In conjunction with SBNation's Niners Nation blog, we'll be doing a lot of joint posts this week. The first of these is this one, where we imagine taking a single player from the roster of the Green Bay Packers' next opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, and add them to the Packers' roster with no contract or salary cap implications. Silly? Of course. A fun idea? We think so.
Frankly, with the Packers' offense as it is currently sits (with Rodgers and Cobb back and a two-headed tandem of Lacy and Starks at running back), it seems a fool's errand to even consider an offensive player. Tight end Vernon Davis would be an upgrade, but a luxury. Therefore, defense is obviously the place to focus given the Packers' struggles in that phase of the game.
Here are several players who would make good additions to the Packers.
ILB Patrick Willis
A perennial Pro Bowler and All-Pro, Willis is the complete package at inside linebacker. He's got all the physical tools that you could hope for in a 3-4 inside backer, and he simply does not make mental mistakes (no penalties all season). He's as good as they come against the run, too,
ILB Navorro Bowman
An All-Pro in his own right, Bowman has actually become the flashier player this season, forcing more turnovers and recording more sacks than Willis. Bowman probably is the better pass-rusher of the two, a skill that Dom Capers would likely put to use if he wore Green and Gold.
SS Donte Whitner
Is anybody going to argue that the Packers' safeties don't need help in the personnel department? I didn't think so. Whitner, the 49ers' veteran strong safety, has steadily produced at the safety position and his play against the run could allow Morgan Burnett to play a deep free safety more often.
OLB Aldon Smith
Without Clay Matthews, the outside linebacker position has become a weakness for the Packers rather than a position of relative strength. Nick Perry looks lost in coverage and is clearly not 100%, while Mike Neal can't seem to quite grasp the finer details of the position just yet. Smith is rarely asked to cover receivers, but his play against the run and in pass rush is terrific and would give the Packers a big boost on the edge.
For me, the talent level of the 49ers' inside linebackers is too tantalizing to resist. Either one would be a massive upgrade over A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, or Jamari Lattimore, but if I have to pick one I'm going with the five-time All-Pro in Patrick Willis.
Who's your choice? Let us know in the poll below.