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Packers Divisional Round Snap Counts: 49ers expose the middle of the Packers’ defense

The linebacker and safety units need some help in the offseason.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

“Darnell Savage and his terrible, horrible, no good very bad day” would be a good title for the Green Bay Packers’ 24-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Saturday’s Divisional Playoff game. That’s not to say that Savage was the only reason for the Packers’ loss — far from it — but he certainly made a handful of big mistakes that contributed to it.

To be clear, the entire middle of the Packers’ defense struggled in the loss. The whole safety group had a rough day, with rookie Anthony Johnson, Jr. either gambling or simply missing the call on the 49ers’ first touchdown (which came with Savage in man coverage on George Kittle). But Savage took the brunt of it, with a missed interception that could have been an early game-changer and a particularly rough tackle attempt on one of the 49ers’ other touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the linebackers were tentative in attacking receivers, showing that they can again get picked on in coverage. De’Vondre Campbell in particular struggled again, looking slow both off the ball and when filling in on the edge for the injured Kingsley Enagbare. Even despite a defensive performance that head coach Matt LaFleur called “fantastic” after the game, there were no shortage of issues that will need to be addressed this offseason, starting with those two units.

Meanwhile, plenty of players on this roster will have played their final snaps as Packers on Saturday. Jon Runyan, Jr. may be one of them, as his contract is up this offseason and the team appears to have Sean Rhyan waiting in the wings to take over the starting right guard job. The same goes for Yosh Nijman, who got some late run as an injury replacement for right tackle Zach Tom.

So keep in mind when reading through the numbers below that this team — portions of it, at least — will look very different next season.

OFFENSE (67 total snaps)

Quarterback

Jordan Love 67

The Packers’ QB played well enough in this game, effectively dueling Brock Purdy to a draw. The two each had almost identical EPA in the game on almost the same number of dropbacks — Love had 6.5 on 40 attempts while Purdy had 6.5 on 41. Of course, Love was penalized for the officials’ terrible spot on his QB sneak attempt on 4th and 1.

All told, Love’s accuracy was inconsistent on Saturday night. He had a couple of remarkable throws — the laser beam to Romeo Doubs on the left sideline, for example — but then threw way behind Tucker Kraft on a drag route for his first interception. And then there’s the cardinal sin of quarterbacking that he committed on his final attempt of the game, the second interception.

Love finished the day 21/34 for 194 yards, two scores, and two interceptions, for a passer rating of 72.4.

Running Backs

Aaron Jones 54, Patrick Taylor 8, Emanuel Wilson 5

Once again, Jones went over the 100-yard mark on the ground, setting a new team record by doing so in his fifth straight game. Almost half of his yardage came on a single 53-yard scamper in the fourth quarter, which should have set the Packers up to extend their lead to at least seven points, if not to 11, but the unit could not punch it into the end zone and Anders Carlson missed his 41-yard field goal.

With no reliable second option, Taylor and Wilson played only sparingly, with Wilson touching the ball on every one of his snaps; he got four carries for 16 yards and added an 11-yard reception.

Wide Receivers

Romeo Doubs 54, Jayden Reed 41, Christian Watson 37, Dontayvion Wicks 27, Bo Melton 17

A week after exploding for 151 yards and a score, Doubs had a bit of a quieter day, but he still tied for the team lead in targets (six) and catches (four), while lapping the rest of the receivers in yardage with 83. Reed caught all four targets for 35 yards, but most of that production came on a single 27-yard reception. Watson caught one of two targets for 11 yards (the other was the final interception), while Wicks was shut out on two targets.

Melton only had two balls thrown his way, but they were on back-to-back plays and they changed the complexion of the game early in the third quarter. With the Packers facing a 3rd-and-15, Melton drew a 41-yard pass interference penalty on Ambry Thomas, then delivered on the next play with a wide-open touchdown reception to give the Packers a 13-7 lead.

Tight Ends

Tucker Kraft 57, Luke Musgrave 19, Ben Sims 10, Josiah Deguara 6

Kraft matched Doubs and Jones with six targets, and he caught three of them for 9 yards and a touchdown. However, Love’s throw to him over the middle was way behind him and Kraft tipped it into Dre Greenlaw’s hands for a pick. Musgrave caught three passes for 14 yards, while Sims added one reception for four.

Offensive Linemen

Rasheed Walker 67, Elgton Jenkins 67, Josh Myers 67, Jon Runyan 47, Zach Tom 41, Yosh Nijman 26, Sean Rhyan 20

Green Bay lost Zach Tom to an apparent concussion on Saturday, and while it was probably helpful that Nijman has been playing and engaged throughout this season, there did appear to be a bit of a dropoff after the switch. Meanwhile, Runyan and Rhyan continued to split snaps at right guard, but Runyan more than doubled up the second-year Rhyan, the first time there has been that wide a discrepancy in some time.

In all, the line held up mostly well against players not named Nick Bosa. Against everyone else, the unit allowed just one QB hit, but Bosa got five of his own.

DEFENSE (64 total snaps)

Defensive Linemen

Kenny Clark 56, Devonte Wyatt 42, T.J. Slaton 29, Karl Brooks 16, Colby Wooden 8

Despite his heavy snap load, Clark played a tremendous game this weekend. He split a sack with Preston Smith, was pressuring Purdy, and made a couple of big tackles in pursuit down the field. Brooks also looked good in his limited snaps, while Slaton picked up four total tackles in his run-stuffing role. Wooden got into the action with a QB hit on Purdy, and he also delivered a big play on special teams by blocking a field goal just before halftime.

Outside Linebackers

Preston Smith 53, Rashan Gary 42, Lukas Van Ness 28, Keshawn Banks 2

With no J.J. Enagbare, the Packers had to go back to giving Smith and Gary a bit more reps. Gary had four assisted tackles and only one QB hit against right tackle Colton McKivitz, who had been struggling much of this season. Gary’s numbers since Thanksgiving are pretty disappointing; he did not record even a half-sack in any of the Packers’ last seven games, with his most recent coming against Kansas City.

Smith split the Packers’ only sack with Clark and added a second QB hit as well.

Inside Linebackers

Quay Walker 58, De’Vondre Campbell 40, Isaiah McDuffie 24, Eric Wilson 1

With Green Bay needing some help on the edge, Campbell ended up getting the call frequently as the fourth edge rusher, meaning that the team used a lot of McDuffie in this game. Campbell continues to look slow, however, and had a clean shot on Purdy that probably goes for a strip-sack two years ago. He finished with a pass breakup and 8 total tackles, one behind Walker’s team-leading nine.

Safeties

Jonathan Owens 64, Darnell Savage 64, Anthony Johnson, Jr. 9

The safety room is probably the group most in need of a facelift in 2024, both based on contract situations and how they played in this game. Savage in particular had a brutal game, first dropping a sure-fire interception early then getting burned by George Kittle for a score (with a huge assist from Johnson’s poor read taking him out of the deep middle) and finally whiffing on a tackle in the hole on Christian McCaffrey’s long touchdown run. If that’s his last game in a Packers uniform, it’s certainly one to forget.

Cornerbacks

Jaire Alexander 63, Carrington Valentine 62, Keisean Nixon 40, Corey Ballentine 3

The Packers’ cornerbacks actually held up mostly well in coverage, by contrast. Alexander and Nixon each made five tackles and Valentine had four, but they limited the damage from the likes of McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel. If anyone hurt the team the most, it was Jauan Jennings, who got more targets with Samuel out in the second half and caught 5 for 61 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS

Eric Wilson 19, Ballentine 15, Robert Rochell 14, Kristian Welch 14, Zayne Anderson 13, Kraft 13, Owens 12, Deguara 11, McDuffie 11