Niners are not invincible
Stephen O'Brien, Packers contributor
CREATED Sep. 7, 2013
There seems to be a general consensus among many that the Green Bay Packers are going to lose to the San Francisco 49ers.
Heck, even I was trying to convince myself for a while that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Kaep ran all over the Packers again.
As fans, we are telling ourselves that the Packers are a young team, they have rookies who aren’t ready, they have injuries that can excuse us from being too hard on ourselves when they lose.
But do we need to be adding disclaimers to a team that has the most illustrious history in the NFL?
The Niners can be beaten.
The Packers weaknesses may not be weaknesses at all and Harbaugh’s men are not perfect either.
Firstly, the notion that rookies struggle is certainly a good rule to apply to the pro game. That said, look at those rookies that have had superstar first seasons, some against all odds.
RGIII, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Kirk Cousins in 2012. Wilson was a 3rd round pick, Alfred Morris was a 6th round pick, Cousins was a 4th rounder.
Will David Bakhtiari be next?
Aldon Smith had a monster season his rookie year also. This a worry for the Packers as they play him tomorrow but something tells me he might not be as effective.
Presently, Smith is caught up in two lawsuits stemming from a party in June 2012 where Smith himself received stab wounds.
Two men are claiming to have been shot at that party and have brought a case against Smith.
Will this off field distraction impact Smith’s game? It could very well be a point that the Packers could exploit to gain advantage.
The two lawsuits have been brought within the last week and the Niners organization have released statements regarding the situation. That will bring a lot of pressure on a player.
The scales of justice and Jim Harbaugh on your case? That’s scary.
Another area that is a potential weak spot for the Niners is their CB position.
Chris Culliver is out with an ACL tear and Nnamdi Asomugha has had limited practice time due to a collarbone injury but is set to play.
Protecting against Rodgers' pin point passes to WRs that can haul the ball in is almost impossible at times and with limited practice, Asomugha will struggle.
The biggest talking point and potential strike point for the Packers is hitting Kaepernick or at least voicing that he will be punished.
Harbaugh has been sounding off about the rule that if Kaepernick runs the read option, his protection as a QB is lost and he can be hit like a ball carrier, whether he has the ball or not.
This point is massively important.
Kaep was basically a rookie last year and his level of confidence, I feel, comes from naivety.
Basically, Kaepernick hasn’t been hit hard yet. Most quarterbacks suffer a few devastating hits a season and this makes them think twice about how and when they release the ball.
Kaepernick played half a season last year, the Niners were on a roll and he was running over defenses with a smirk and a bicep kiss without a care in the world.
Now starting a season with a different team that need to jell, shake the dust off and deal with a defense that have been planning for them since their crushing loss in the playoffs, Kaep may find himself in a vulnerable position.
Also, Harbaugh’s perspective is very important here too.
If I had two high end laptops at my possession for example, I wouldn’t be too fearful about being a bit rough with one, risking bringing it on the packed train, throwing it in my rucksack to bring on vacation.
That’s the way Harbaugh was with his QBs last year.
He had Kaep to play around with but always had the safety net in proven first rounder Alex Smith. He could afford to let Kaep run amok, bolt down the middle, be daring, as he always had a player that could instantly step back into the fold with Alex Smith.
This time around, if Kaep goes down injured, the whole Niner offense based around his freakish athletic ability will grind to a shuddering halt.
The Packers need to put in punishing hits early.
I don’t mean that in an illegal New Orlean Saints kind of way, I mean it in a way that it has been meant forever; it is a defense’s job to get to the quarterback.
At least with Kaep, sometimes he comes to you. Harbaugh accused the Packers of ‘player targeting’ when the Claymaker stated that they were going to go after Kaep.
Someone needs to remind Harbaugh that going after the QB is kind of the whole point of the defense.
So, the Niners are by no means invincible.
We shouldn’t have to state caveats as to why it is ok that we are going to lose.
Our rookies could really step up this year making blistering runs and defending against a distracted Aldon Smith, ARod could exploit a weak Niners backfield and Clay Matthews could have done enough to scare Harbaugh into thinking twice about risking injury to his star QB.
The Niners do not have the luxury of having first rounder Alex Smith on the bench any more to step back in if Kaep runs into trouble.
As we say in Irish, ‘tús maith leath na hoibre’, a good start is half the work and let’s hope the Packers jump out of the blocks early and get this season off to a blistering start.