Shields is playing well. Tramon not so much.
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He looks really dangerous running. He’s had just a few nice passes but his legs are hurting us.
Ok – I made my young QB comments too early. That was a fantastic run.
He did have Crabtree’s jersey.
Wow – great play by Shields. Unreal. Just a terrible decision by Kaepernick. Nice QB switch Harbaugh. OK, too early to say that. But young QBs make bad decisions in big games (with the exception of Russell Wilson). There were 2 Packers right in there. Ridiculous…ridiculously awesome.
- Balt @ Den – I realize the game has already started but it’s 7-7, so this prediction is sort of still valid. I have this as a close one. Lots of people (Vegas included) have the Broncos having an easy time with Balt. Not me. The game a few weeks ago (when Denver crushed Balt in Balt) was eye opening at the time but not necessarily too meaningful. This game means a lot and Balt will be there to play. While Flacco always seems 1-2 mistakes away from melting down (kind of like Cutler/Schaub in a way), I think he plays well today and the Balt D plays Manning and Denver’s offense tough. In the end, I think Balt gets edged, but barely. Den 27, Balt 24.
- GB @ SF – As I wrote before this is a tough game to predict. I won’t be surprised if either team wins. It’s sort of like trying to decide who will commit suicide first – Sarah McLachlan or Ray LaMontagne. The Pack brings serious offensive punch to this one, especially with DuJuan Harris’ recent productivity. I think the 49ers D will do a decent job against our high-powered offense but our offense will do more damage against their good D than their offense will do against our OK D. This is the closest I’ve come in a long time to restoring some credibility and NOT picking the Packers. But I can’t do that. I will say, if they win and Atlanta wins tomorrow, I’m taking Atlanta next week. Packers 23, 49ers 20.
- Hou @ NE – Lots of people see this as a blowout. I don’t. Again, similar to my thoughts for Balt today – this is the playoffs and it doesn’t often happen that a team comes in totally unfocused and gets blown out. It does happen yes, but it won’t happen in this game. Houston has some serious talent and if they can get something going I think they’ll stick with NE for a time – and then fade late. Ultimately again, I don’t think Schaub has the mental make-up to get past mistakes. If he plays mistake-free they have a chance, but I don’t think he will. NE 31, Hou 27.
- Sea @ Atl – Lots of people are sticking with Seattle here as they are clearly the hot team in the league right now. But I think Pete Carroll’s magic positive potion is going to wear off in this game against a super fired up and ready Atlanta team. Atlanta has a great QB, in my opinion one of the league’s best coaches, and some outstanding talent sprinkled about the rest of the team. While I worry about picking against Seattle mostly because of Russell Wilson and his uncanny ability to produce results, I just don’t think the magic can last much longer. Atlanta 27, Seattle 21.
- Ugh, not a game I feel comfortable predicting. I think the Packers are definitely the better overall team and that they should win, but I’m just not very confident asserting that they will.
- As I’ve said before, I would like for the Packers to win and for Kaepernick to have a bad game so that Jim Harbaugh’s ego gets knocked down a few pegs. I do think Kaepernick might have a turnover or two (especially sack fumble when he’s trying to make something happen). But the truth is, the guy is pretty good for a young QB. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure. While he’s handled it pretty well thus far – especially in light of the controversy his promotion has caused – the playoffs are different, especially when playing a highly regarded Packers team.
- The most important factor in the game Saturday is the play of our O-Line. Keeping Rodgers upright and giving him time to make good decisions will be critical. And good run blocking could really help give SF some defensive headaches (because they’d have to account for an aspect of our offense they likely are not very concerned about.)
- A close second to the O-Line is the play of our D-Line. If they can do a decent job stopping the run, getting a pass rush and not getting pushed around too much, I think the Packers stand a really good chance of winning. In this game in particular, I just think winning the defensive line of scrimmage battle will be critical. I’m not sure we have the talent or depth to do this but a big effort from anyone lining up on the line (D-Line, OLBs rushing the QB, Woodson making Kaepernick uneasy…) is critical. Of course Clay Matthews will be significant Saturday. If he can generate enough pressure it could lead to mistakes by Kaepernick and rhythm issues for the 49ers offense. But a quiet key to the game may be the play of Erik Walden and Dezman Moses. Walden was active against the Vikes and if these 2 guys in particular can get some quality pressure on Kaepernick again, I think we can count on a few costly mistakes by the 2nd year player.
- Woodson should factor into the pass rush as well. I’m guessing Capers is super pumped about having the chance to use Woodson in mysterious ways against a young QB. And I’m guessing Kaepernick is at least a little bit concerned about having to guess what the ball-hawking Woodson will be doing on each play. Woodson could be a big factor Saturday.
- The play of AJ Hawk and Brad Jones will be important in the run game in particular. (I just don’t count on them helping much at all in the passing game). Hawk had a great first 2/3 of the season and has since been iffy, and even downright bad in a couple of the closing games. If he can elevate his play and Brad Jones can learn to tackle lower, we could be OK. As I’ve said before, Jones hits powerful running backs too high (like he did a few times to AP and others) and because the RBs usually have momentum, they push him back way farther than they would if he tackled lower. And Frank Gore is a powerful dude – so hit him low Brad.
- Our secondary’s overall play is of course important too, but I have some confidence that the secondary will do a good job on Crabtree and Moss, especially if we get our pass rush going.
- Vernon Davis is a guy I worry about. It would seem to me to be just like Jim Harbaugh to intentionally make a guy like Davis disappear (6 catches in his last 6 games – for the fastest TE ever to play…) only to have him re-emerge in the playoffs. Frankly, it would be a really smart idea considering that the Pack probably hasn’t put too much prep in accounting for Davis. He’s a good player and way too valuable to go unused – especially against a team that has historically struggled mightily against TEs. In fact, the 49ers couldn’t ask for a much better match-up considering how slow our two ILBs are.
- I will be very interested to see what McCarthy does with DuJuan Harris in this one. I am absolutely positive the 49ers defense is being coached to do everything possible to cause a Harris fumble. He’s a young dude and they know a fumble could really disrupt his confidence/rhythm and the rhythm of the offense. It is, after all, quite risky to give a no-name guy who really only started playing in the last month or so, the ball a bunch. Still, I think we need to give the guy a chance to show his stuff. If he gets going (either running it or catching screens) it could really open up the passing game. I also happen to think he’s the one guy on our offense who can match the level of intensity/aggressiveness that the 49ers D will definitely be playing with. He adds an element of power and aggressiveness to an otherwise finesse offense (kind of like Benson did). All this said, if he pukes up the ball once or twice or is generally not getting the job done, I hope Starks is healthy enough to jump in there as he’s the next best back.
- I want to use the no huddle. It gives the offense a huge advantage especially with a QB who is so in command of things as Rodgers is. This would present significant issues for SF.
- Rodgers and McCarthy should be thinking a lot about which particular DBs they want to exploit in this matchup. We have the amazing luxury of having 4 standout WRs plus Finley. As good as the 49ers D is and as well as their 2 starting DBs have played, we should really think hard about forcing their #3 and #4 DBs to have the games of their lives in order to stop us.
- It has to be concerning for both teams that Akers and Crosby are still the kickers. In what is sure to be a close, hard-fought game, every point counts big-time. Throw in a crappy field and…I’ll stop now in hopes of bringing positive energy to Crosby. He has had a small comeback in recent weeks and the truth is that now is the time that matters most. So step up Mason.
- I’m surprised by the number of experts who are picking the Packers. SF is a very good team. This will be a very good game that I can see going either way frankly. In the end, I’ll go 23-20, Packers.
- Great victory. This is exactly what should have happened. The Packers are a way better team than the Vikings and this was a very comfortable victory.
- Our defense was very solid. I saw lots of guys making good plays – Walden (was outstanding), Matthews, Shields, Jennings, Woodson, Neal – most of the guys on the defense were good. Very solid scheme too by Capers to hold AP in check (relatively speaking).
- DuJuan Harris is the real deal (despite a shocking 2.8 yards per carry tonight – can’t believe it was that low). I know we were all excited by Starks when he emerged a few years ago at this time too. And he was critical to our Super Bowl run. But Harris is different. His cuts are tremendous and his center of gravity is special. He could end up being a real asset to this team. His 5 receptions and 53 yards came at big moments in the game. I really like how this guy runs – especially when the O-Line isn’t blocking well (like tonight).
- Ponder must have really been significantly hurt because it’s very risky throwing in a backup for a game like this. While Webb really has some scary mobility, he sure didn’t show much else tonight. And I guess this shouldn’t have been surprising considering the guy hasn’t played hardly at all this year.
- The Vikes made the kind of mistakes bad teams make in big games. Not just their turnovers, but they had some horribly timed penalties that really cost them.
- I liked seeing Woodson out there. Capers managed to work him into the game perfectly today. Woodson was able to just jump back in there and contribute without disrupting the progress the secondary has made since he’s been out.
- I was saying to some friends while watching the game that our offense may be coming together at just the right time. While we should have scored more points today and I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t, if this offense gets on a bit of a roll here I think it could end be virtually unstoppable if we continue on in the playoffs. Next week will obviously be a great gauge for this, but think about it: if Harris can at least keep defenses honest (and wear them down some) and Rodgers has all 5 of his main targets finally healthy and playing together (Jones, Jennings, Jordy, Cobb and Finley) – it will be increasingly difficult for defenses to figure out where to focus.
- This was a solid victory and I think importantly, there were no significant injuries. Nelson was hobbled at one point but I am assuming we’re OK injury-wise.
- I really think this next game will be a good one. The 49ers are good, but I think the Packers are the better overall team. While I’m not an Alex Smith backer necessarily, I think the QB change Harbaugh made several weeks back was curious, especially considering how Smith was playing this year. Making a move like this can really divide a locker room so I was a bit surprised he made it. But I think a good part of the reason for this move was simply because Harbaugh thinks Harbaugh is awesome. In fact, I can very much see the story-line at the end of their season being “is Harbaugh’s ego getting in the way?”. I think it is. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a good coach but I also think he thinks he’s a better coach than he is. He’s arrogant, annoyingly intense – I really just want to beat the guy next week. Will be a tough game.
- Lastly – it’s still at least a little frustrating for me that had we been given that win at Seattle we would have had a bye and a 2nd round game at home.
While Webb hasn’t shown anything but scrambling ability, we’ve done a nice job shutting down AP. I realize that MN kind of abandoned the run after they started falling behind – but the D still had done a nice job ’til that point.
This has been a great game and it puts us in a very good position heading into next week against a tough 49ers team.