Packers’ Week 4: at San Francisco

With four retirements and some free-agent defections, the 49ers don't look too much like the team that handled the Packers four times in 2012 and 2013 and had a chance to reach three consecutive Super Bowls.

Kaepernick photo by Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY

The Green Bay Packers’ Week 4 game is against the San Francisco 49ers. Here’s an early look at that game at Levi’s Stadium.

History

Series: The Packers lead 30-27-1 in a series that dates to 1950. Green Bay also leads 4-3 in the postseason. However, the 49ers beat the Packers in the regular season and playoffs in 2012 and 2013. Before that, Green Bay had won eight in a row and 13 of 14.

Last time: On a 5-degree evening at Lambeau Field, the 49ers ended the Packers’ season for a second consecutive year, 23-20, on Jan. 5, 2014. The 49ers outgained the Packers 381-281, with 31 of the biggest yards coming on Colin Kaepernick’s late scramble, which set up the game-winning field goal.

Noteworthy: The 49ers almost got to the Super Bowl in 2011, played in the Super Bowl in 2012 and almost got back in 2013. Their combined regular-season record in those three seasons was 36-11-1. Last year, they lost four in a row down the stretch to stumble to an 8-8 finish. With that, the 49ers parted ways with coach Jim Harbaugh and replaced him with Jim Tomsula, their defensive line coach for the previous eight seasons. Harbaugh isn’t the only familiar face who won’t be part of this matchup. Like the Packers, they are revamping their inside linebacker corps with the retirement of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. Young right tackle Anthony Davis and veteran defensive end Justin Smith also retired, and three longtime stalwarts, running back Frank Gore, receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati, departed in free agency. But Colin Kaepernick is there, and he killed the Packers in his three starts with 1,181 total yards, eight total touchdowns and two interceptions. Can Tomsula get him back on track? In 23 starts in 2012 and 2013, Kaepernick threw 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and was sacked 55 times. Last season, he threw 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and was sacked 52 times.

2014 Record

Offensive rankings: 25th in points (19.1 per game). 20th in yards (327.4 per game). 30th in passing (191.4 per game). 4th in rushing (136.0 per game).

Defensive rankings: 10th in points (21.3 per game). 5th in yards (321.4 per game). 5th in passing (220.7 per game). 7th in rushing (100.8 per game).

2015 Comings and Goings

Hello: RB Reggie Bush, DE Darnell Dockett, WR Torrey Smith, G Erik Pears.

Goodbye: WR Michael Crabtree, RB Frank Gore, G Mike Iupati, RT Anthony Davis (retired), LB Chris Borland (retired), DE Justin Smith (retired), LB Patrick Willis (retired), CB Chris Culliver, CB Perrish Cox, LB Dan Skuta.

Draft: The 49ers lost 10 key players. They tried to replace one of them, Smith, with first-rounder Arik Armstead, a defensive end from Oregon. Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt (second round) and Virginia outside linebacker Eli Harold (third round) will add some additional firepower on defense, though they won’t help the depleted inside linebacker and cornerback groups. Three fourth-round picks were used on offense: Oklahoma quarterback-turned-tight end Blake Bell, South Carolina running back Mike Davis and Georgia Tech pitcher-turned-receiver DeAndre Smelter.

2015 Personnel in Focus

Pro Football Focus, that is. PFF has a color-coded rankings system for each team’s 24 “starters,” with the extra player to account for a key substitution package such as a third cornerback or third wide receiver. Green Bay has four blue/elite starters (Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson and Sitton), six green/high-quality starters (Lang, Lacy, Hayward, Peppers, Daniels and Matthews), four green/good starters (Linsley, Bulaga, Shields and Burnett), six yellow/average starters (Bakhtiari, Quarless, Kuhn, Hyde, Perry and Clinton-Dix) and four orange/below-average starters (Adams, Guion, Raji and Barrington). The Packers don’t have any starters rated poor and they don’t have any rookies projected to be starters.

The 49ers have ...

Blue/elite (2): LT Joe Staley, ILB NaVorro Bowman.

Dark green/high quality (1): OLB Aldon Smith.

Green/good (10): WR Torrey Smith, WR Anquan Boldin, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Alex Boone, FB Bruce Miller, CB Tramaine Brock, OLB Aaron Lynch, NT Ian Williams, DE Glenn Dorsey, S Antoine Bethea.

Yellow/average (4): QB Colin Kaepernick, TE Vernon Davis, RB Carlos Hyde, S Eric Reid.

Orange/below average (3): RT Erik Pears, DE Darnell Dockett, ILB Michael Wilhoite.

Red/Poor (1): CB Shareece Wright.

Silver/Not enough information (3): WR Quinton Patton, G Brandon Thomas, CB Jimmie Ward.

Purple/Rookie (0): None.

Quoteworthy

49ers coach Jim Tomsula on the addition of veteran RB Reggie Bush: “He has a lot of energy in his legs and in his body and his attitude. What a wonderful addition in all aspects.”

LB NaVorro Bowman on his return from a torn ACL and MCL: “I go out there some days and I feel great, and some days I have to fight through it. It messes with me sometimes, but just to get out there and do something is always good for the knee. I know I want to get back out there and play football."

New offensive coordinator Geep Chryst said: “I think we’re trying to put together good plays back to back. And once you string plays together, first downs will follow, and eventually you’ll get into scoring territory. … All athletes want to get into rhythm. Kaep’s a great rhythm athlete. So, one of the ways we can help him get into rhythm — and there’s no doubt that one of the easiest way to do it is to get in and out of the huddle with some tempo, and allow him to see what the defense is trying to do to take him away. And he’s bright enough and experienced enough and veteran enough right now, I think he’s embracing that.”


Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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