49ers 23

(12-4, 6-2 away)

Packers 20

(8-7-1, 4-3-1 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:40 PM ET, January 5, 2014

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI 

1 2 3 4 T
SF 6 7 0 1023
GB 0 10 0 1020

Top Performers

Passing: C. Kaepernick (SF) - 227 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Kaepernick (SF) - 7 CAR, 98 YDS

Receiving: M. Crabtree (SF) - 8 REC, 125 YDS

49ers-Packers Preview


While the return of Aaron Rodgers has the Green Bay Packers feeling confident offensively, the challenge falls on their much-maligned defense to contain Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

That's something the unit has failed to do against the dual-threat quarterback, who hopes to lead the defending NFC champions to their seventh straight victory Sunday in a wild-card game at Lambeau Field.

Although he denied rust was a factor after missing seven games with a broken collarbone, Rodgers struggled in the first half Sunday, going 14 of 22 for 145 yards with two interceptions at Chicago.

The three-time Pro Bowler, however, came back strong in the second half, connecting on 11 of 17 for 173 yards with two touchdowns -- including the go-ahead 48-yard TD pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds left.

"My arm felt good. Mentally, I felt good," Rodgers said on his weekly radio show. "I prepared hard all week, but there's always going to be some sort of re-indoctrination period, if you will. It was kind of like the preseason for me."

Despite going 0-4-1 during a stretch in which Rodgers was injured in a loss to the Bears on Nov. 4, the Packers (8-7-1) rallied to win three of their last four to claim a third straight NFC North title.

Green Bay, though, has struggled defensively over the past nine weeks, ranking 29th with 30.0 points, 30th with 404.2 total yards and 31st with 157.2 rushing yards allowed per game over that span.

Making matters worse, pass-rushing linebacker Clay Matthews will not play after breaking his right thumb for a second time this year.

"We're a playoff football team," coach Mike McCarthy said. "Our identity has changed. This team has embraced it, and we know it's going to take the full game to get it done, and that's the way we play."

Kaepernick is playing well heading into this meeting, completing 61.8 percent of his attempts for 1,395 yards with 10 TDs and one interception during San Francisco's six-game winning streak.

He's proved to be a nightmare matchup for McCarthy's defense, accounting for 895 total yards and seven touchdowns in two career starts against the Packers.

The third-year pro ran for a quarterback-record 181 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-31 victory over visiting Green Bay in an NFC divisional playoff game Jan. 12. Kaepernick then threw for a career-high 412 yards and three scores to lead the 49ers (12-4) to a 34-28 home win over the Packers in the Sept. 8 season opener.

Anquan Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in that contest en route to a team-best 85 catches for 1,179 yards and seven scores on the season. Vernon Davis added two TD receptions in the opener, and finished tied for third in the NFL with 13 scores.

"Green Bay is a completely different team than the team we saw in Week 1, as we are," Boldin said. "For us, we would like to carry that momentum. We are in a six-game winning streak."

Frank Gore was limited to a season-low 14 yards on 13 carries in a 23-20 win at Arizona on Sunday, but he could play a prominent role against Green Bay's poor run defense. He's rushed for an average of 91.7 yards while scoring in each of his last three meetings with the Packers.

A sprained right ankle has bothered Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy, but McCarthy said the rookie came out of Sunday's game in better condition than he did the previous contest. He finished with 66 yards and a touchdown, giving him 356 yards and five scores over his last four games.

Lacy was limited to 41 yards on 14 carries with a TD in first meeting of the season with the 49ers, who have the league's fourth-best run defense at 95.9 yards allowed per game.

Rodgers threw for 333 yards with three touchdowns and one interception in that matchup, while receivers Cobb and Jordy Nelson combined for 14 catches for 238 yards and two scores.

Cobb had missed 10 games with a broken shin before returning Sunday. Though he caught only two passes in his 37 snaps, both went for touchdowns.

Rodgers has connected on 66.7 percent of his attempts for 1,535 yards with 12 touchdowns and three picks in five career meetings with the 49ers, though Green Bay has dropped the last three.

He'll face another difficult test against a San Francisco team that ranked third in scoring defense at 17.0 points and fifth in total defense at 316.9 yards per game.

Linebacker NaVorro Bowman has been playing at a high level alongside Patrick Willis with three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in December.

Cornerback Carlos Rogers remains optimistic he'll play after injuring his right hamstring against the Cardinals.

"In terms of a challenge, our guys know the challenge," said coach Jim Harbaugh, who hopes to guide the 49ers to their sixth Super Bowl title. "Being in the playoffs is a chance at the ultimate chance."


Passing Leaders

B. Gabbert63.12031107
C. Kaepernick59.0161565
A. Rodgers60.73821318
S. Tolzien100.0400

Rushing Leaders

C. Hyde1154704.13
S. Draughn762633.51
E. Lacy1877584.13
J. Starks1486014.12

Receiving Leaders

A. Boldin6978911.44
T. Smith3366320.14
J. Jones5089017.88
R. Cobb7982910.56

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsSF
Yards PassingSF
Yards RushingSF
Yards AllowedSF
Pass Yds AllowedSF
Rush Yds AllowedSF

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Green Bay leads 6-4
Sep 8, 2013SF 34, GB 28
Jan 12, 2013SF 45, GB 31
Sep 9, 2012SF 30, @GB 22
Dec 5, 2010SF 16, @GB 34
Nov 22, 2009SF 24, @GB 30
Dec 10, 2006SF 19, GB 30
Nov 23, 2003SF 10, @GB 20
Dec 15, 2002SF 14, GB 20
Jan 13, 2002SF 15, @GB 25

Research Notes

Colin Kaepernick has a 91.1 Total QBR in 2 career starts against the Packers. In those 2 games, he has averaged 337.5 passing yards and 101.5 rushing yards with 7 passing and rushing touchdowns combined.
Green Bay is 16-4 at home in the playoffs all-time but after winning each of their first 13 home playoff games, they are just 3-4 in their last 7 games.
The 49ers sacked or put Aaron Rodgers under duress on 14 of his 32 dropbacks (44 percent), despite sending five or more pass rushers on just three of Rodgers' dropbacks. All four of the 49ers' sacks came via a standard, four-man rush. Rodgers found success under duress when targeting Randall Cobb, but struggled to find other receivers.
The Packers have lost five of their last eight home playoff games after winning each of their first 13.
Teams trailing at halftime in the Wild Card round went 3-1 this year as the Packers were the only team that failed to rally in the 2nd half. The trend was completely different the last 10 seasons. Teams trailing at halftime of a Wild Card game had gone 8-31, going no better than 1-3 in any one season.
Michael Crabtree's 3 games with 100 Rec yds in the postseason are fourth most in 49ers history.
Tramon Williams' interception of Colin Kaepernick was just the second turnover forced by the Packers in four games against the 49ers since the start of the 2012 season.
Aaron Rodgers only attempted one pass more than 10 yards downfield in the first half.
Vernon Davis scored his 14th touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter Sunday. Davis has scored 14 of the 49ers' 22 receiving touchdowns this season, by far the highest percentage of any player in the league.
Colin Kaepernick scrambled four times for a career-high 85 yards Sunday, the second-most scramble yards for a quarterback in a single game this season (Russell Wilson - 91 in Week 5 against the Colts). Kaepernick's two highest single-game rushing totals have come in his two playoff meetings with the Packers, doing most of his damage via scrambles. --In four career playoff games, Kaepernick is averaging 11.0 yards before contact per rush, most among all players with multiple rushes over the last two postseasons.
Colin Kaepernick was 0-for-4 and has been sacked once in the red zone in the first half against the Packers.
For the 2nd straight postseason against the Packers, Colin Kaepernick had at least 200 passing yards and 95 rushing yards in a game. The only other player with 200 passing yards and 95 rushing yards in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era was Donovan McNabb for the Eagles in 2003 -- also against the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers failed to complete a pass on two first quarter attempts Sunday. It was the first time in his career he had no completions when attempting a pass in the first quarter.
Kaepernick was 0-for-4 and sacked once on his red-zone dropbacks, while the 49ers averaged 4.8 yards per rush in the red zone, including Frank Gore's 10-yard touchdown. The 49ers only scored a touchdown on one of four red-zone opportunities Sunday.
Jim Harbaugh said after yesterday's NFC Wild Card game that, "Michael Crabtree catches everything. It's unbelievable." He added a moment later, "If my life depended on it and somebody had to catch the ball, I'd enlist Michael Crabtree to do it." But the numbers don't back up Harbaugh's statement. Crabtree entered the league in 2009. Since then, he has dropped 5.9 percent of his targets, ranked 64th out of 69 qualified wide receivers in that span.
Colin Kaepernick was 1-for-5 for 17 yards and an INT on play action in the first half.
At the end of the first quarter, the Packers had as many total yards (6) as the 49ers had points.
Frank Gore now has five rushing touchdowns in the postseason, three shy of Steve Young's franchise record.
Colin Kaepernick's Total QBR was 88.8, amazingly his lowest in 3 career starts against the Packers. Kaepernick now has an 87.9 Total QBR in 4 career postseason starts, the highest among any QB since 2006 (min. 2 starts)
The 49ers sacked or put Aaron Rodgers under duress on eight of his 18 dropbacks (44 percent). The 49ers have only sent five or more pass rushers on one of Rodgers' 18 dropbacks (6 percent). During the regular season, the 49ers blitzed on only 19 percent of dropbacks for opposing quarterbacks, second-fewest in the league.
Aaron Rodgers was pressured (sacked or under duress) on all four of his first quarter dropbacks. The Packers improved their protection in the second quarter, with Rodgers under pressure on 4-of-14 dropbacks. Rodgers was also more effective in those situations.
After going 3-for-3 on field goals today, Phil Dawson has made 32 of his last 33 field goal attempts (97.0%) dating back to Week 5, the highest field goal percentage in the NFL since that time. Dawson's only miss came in Week 17 vs Cardinals...from 24 yards away.

ESPN Stats & Information