The keys to 49ers vs. Packers

Scouting thoughts on San Francisco and Green Bay ahead of their matchup

Updated: January 2, 2014, 10:44 AM ET
By Gary Horton | ESPN Insider

Aaron RodgersAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhAaron Rodgers led Green Bay to a thrilling Week 17 win. Will the Packers' run continue?

To preview the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs, we tasked ESPN Insider's Gary Horton with reviewing the film on the teams involved. In this edition, he provides his keys to the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers on Jan. 5, including one big play that could change the game.

Previews: PHI-NO | SF-GBSD-CINKC-IND

This is the fourth time these two storied franchises have met since the beginning of the 2012 season, and the 49ers have had the Packers' number each time.

San Francisco is a complete team and is capable of beating any team in any environment while Green Bay always has a puncher's chance with Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup. January in Green Bay means there will be weather concerns, but both of these teams can run the ball and adjust to the conditions. The 49ers are probably the more talented team, but beating the resilient Packers on the road will not be easy.

Who wins this game?


San Francisco offense

Versatility is the best word to describe this San Francisco offense. The 49ers can run or pass out of a variety of personnel packages, and that really puts pressure on opposing defenses to recognize what is coming and make their own personnel adjustments. The threat of the read-option and Colin Kaepernick running outside forces defenses to play more horizontally and set the edge, which opens up more room inside for that physical run game.

The Niners are so creative with their blocking schemes up front that it is almost impossible to key on the offensive line. We will see traps, pulls, whams and they will even show some false keys by having a blocker pull away from the play.


To see the rest of Gary Horton's scouting report on this game, you must be an Insider.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.