night that they do indeed posses a pass rush, sacking Chief's quarterback Alex Smith seven times. They will need more of the same on Sunday afternoon if they want to redeem themselves against a quarterback who has owned them.
Pass Catching Depth
Davante Adams is a longshot to play on Sunday with a nagging ankle injury, giving rookie receiver Ty Montgomery another chance to solidify himself in the offense. Adams bowed out after three plays on Monday and Montgomery found the field for 66 of the team's 76 snaps on offense as a result, finishing with two catches for 14 yards and a score.
Tight end Andrew Quarless was also injured in that game and will miss extended time. Rookie Kennard Backman will suit up in the regular season for the first time in his career in his place. While Quarless was never used as a primary option in the passing game, more could be asked of starter Richard Rodgers, especially as a blocker. He has not been asked to do much in the run game in the past, but the absence of Quarless could give him the opportunity to prove his worth as a blocking tight end.
Defensive Line Play
For the first time as teammates, B.J. Raji and Letroy Guion are expected to line up next to each other on the defensive line. The plan was put into place when Green Bay signed Guion as a free agent in 2014, but a season-ending injury to Raji prevented this from happening. Guion is now back in action after serving a three-game suspension stemming from an offseason arrest.
Guion took over Raji's role on the interior of the line in 2014 and now will slide to the end with Raji occupying his normal spot in the middle. The hope has always been that the pair could form a disruptive duo in the running game. This team could certainly use it as they rank 25th in the league against the run. It is finally time to see if this combination pays off.