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Time for Revenge Against the 49ers? Packers Say, Nah, This Is a New Team

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Time for Revenge Against the 49ers? Packers Say, Nah, This Is a New Team

As if fans needed another reminder, the Green Bay Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs last year.

The defense gave up 579 total yards, including an NFL single-game record 181 on the ground to quarterback Colin Kapernick.

And the 49ers went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

It's fair to ask whether the Packers' season opener in San Francisco is about revenge, but other than a tongue-in-cheek pop culture reference from Aaron Rodgers, he says it's not.

"It was never about revenge. It was about a reckoning," said Rodgers, quick to remind the media he was quoting the movie Tombstone.

But in all seriousness, the Packers quarterback insisted revenge isn't on the team's mind, because for many of the players on the Packers roster that fateful day this past January, they don't have the personal connection.

"There's a lot of guys here that didn't play in that game," said Rodgers. "But nah, that's what you've got to do. You've got to move forward. It's a new team. Obviously we've got a new roster. It's all about the 2013 Packers. Guys are trying to figure out their role on this team, and we're trying to see how the identity of this team shapes up."

For Rodgers and the passing game, gone from last season are a pair of former Pro Bowlers that combined for 1,168 receptions for 16,674 yards and 114 touchdowns over the course of their careers.

Those targets, of course, are Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Regardless of their thoughts on Rodgers' leadership, they provided a security blanket for Rodgers for years, but they won't be suited up in the green and gold for the first time in a long time.

As far as the running game goes, the Packers will be ushering in a new era with second round draft choice Eddie Lacy expected to be the workhorse in the Green Bay backfield.

Exactly how much emphasis is placed on the ground game after years of reliance on the arm of Rodgers is to be determined, but there's little doubt that the talent level of Lacy provides an element the Packers haven't had in years.

Along the offensive line, the Packers will have a pair of young tackles that differ from the season opener a year ago.

Rookie David Bakhtiari will be manning left tackle while second-year player Don Barclay looks to be in line for a starting position at right tackle.

For head coach Mike McCarthy, part of his job is teaching the inexperienced players on the team the importance of the upcoming game without overwhelming them.

"It's very important to realize this is the start of the season, the things that happen, the tendencies of how things can go the first game," said McCarthy. "That's really where we spend time educating our team, alongside our rookies. This is a very important game because it's the next game. It's a new season. Everything that's gone on in the past has been answered, it's been discussed. But everything we're doing is getting ready to win this game."

On the defensive side of the football, the defense will be looking for answers to stop the 49ers' read-option attack that sliced through the heart of the unit last season.

Clay Matthews was a key player a year ago and will continue to be this season, but he'll be joined by a new cast of characters that will try to contain Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers offense.

Among them are first-round draft choice Datone Jones, who is looking to overcome a preseason ankle injury to become an interior pass rusher and perhaps more.

Also impacted by injury is cornerback Casey Hayward, who was recently ruled out of Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. But in his place will likely be fifth round draft choice Micah Hyde, who figures to play the slot cornerback position.

"Micah Hyde is really probably one of the top producers as far as production throughout training camp, and this will be a great opportunity for him," said McCarthy. "Our secondary is a group we feel we've made a lot of progress with. Micah will do whatever's asked, and I have a lot of confidence in him."

The Packers will be banking that the new additions both on offense and defense will be enough the close the gap in talent between the two teams from a season ago, but it will be no easy task with the 49ers again among the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl.

Whether veteran or rookie, all players on the Packers roster are familiar with the most recent postseason loss simply because they watch video from last season's match-up.

But as far Rodgers is concerned, it isn't worth dwelling on the matter.

"You're reminded when you look at the film, because that's part of the breakdown obviously, but not much," said Rodgers. "It was a disappointing night for us. They were the better team that day, and they moved forward, that's what happened."

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Brian's picture

I would suggest that Driver was a nonentity last year and Jennings missed so many games that not having them now is not much different than last year!

Stroh's picture

I was saying that last season, especially about Driver. Hell, he shouldn't have been on the roster last year at all. Jennings being hurt made moving on w/o him all the easier, cuz the Packers realized they didn't need him to have a top offense.

Jamie's picture

I think Rodgers is full of it. He's dismissed revenge as a motivation before and then you see/hear him using pregame getting guys pumped up.

Mark in the montain's picture

Is revenge wanting Kapernick's head on a pike?

THEMichaelRose's picture

Only if it's tarred for preservation - King's Landing style.

Tony's picture

Every time he plays the 49ers is for revenge. He's just not falling into that media trap by saying it's not revenge. But he knows it is.

Marlow's picture

I imagine that any comments this week by Rodgers or any other player or coach should be taken with a grain of salt. There's no point in giving the 49ers bulletin board material.

Jamie's picture

Exactly...I actually agree with Rodgers downplaying/dismissing it

Stroh's picture

Excellent article by SI about defending the read option/pistol formation. Also Matthews was on Mike and Mike on ESPN talking about it. Link to SI article below. It also has a quote that basically explained why the Packers move Neal to an OLB/DE hybrid role to defend it.

"The league's top pass rushers, many of whom are used to firing off the ball, are being retrained: They will have to play standing up and react to what they're seeing in front of them. That's a difficult transition for a veteran who in the past has been worried only about hunting quarterbacks on passing downs."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1208501/1/ind...

djbonney138's picture

That was an excellent article, thank you.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Really excited for this weekend. I'm hopeful for Sunday, but not optimistic, and that's okay. You're allowed to lose a handful of games each year. So, even in a possible losing effort against a great opponent, these are things that'll make it a positive day for me:

1. Early signs of explosion from Cobb and Finley
2. Bakhtiari giving up no more than 1 sack
3. Lacy doing what no RB for the Packers has done since probably 2005
4. Datone Jones and Johnny Jolly providing a jolt to that front 7
5. Someone not named Clay Matthews getting a sack when the D rushes 4
6. No mishaps by Jeremy Ross or Mason Crosby

TommyG's picture

7. Don't give up 580 yards.

hayward4president's picture

Lacy spinning around some linebacker wearing a 52 jersey haha.

Lucky953's picture

Just play ball. 49ers fans are in for an unpleasant surprise. Kaepernick is going to get his bell rung solid.

jack in jersey city's picture

i would love to see him get smashed a few times as he tries to run with the ball!

Tarynfor12's picture

It seems Harbaugh has turned the CM3 remarks about hitting the QB into a targeting (bounty) assertion.Lets see if the Refs oblige him.

wisconsinexile's picture

That comment from Harbaugh betrays the worry in his mind. He knows that K is not a strong pocket passer, and it will be a rough season if his QB gets rolled up on the backside of a play. I also think it smacked of "running to tell mom."

Cuphound's picture

Well, _I_ want revenge. I have friends who are Niners fans.

A-rodg's Mustache's picture

If the defense can keep the average total yards per game allowed under 290 and the offense can get a single guy to rush for over 1000 yards,even with the schedule they have this is a NFC championship caliber team that will surprise a lot of the pundits. If it is still possible for the Packers to surprise anyone.

Al Katraz's picture

IMHO the 9ers are the best, deepest team in football. Heck they have three running backs who would be starters on any other team. A host of number one and two high draft picks over the years plus quality free agents.
The 9ers built this team with money and trades over the years and they are ripe for a few super bowls.
Were putting a group of undrafteds and late round picks that MacCarthy and comp trained?
That doesn't work.
I have the 9ers by 21 at half time.

packsmack25's picture

Who is their #2 WR? How good will their rookie safety be? Which corner of theirs can shut anyone down?

They're not really deep at any position other than OL. They will be good, but you're being a bit extreme here.

Packers by 10.

Evan's picture

Come on, PackSmack...high draft picks are ALWAYS better than late round picks. That's why David Carr is a future hall of famer and Tom Brady sucks.

hayward4president's picture

They have two of the best linebackers in the league and aldon. Three guys on D and one college style qb that needs his d#ck knocked in the dirt. We have one of the best qbs in the game three excellent wrs a very good secondary a solid group of LBs and a de ready to prove himself. Pack 35 ..9ers 28.

L's picture

The only thing that concerns me is our (Packers) offensive protection unit verses their (49ners) defensive front. That's the major mismatch that'll make life miserable for the Pack.

Lacy or no Lacy, we won't be able to run against them, so we'll have to rely on Rodgers and company to move the ball through the air, then they'll start to tee off on our protection unit.

C's picture

Ran against them fine in last years playoff game until McCarthy inexplicably decided to stop. I don't know what will happen but it's far from impossible. Like every other year, will Mike actually commit to trying?

L's picture

@C

That's partly b/c of injuries they (49ners) sustained to their Defensive front throughout the season which left them a bit thin and not in top form for the playoffs. Per statistical evidence Justin Smith's shoulder issues proved to be a factor toward a less effective defensive front despite the painkilling injections he took and Aldon Smith's torn labrum clearly was another big factor. Not to mention, Patrick Willis was still trying to get back to 100% after dealing with a nasty hamstring pull. These factors are not factors going into this game, so no I don't believe the Packers will be able to run the ball against that healthy and fresh defensive front.

C's picture

And Packers had 2 backup tackles, one of which was an UFA rookie, an injured T.J. Lang and a new starter at center making line adjustments.

L's picture

@C

Touche...

However, the Pack still aren't strong on the O-line. A rookie 4th round Tackle is protecting Rodger's blindside, that undrafted tackle is still the bookend on the other side (granted he should have improved), TJ.Lang isn't a world beater by any means (but at least he's healthy), and EDS - another undrafted player - is still pretty fresh at manning the Center position for the Pack (but again some improvement is expected). My point is that the Packer O-line isn't probably much better than it was when we faced them last year where as they've got a healthy D-line returning (some improvement should be expected) that was considered tops in the league for most of the year last year against the run and pressuring the QB - minus one NT (Isaac Sopoaga) who departed per FA this summer.

Cow42's picture

I'm not a big believer in the importance of the WR position. QB's like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, Brees would be able to make any group look good with enough time.

The 49'ers have the threat of their QB running which will open up their WR's. the group they have is plenty good enough.

The fact that the success of the Packers depends on such unproven players as...

Jennings
McMillan
Perry
D.Jones
Daniels
Neal at his new position
Hyde
Bakhtiari
Barclay
Lacy

...is a bit unsettling.

There's a better chance of a majority of these guys flaming out as opposed to becoming difference making type players.

The 49'er roster is more solid.

Comparing position groups- the Packers get the ege at WR but that advantage is not as drastic as it should be due to the lack of a run game.

The other advantage, I suppose, is at QB... although I predict that because of the lines they have in front of them and the defenses they will be facing, Kaepernick will end up having the better game (total yards and TD's).

Other than those two positions, the 49'ers have the advantage everywhere else on the field... Plus a major advantage in the coaching department.

This game is too big for McCarthy.

37-13 SF.

C's picture

You said, Comparing' position groups and than offered no such comparison of each position group, only one broad assertion. Do go on and compare position groups so I can get a good laugh. Especially where you couldn't began to name 16 of San Francisco 's 22 starters without looking them up. Bluster much?

Sir Cheese's picture

Same old song and dance with nothing to back it up Cow. You're predictions don't really pan out ever. Weren't Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett supposed to be out until after the bye? With every outlandish statement you appear to be more uneducated than I thought.

Packsmack and C : Is Cow42 just another handle for an old troll on here? I've been on here for about a year and have only ever seen Cow...I suspect Jakek is also cow...what are his other handles?

Cow42's picture

What was outlandish? What don't you agree with?

Just wondering.

C's picture

Anybody determine just how many sock-puppets Rocky continues to use trolling people here? Lurking for a long time and I've lost count.

packsmack25's picture

I think there are like 12 of them. Didn't realize this was one and I shouldn't have responded.

jake (State Farm)'s picture

San Fran is too talented a team. Not just against the packers but probably all of football with Seattle in tow. If I had to guess I would say the Pack has a tough year unless Datone and Perry show they are the playmakers we hoped they were. If they are just average, then yes, could be a tough year.

Ron Fourett's picture

Listened to a former NFL coach talking in general about football and he said with the spread option coming to life, defensive coaches need to keep it simple. When you have a complicated scheme defense it slows your players down because they are asked to think to much and thinking is reacting.
This could be the packs problem. All the crazy schemes Capers uses. I thought Perry looked clueless last year. Maybe this is the reason?

Fish . Crane's picture

Hyde;s sack of a stiff in KC in preseason revealed how they are being taught. Square up, contain, stay on your feet.... VICTORY

Tundraboy's picture

Going to be exciting If this is not a hit them in the chin game I do not know what is. I think they are well prepared and are due to make a statement. And will. Lot is different from last year's game, Perry, 3 healthy receivers, a quiet and better Finley ,Quarless, Bak, Barclay a year older, Daniels,Neal, Hyde and and not just Lacy. Driver,Woodson, and Jennings production was already lost last year. All good to me. Go Packers!!!

BobBrews's picture

Hey I am still pissed that about the Packers 49er's NFC championship game when Rice fumbled the ball and the referees missed it! We should have won the game but the Ref's gave it away as they did in Seattle.

Tundraboy's picture

Now that you mention it. Me too

TommyG's picture

it's not revenge, it's personal redemption. we need to prove to ourselves that our team can compete against the best in the NFC.

Cow42's picture

Or that they can't.

Marlow's picture

There is something to be said for this. It's a point that I had not considered until now. Reply to original post, not Cow42, if that's not immediately evident.

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