3 storylines: Packers at 49ers

Ryan Wood
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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws.

Each Tuesday, Press-Gazette Media will turn to the week ahead with three storylines for the Green Bay Packers’ next game. This week, the opponent is the San Francisco 49ers. Here’s a glimpse of what to watch for when the Packers travel to San Francisco for a 3:25 p.m. kickoff Sunday.

1. Rodgers in rare form: Aaron Rodgers is playing the best early-season football of his career. His 10 touchdown passes are the most he’s had to start a season with no interceptions.

He set a franchise record Monday night against the Chiefs — with Alex Smith on the other sideline — with his fourth game with five touchdown passes.

Now, Rodgers gets another opponent where motivation will be in deep supply. A decade after the 49ers passed on Rodgers with the top overall pick in the draft, Rodgers will try to make them pay once again.

Believe it: Rodgers keeps getting better

2.Stout against the run: Containing Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles in consecutive weeks is a daunting challenge for any defense. When that defense is ranked 31st in the NFL against the run before that two-week stretch, it’s downright intimidating.

Yet, the Packers played some of their best run defense in recent memory against two elite tailbacks. Lynch and Charles combined to rush for 90 yards on 26 carries the past two weeks, an average of 3.46 yards per rush. But the Packers aren’t out of the gauntlet yet.

This week, they will face Colin Kaepernick, who has been the Packers’ kryptonite. If the Packers can keep Kaepernick in check, especially against his zone-read plays, they’ll have shown they’re a Super Bowl-caliber defense in the season’s opening month.

Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) sacks 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the 2013 season opener.

Insider: Thumbs up to defense setting tone

3.A 4-0 start: As consistently successful as the Packers have been since Brett Favre arrived in 1992, it hasn’t always led to fast starts in a season.

In the past two decades, the Packers have started 4-0 only three times (1998, 2007, 2011). That’s the opportunity they’re looking at Sunday.

What’s impressive is how the Packers have moved past a tumultuous preseason — and a devastating end to last season — while playing good football from the start. Packers coach Mike McCarthy deserves a lot of credit for how he prepared his team in the offseason.

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