Pat Higgins

The last time the San Francisco 49ers hosted a home game in front of a sellout crowd was in January 2020 in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. In that game, the 49ers rolled over the Packers, jumping out to a 27-0 halftime lead after scoring points on four of their first five possessions in the first half. In those two quarters of football, the Packers surrendered 114 yards of rushing, par for the course in a season where they ranked 26th in the league in opponent rush yards per game with 129 on average.

A lot has changed since January 2020, but in this matchup, a lot remains the same. The 49ers remain committed to the run game, ranking 3rd in the league in run / pass percentage, racking up 124 yards per game on the ground, good for 9th in the league. On the opposite side of the ball, the Packers’ rush defense continues to be a liability, ranking 29th in the league with 140 yards of rushing allowed through two weeks. The Saints rolled for 171 yards in Week 1, while the Lions plodded along for 104 yards on the round with 46 yards from Jared Goff.

The 49ers are banged up at the RB position, but their backfield has been by committee since Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach.

The 49ers OL has allowed just one sack through two games, while the Packers DL has picked up just one sack through their first two games. Considering Za’darius Smith went on IR ahead of last week’s MNF matchup with the Lions, Green Bay is going to struggle to put pressure on Jimmy G. Considering Kyle Shanahan is one of the best playcallers and designers of scheme in the NFL, he’s surely going to roll into the home opener on Sunday with a plan to methodically dismantle Green Bay’s defense. Through two weeks, Green Bay’s opponents are 6-6 in the red zone in scoring touchdowns, while San Fran’s offense is 4-4 in their own red zone trips.

The major red flag in this matchup is lack of depth in San Fran’s secondary against the Green Bay passing attack. That said, their pass rush has been sufficient through two games and should be able to apply pressure on a banged up Packers’ offensive line that’s missing LT David Bakhtiari to start the season. Bakhtiari’s backup, Elgton Jenkins, did not practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury and is questionable for the matchup with a front 7 that will feature Joey Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw.

Ultimately, the Packers are not a physical football team. They have showed a tendency to get pushed around by physical teams on a consistent basis over the last three years under LaFleur. They’re going to get rolled in the running game on the defensive side of the ball, and if they can’t pressure Garoppolo without their own best pass rusher in Za’darius Smith, there are going to be several 9-minute drives in this matchup in which Rodgers has to watch with his helmet in hand on the sidelines waiting for a stop.

There are key injuries to watch in this one as Thursday’s practices conclude, but this line is moving down from -3.5 to -3 across the board. I will be on San Francisco -3 in this matchup, riding the more physical team that’s better coached and more well balanced on both sides of the football.