Green Bay Packers

A Packers Win In San Francisco Begins With Turnovers and Tackling

Photo Credit: Mark De Sisti via USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers were riding high this past Sunday after a dominant 48-32 win over the Dallas Cowboys. But they face the NFC’s top team next week, the San Francisco 49ers. Historically, the Packers have had the Cowboys’ number; Green Bay boasts a gaudy 5-0 record in their last five matchups. Conversely, the Niners have been more of a boogeyman. Matt LaFleur and the Packers have gone 2-3 against them in their previous five matchups, including two heartbreaking losses in the playoffs in the 2019 and 2021 seasons.

There’s reason to be wary of the 49ers. By many statistical measures, they’re the top offense in the NFL and have a top-10 defensive unit. The 49ers feature four offensive players – Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey – who went over 1,000 all-purpose yards this season (the Packers have zero). The Niners also lead the league in interceptions, are top-10 in sacks, and allowed the third-fewest rushing yards in the league. It’s no surprise that many sportsbooks have the 49ers as 9.5-point favorites.

That doesn’t mean you should count the Packers out. The Niners have weaknesses that Green Bay can exploit. Turnover margin will be one of the keys to the game. Teams that win the turnover margin win the game 69.6% of the time, according to the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective.

Here is San Francisco’s record this year based on how they performed in turnover margin:

When you look specifically at San Francisco’s double-digit losses to the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, the 49ers were minus-two in the turnover differential, providing both teams short fields to score points off turnovers. Brock Purdy had four interceptions in the Ravens game.

Baltimore’s attention to detail and aggressiveness are two takeaways from watching that game. The Ravens’ defensive backs are flying around, everyone on their team is looking to tip a ball to create an opportunity for a turnover, and their defensive line is constantly fighting against a tough 49ers offensive line to create pressure. That could be Green Bay’s blueprint to win, and we saw a similar performance for most of the Dallas game. Darnell Savage and Jaire Alexander were aggressive and playing downhill, resulting in interceptions. The Packers may have to rely on that again on Sunday.

From an offensive perspective, the game will likely come down to turnovers. A reporter asked Kyle Shanahan what he thought was the key to Green Bay’s turnaround from a 3-6 record to making the playoffs. “Probably not turning it over,” he said, “When you don’t turn it over, no matter what happens, you’ll have a chance to win in every game, and the fact they’ve only had one pick in 10 games is unbelievable.”

A big part of that is Jordan Love’s improved comfortability in the offense. He must identify coverages and pressure and take advantage of them while not putting the ball in harm’s way. LaFleur raved about Love’s ability to dial up a max protect look on an all-out blitz against Dallas and throw a touchdown to Dontayvion Wicks. Love’s ability to identify and manage pressure while attacking coverages will be crucial against the 49ers in winning the turnover battle and scoring against a stout defense.

Sound tackling is the final key to victory. The 49ers lead the NFL with 6.6 yards after catch. They consistently break tackles, move well in space, and give defenses hell. Green Bay’s defense may opt to lean on Quay Walker (83.1 PFF tacking grade, first on Packers defense) and Isaiah McDuffie (76.5 PFF tackling grade, third on Packers defense) at middle linebacker over De’Vondre Campbell (66.4 PFF tackling grade, sixth on Packers defense.) Keep an eye on the injury report this week because McDuffie suffered a stinger against Dallas and did not participate in practice on Tuesday. Regardless, whoever lines up on Saturday must come ready to take good angles and give a solid hit to limit explosive plays from the 49ers offense.

Ultimately, the Niners are more talented on paper than the Packers, and it’s no surprise they are heavily favored. But if the Packers play like they did in Dallas, they have a formula to beat the 49ers and advance to the NFC Championship game.

Green Bay Packers
The Packers Need to Trade Up To Avoid Missing Out On First-Round Talent
By Garrison Anderson - Apr 18, 2024
Green Bay Packers
Peter Schrager Mocks Intriguing Outlier Amarius Mims To the Packers
By Matt Hendershott - Apr 18, 2024
Green Bay Packers

Pump the Brakes On the Kenny Clark Trade Rumors

Photo Credit: Mark De Sisti via USA TODAY Sports

Brian Gutekunst is no stranger to executing big trades, having completed deals that sent Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Rasul Douglas out of town in the past […]

Continue Reading