The 49ers open their season tomorrow with an extremely tough match up against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers and 49ers were two of the best teams in the NFC last season and both teams look to start off their new season strong with a win. Although the Packers will be a tough test there are a few things the 49ers can do to give themselves the best chance to win.
First, the 49ers must limit the number of turnovers they commit. Last season the Packers defense gave up the most yards in NFL history. Thus, the 49ers will be able to get their yards and move the ball. However, the Packers did force 38 turnovers last season and the team thrives off of these turnovers by getting the ball back into the hands of Rodgers. The 49ers need to avoid committing these turnovers and keep the ball out of Rodgers hands where he can be surgical and pick apart even the best defenses. Come Sunday, the 49ers best defense might be their offense.
Secondly, the 49ers must get pressure on Rodgers. This responsibility will fall heavily upon the shoulders of the team’s front four. If the 49ers are able to get enough pressure with the front four and keep the rest of the defenders back in coverage will help to shut down the multiple offensive threats the Packers have. The New York Giants showed last season in their playoff run how devastating an effective front four can be. If the 49ers could rush four and drop seven into coverage they will greatly increase their chances in limiting the damage from Rodgers.
Finally, the 49ers must convert within the red zone. Last season the 49ers ranked 30th in touchdown percentage in the red zone. Against the Packers the 49ers cannot leave any scoring chances on the field. They must convert every chance they have in order to keep up with the high scoring Packers offense. The additions of Randy Moss and Brandon Jacobs will undoubtedly help convert more chances this season. As well as rookie running back LaMichael James, who was devastating last season for Oregon in the red zone.
Thus, if the 49ers are able to execute in the red zone, pressure Rodgers and avoid turning the ball over, they will be extremely hard to beat. This could be a very early preview of a NFC playoff game this year.