Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
We'll start with SI.com's Albert Breer writing (in a column mostly about former Denver and Washington coach Mike Shanahan that includes some talk of Matt LaFleur) about the job that Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has done to help propel Green Bay into the NFC championship game.
In a segment subtitled, "The One Thing No One Is Talking About," Breer writes:
The job Mike Pettine’s done in Green Bay.
The Packers were top 10 in scoring defense this year for the first time since the team’s championship season of 2010, and the coaches have done a nice job the last two years of developing young players like Darnell Savage, Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, and melding veteran additions like Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos into the mix.
And consider this: Of the eight guys who got the most playing time against Seattle, only three predate Pettine’s 2018 arrival in Green Bay, and one of those three is King, who was a rookie in ’17 (and missed half that season due to injury).
Even Pettine’s run in Cleveland doesn’t look as bad in retrospect. The year they had Shanahan as coordinator, they started 7-4. And that team’s 7-9 finish (things went off the rails when Johnny Manziel went into the lineup which, uh … might not have been a decision made by the coaches) was actually the franchise’s fourth best mark since coming back into the NFL in 1999.
He then served in the post-Browns purgatory that a lot of ex-Cleveland coaches have, with a couple years off, a time during which did some work as a Seahawks consultant, before Mike McCarthy hired him two years ago in Green Bay.
Could all of this be a precursor to Pettine’s second shot as a head coach again? Maybe not. But he’s certainly shown his chops in the two years he’s been back.
You can read the entire column here:
The 49ers' defensive front presents a difficult challenge for the Packers' offensive line:
Containing 49ers tight end George Kittle must be a Packers priority:
The Packers embrace the underdog role:
Be sure to listen to our Green 19 Podcast for Packers-49ers analysis from Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski:
Predictions are starting to roll in. Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com says the Packers-49ers rematch will be much closer but still likes San Francisco:
San Francisco 49ers 30, Green Bay Packers 26
Aaron Rodgers played at a locked-in, accurate level last week that should concern 49ers Faithful. He showed a willingness to take shots when they were available and use his legs when necessary. He gives the Packers a decisive edge at quarterback if he plays that well again. And it's worth noting the talent gap between these two teams isn't that large.
While the Packers are stepping way up in class a week after facing the Seahawks' defense, so is Nick Bosa against Pro Bowl tackle David Bakhtiari. Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who had a terrific rebound season, will be back for this game. Davante Adams lining up against anyone other than Richard Sherman is a mismatch. I'd take Aaron Jones over any of the 49ers' running backs. Packers defensive tackle Kenny Clark is Pro Football Focus' No. 2 interior lineman since Week 9, trailing only Aaron Donald. Za'Darius Smith is No. 1 among all edge rushers over that span. This isn't some plucky band of upstarts.
The edge for the 49ers in this week (and most weeks), however, doesn't just come from their loaded roster. I trust Kyle Shanahan to make Packers inside linebacker Blake Martinez look lost in coverage and the running game. I expect San Francisco to target cornerbacks Kevin King and Tramon Williams. I expect George Kittle to be the best player on the field and Fred Warner to lead the best-tackling team in the NFL because that's what they've done for the last four months.
The Packers can compete if Rodgers plays near his best and they can win if their pass rush forces Jimmy Garoppolo to play too fast, but the odds still aren't in Green Bay's favor. While the Packers have proven comfortable in close games, the 49ers have overcome more adversity from injuries and brutal losses all season to get here. They are battle tested, talented and smart.
The best Super Bowl matchup on the board remains Chiefs-49ers and that's the matchup we'll get, even if the Levi's Stadium crowd has to sweat this one out.
You can read Rosenthal's entire analysis here:
The MMQB panel is divided on the Packers-49ers outcome:
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio likes the Packers:
Florio’s take: The 37-8 victory in Week 12 becomes a ball and chain for the 49ers this time around. Despite the margin, the game turned sharply against the Packers during a first half that featured dumb penalties, a very untimely fumble, a misguided decision to run from shotgun formation on fourth and one while down by only 10 points, and horrendous clock management near the end of the second quarter. If it’s a lot closer than 23-0 when the third quarter starts on Sunday, the Packers will have a very real chance to win — especially since Aaron Rodgers is keenly aware of his football mortality and Jimmy Garoppolo has the potential to make a critical mistake in crunch time. If the Packers can weather the early storm, they can steal a Super Bowl appearance late, setting up rematch of what was called at the time the AFL-NFL World Championship Game to cap the NFL’s 100th season.
Florio’s pick: Packers 24, 49ers 21.
You can get the take of PFT's Michael David Smith here:
Rob Reischel looks at lesser-known Packers who could play key roles Sunday:
Here we go again with the "Is Aaron Rodgers too risk-adverse?" question:
Burning question about Packers-49ers: Which team's edge rushers will have a bigger game?
The "Good Morning Football" folks stress the importance of forcing the 49ers to throw the ball:
Rodgers talks about growing up as a 49ers fan:
Video of Rodgers' "Hail Mary" plays never get old:
A look at the play that injured 49ers tight end George Kittle's ankle:
But Kittle seemed fine Thursday and was a full participant in practice:
The 49ers are trying to "weaponize" their rich tradition, writes ESPN's Nick Wagoner:
Kyle Shanahan has come a long way in his maturation as an NFL head coach:
Tom Oates writes about how Matt LaFleur must rise to the coaching challenge against Shanahan:
Michael Silver on what Sunday's game could mean for Rodgers' legacy:
What should Mike McCarthy's biggest offseason priority be as new Cowboys coach? Conor Orr of SI.com writes:
Follow through on offseason promises: In an interview with NBC’s Peter King, Mike McCarthy stated that he would like to assemble what would likely be the largest analytics department in football. McCarthy should be deep into that process now so he has time to align his new analytics hires with Dallas’ existing department and get everyone on the same page with the scouting staff.
You can read Orr's take on other teams' offseason priorities here:
McCarthy adds another former Packer to his coaching staff:
Former Packers quarterback Taysom Hill makes Pro Football Focus' list of top breakout candidates for the 2020 season.
PFF's Ben Linsey writes:
QB TAYSOM HILL, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Hill as a quarterback breakout candidate obviously only becomes possible if the Saints decide not to bring back both Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater while committing to Hill — a restricted free agent — as their starting quarterback. Alternatively, it could work outside of New Orleans if another team was intrigued enough by Hill’s unique skill set to make him an offer to be their starting signal-caller in 2020. If he gets a chance to play a large role next season, we’ve seen enough from him to at least be intrigued by what it would look like. Across his escapades as a passer, runner and receiver, Hill picked up an impressive 88.7 PFF overall grade on 266 offensive snaps this season.
This is far from a sure thing. We simply don’t know enough about Hill as a passer, as he had just 10 dropbacks combined in the regular season and postseason this past year. He did have more of those opportunities this preseason, and he impressed on them, completing 40 of 59 passes for 443 yards, three touchdowns and an interception while scrambling 11 times for 109 yards. That wasn’t against starting-caliber NFL defenses, but the only way to evaluate him in that capacity is to give him the chance. Who wouldn’t want to see Steve Young back on the field as a starter? At the very least, it would be fun.
You can check out the entire story here:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt