Losing twice in a season to the eventual 2012 National Football Conference champion San Francisco 49′ers has seemingly irrevocably harmed the Green Bay Packers to the point of near obsession as the 2013 season opener against the 49′ers is just a handful of days away.
The Packers brass led by general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy are going all-out in attempt to remedy the sorrowful Green Bay defensive performance in last year’s divisional playoff loss to the 49′ers 45-31.
Not only has the coaching staff traveled all the way to the Texas A&M college campus in the off-season to learn how to defend the 49′ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s patented read-option offense that torched the Packers in the playoff loss, but they also have recently brought in two separate quarterbacks formerly from the San Francisco roster to help prepare the Green Bay defense.
The trip to Texas was born out of frustration in defending the read-option that baffled the Packers defense to the tune of 181 yards rushing from the quarterback Kaepernick as the young signal-caller with amazing speed blew by the Green Bay defense as if the Packers were standing still. The read-option apparently has its roots in the A&M coaching staff and the Packers felt the best way to defend it was to learn the offense in its entirety.
More recently the team has brought in quarterbacks Scott Tolzein and Seneca Wallace to both improve the Packers backup QB situation and to educate the Green Bay coaching staff about the 49′ers version of the read-offense.
Tolzein, a former Wisconsin Badger, has spent the last two seasons with the 49′ers and undoubtedly has become quite proficient in his understanding of the system. Wallace has only had little more than a week with San Fran this training camp until he was just cut this past few days, but he fits the read-option offense a bit more than Tolzen in ability.
Nonetheless, both will likely have first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of the 49′er version and its adaptability to defenses like the Packers employ. While the Packers management will probably deny its apparent strategy and claim both QB’s are on the roster simply based on their own physical abilities, the peculiarity of just recently signing the pair from SF, combined with its own extensive off-season tutorial, says otherwise.
The 49′ers are the class of the NFC at the moment and the Packers simply have to figure out a way to defeat them if they want to advance to the Super Bowl this 2013 NFL season. It appears as if the Green Bay offense can do some damage on its own against San Francisco, but the team and defensive coordinator Dom Capers have to find some way to stop the read-option and Kaepernick.
It was readily apparent in the 2012 season opener that the 49′ers were extremely focused and motivated to defeat the Packers as they started their NFC championship season by squashing Green Bay in Lambeau. It was revealing to see how fired up their head coach Jim Harbaugh was for a “simple” season-opening game last year. The Packers will have to match that intensity if they want to turn the tables on the 49′ers this opener on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.
The wrinkles that Capers will employ this Sunday may tell if the 2013 Packers squad has any chance of advancing to the Super Bowl as a return match-up will again be likely this season in the playoffs with the 49′ers. A win Sunday could be the deciding tie-breaker if both teams finish the regular season with the same record. A home field edge in January on the “Frozen Tundra” would likely go a long way in slowing down the talented Kaepernick should the teams meet in Green Bay in likely frigid conditions.
One can sense immediacy from the recent actions by the Packers front office. It appears as if Green Bay will be ready to jump start this campaign on Sunday. Hopefully, the 49′ers are just a bit soft from their most recent run to the Super Bowl. Maybe they will look as dumbfounded and un-spirited as the Packers were against the 49′ers in last year’s opener in which the Packers offense and quarterback Aaron Rodgers still seemed to be reeling a bit from their post-season exit that ended their 2011 NFL year.
After watching rookie cornerback Micah Hyde run all over the defensive field this pre-season, it would not surprise that this newest addition, despite his rather ordinary fifth-round selection, will play some type of role in defending Kaepernick. Hyde is a bit slow to be a supreme cover corner, but he has the speed to stay with Kaepernick and has shown an excellent capacity to tackle effectively so far. Anyone that has watched the Green Bay secondary attempt to tackle the past couple seasons is well aware of the need for improvement in this area.
Packer Nation will soon see if the off-season education lesson was learned or if the 49′ers stay one step ahead of Green Bay with modifications of their own. The Sunday afternoon contest should definitely be a NFL showcase event in either case.