You know you’re a good player when a defense stopping you (or at the very least slow you down) can single handedly change the outcome of a game.
That’s the case for San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle. When the 49ers walloped the Packers 37-8 in Week 12, Kittle went off with six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. That’s 21.5 yards per catch. As we cheeseheads like to say, “uff da.”
Of course Green Bay had other things not going their way in that game (like a lethargic offense) but slowing Kittle down would have made the game a little closer at least.
Now as the Packers prepare to meet San Francisco again in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, the focus for Mike Pettine’s defense will be in containing Kittle. The tight end was rumored to be dealing with an ankle injury that held him out of practice earlier in the week but he has since returned so Green Bay must assume he will be at full strength.
Could we see the pass rushing tandem of Za’Darius and Preston Smith engage Kittle at the line of scrimmage? Could they even drop into coverage? It’s outside of the box thinking but that’s what is required when it comes to an athlete of Kittle’s caliber.
There also could be clues way back in 1995 when Green Bay upset the then-defending Super Bowl champion 49ers in the divisional round. Mike Holmgren and Fritz Shurmur opted to use linebacker Wayne Simmons as a dog for then-49ers tight end Brent Jones who wasn’t anywhere near the athlete Kittle is it it was enough to disrupt the 49ers offense and allowed the Packers to win the day.
It’s going to be a tough challenge for this year’s team but it is very possible. Pettine may have to call the game of his career to get it done but it could happen.
Any given Sunday, y’all.
Here are the rest of today’s cheese curds.
How Packers can try to contain 49ers tight end George Kittle—PackersNews.com
It will take some unorthodox thinking but with so much on the line, Pettine will have no problem emptying the playbook to help get the Packers to Miami.
Swervin’ Ervin proving to be more than just a returner—Packers.com
The Pro Football Writers of America snubbed Packers GM Brian Gutekunst for executive of the year opting instead to give it to 49ers GM John Lynch. Gutekunst’s signing of Tyler Ervin in-season didn’t just save the Packers’ joke of a punt return unit but it made it somewhat dangerous and also gave Matt LaFleur another weapon on offense.
What Packers can glean from Rams’ offensive improvement against Niners—Packers Wire
No the Los Angeles Rams did not make the playoffs, but they went from seven points in their first matchup to 31 in their second (the Rams lost both) against San Francisco. If the Packers can get to 31, they stand a decent chance of winning the game as long as the defense doesn’t have a nightmare day.
Davante Adams: Pack have ‘better’ plan for rematch—NFL.com
Speaking of putting up points, Davante Adams coyly admits the Packers have something in mind for the 49ers Sunday which means LaFleur found something when he went back and looked at Week 12 tape. Buckle up.
For Some Reason, A Pigeon In Reno Is Wearing A Sombrero—Huffington Post
Mystery solved: the pigeon is just a huge Aaron Jones fan. I mean who, human or animal, isn’t?