“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” or “if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Whichever quote you prefer, it’s a solid bet many teams in the NFC and indeed the NFL at large will be trying to duplicate what the San Francisco 49ers did on offense this season despite them ending up on the losing side of Super Bowl LIV.
The Green Bay Packers are definitely among those teams that could try and steal that formula, especially considering head coach Matt LaFleur worked with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan for years and LaFleur’s offense stems from Shanahan’s.
The Packers saw the 49ers’ super effective running game up close and personal twice as they were beaten into oblivion in both the regular season as well as the NFC Championship.
So how could Green Bay match San Francisco in terms of the running game? As crazy as it sounds with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the roster, more depth at running back may be needed.
Sure, Green Bay has some versatility with the two backs plus the late season revelation that was Tyler Ervin (assuming the Packers bring him back) but the 49ers also utilized fullback Kyle Juzczyk in multiple ways. It was expected/hoped for that Green Bay would do the same with Danny Vitale but that never developed.
The Packers were also fortunate with health at the position as Jones and Williams combined for 96.1% of snaps. That stat is tough to duplicate so additional help may be needed. Dexter Williams, a sixth round pick last spring, was inactive for most of the season and doesn’t seem to be the answer as a backup.
Could the Packers add a running back in free agency? Definitely, but it likely won’t be a marquee name because this is obviously Jones’ show. Another crack at the position in a mid-round selection seems more likely.
Regardless if the Packers want to emulate the 49ers’ ground game success, they need more horses in the stable.
Now for today’s curds.
You can’t bank on continued luck with injuries in the NFL, so unless the Packers were storing Dexter Williams, an additional running back is a much bigger need than many realize.
The Packers were definitely aggressive in free agency last spring, but they also were smart. They banked on guys hitting their physical prime rather than throwing even more money at more proven commodities in hope that production would duplicate. That move paid off swimmingly with the Smith Brothers as well as Adrian Amos.
We already discussed the need at running back, but what the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs taught us is that Green Bay also has a need for speed on offense. LaFleur said he wants a more up tempo attack next season and faster receivers will be necessary.
Aaron Rodgers is now the same age Brett Favre was when the Packers drafted number 12 to be Favre’s successor. The clock is ticking and Rodgers’ struggles this year should raise an eyebrow but there is a case to be made that Green Bay should wait at least a year before going after an heir apparent.
Voodoo dolls are so twentieth century. This seems much more satisfying.