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Morning roundup: Divisional playoff week begins

Jan. 8, 2013
 

One of the keys to Saturday’s NFC divisional playoff game at San Francisco might be the health and effectiveness of 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith.

In his weekly analysis — which can be read here: http://pck.rs/VhogFD — Pete Dougherty writes:

“Justin Smith injured his triceps late in the third quarter of a Dec. 16 game at New England. The 49ers generally were regarded as the NFL’s top defense up to that point and going into the New England game ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed and No. 2 in fewest yards. But in the fourth quarter they gave up four touchdowns to the Patriots.

“Without Justin Smith the next week at Seattle, the 49ers gave up 42 points in a blowout loss, then came back in the regular-season finale and beat probably the NFL’s worst offense, the 5-11 Arizona Cardinals, 27-13.

“If Justin Smith’s absence wasn’t the only reason for the decline in performance, it’s also clear the 49ers aren’t quite the same dominating defense without him. It’s also worth noting that in the little more than 2 1/4 games the 33-year-old defensive lineman missed, Aldon Smith had no sacks.”

In other news:

* In Dougherty’s scouting report on the 49ers — http://pck.rs/TZoCFN — he details how their offense has changed with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback.

* Columnist Mike Vandermause writes — http://pck.rs/13cNI8V — that Aaron Rodgers has already built an impressive playoff resume.

* The daily notebook — http://pck.rs/UEHNog — leads with the Packers’ road playoff success in the Rodgers-Mike McCarthy era.

About this blog

Get Green Bay Packers updates as they happen from our reporting team: (from left) Mike Vandermause, Wes Hodkiewicz and Pete Dougherty.

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