7

September

More explosive 49ers offense will test Packers defense

49ers WR Randy Moss

49ers WR Randy Moss

The San Francisco 49ers are a popular preseason Super Bowl pick headed into the 2012 season.

Led by dominant defensive end Justin Smith, and the All-World linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers plan to be in contention for a Championship so long as their key players stay healthy. And while San Francisco’s fierce front seven will surely be a thorn in the side of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, the 49ers improved offense will provide a difficult test to the Packers heavily scrutinized defense.

In last year’s 13-win season, the 49ers ranked eighth in the league in rushing averaging 127.8 yards per game. However, the passing game was a far different story, as San Francisco ranked 29th in the NFL last season in passing offense, averaging just 183.1 yards per game through the air. Although quarterback Alex Smith did a terrific job taking care of the football, his 17 passing touchdowns ranked just 17th in the NFL.

San Francisco’s deficiencies in the passing game were so glaring that they opted to use only three wide receivers throughout the course of last year’s NFC Championship Game. With Ted Ginn out of the lineup due to injury, the 49ers used a run-oriented approach with at least two tight ends on the field for 81.9 percent of the game.

The stingy 49ers defense was able to hold the Giants to just 20 points on a sloppy playing field in San Francisco, allowing their ground-and-pound approach to put them in position to win the game. But in the end, after a Kyle Williams fumble in overtime, the Giants made one more play than the 49ers and advanced to Super Bowl XLVI.

But after reinforcing their offense with several new weapons, the 49ers plan on lighting up the scoreboard in 2012.

In hopes of taking the lid off of opposing defenses, San Francisco signed future Hall of Famer Randy Moss. The 35-year-old wideout sat out the 2011 season but reportedly ran a sub-4.4 forty-yard dash while working out for New Orleans in March. Moss certainly isn’t the game-breaker he once was, but at 6’4″ he remains a dangerous threat in the red-zone.

Less than a week after adding Moss, the 49ers announced they signed the hero of Super Bowl XLVI–former Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham. Both Moss and Manningham saw time with the starting offense this preseason, and Moss is currently listed as the starter opposite Crabtree on San Francisco’s depth chart.

Regardless of which player plays more snaps, the 49ers’ top three receivers are much improved over last season.

Two players who saw significant time on offense last season, Ginn and Williams, are now buried on the 49ers’ depth chart, while this year’s 30th overall pick A.J. Jenkins rounds out the top six. And after almost reaching the Super Bowl with a mediocre-at-best group of pass catchers, San Francisco’s wide receivers suddenly look like one of the better groups in the NFL.

The Packers will be without Davon House this Sunday, likely their starter at right cornerback if not for a preseason shoulder injury, leaving their secondary scarily thin against a deep receiving corps. Special teams ace Jarrett Bush is slated to get the start against the 49ers, but the defensive backs won’t be the only part of the Packers defense under the microscope.

After drafting Nick Perry with the No. 28 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Packers hope they’ve found a consistent pass rush on the other side of Clay Matthews. If the 49ers choose to expand their offense past their usual run-heavy approach, the Packers’ pass rush and shaky secondary will be thrown into the fire on Sunday.

Despite the 49ers boasting one of the league’s best defenses, the Packers have too much talent to be silenced completely. But will San Francisco’s improved  offense be enough to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field? We’ll find out on Sunday.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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10 Responses to “More explosive 49ers offense will test Packers defense”

  1. BubbaOne says:

    “…and shaky secondary”

    They haven’t played a down yet when it counts. Unknown, yes but shaky…too early to say and hopefully we won’t be using that word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. CSS says:

    Unless Alex Smith shows the ability to consistently challenge vertical routes and complete those deep passes it doesn’t matter how fast his skill players at his disposal can run defensive coordinators will dare him to go deep by putting 8 guys in the box, single coverage.

    He can hit wide open guys at time, but his ball placement on any contested pass with reasonable coverage more than 15 yards down the field is extremely inconsistent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    The Packers used a 2.5 second clock for pocket pressure awareness…..I simply hope our pass rush isn’t using the egg timer again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    • Ron LC says:

      Good observation on the 2.5 second clock. I sincerely hope that doesn’t mean Newhouse still can’t block the speed rushers.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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  4. Big T says:

    why do we still have a shaky secondary? TT and MM can’t be trying this again can they?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Ron LC says:

    To win the game GB must accomplish the following:

    1. Newhouse needs to perform at a higher level than he has shown so far.

    2. Keep AR on his feet (see above)

    3. Dom Capers after one full lousy season on D, excepting turnovers, and an entire off-season must show the defense has improved measurably. Especially, on preventing huge chunks of YAC, Tackling, and get the hell off the field on 3rd downs. Not too much to ask? Looking back the areas of concern are really all related.

    Of course, my superstitions prevent me from making a prediction. Where the hell is my sweatshirt with the cut off sleves?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    This may be the most physical game of the year. Often the Packers are too finesse. If they can match the 49ers aggression early it will bode well. Also, the pack cannot settle for field goas in the redzone. 24 points should win the game for either team.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Lefty says:

    This will be like 2001 against the Ravens
    Spread them out and pick them apart. If it gets into a shootout, I like our squad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0