Can Packers slow down the 49ers?

What worked for SF against GB last season, and how Packers can stop it

Updated: September 6, 2013, 11:02 AM ET
By Gary Horton | ESPN Insider

Kaepernick & GoreStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesColin Kaepernick ran the read-option to perfection last year against Green Bay.

The San Francisco 49ers ended the Green Bay Packers' 2012 season with an impressive 45-31 victory in the divisional playoffs as their offense rolled up 579 yards, including 321 yards on the ground. The Packers looked ill-prepared for the 49ers' read-option, and they were on their heels all game. In fact, Green Bay's defensive performance was so bad that head coach Mike McCarthy sent coordinator Dom Capers and his defensive staff to Texas A&M this offseason to study the nuances of this offense and how to better stop it. The Packers certainly hope that they learned something, because they face Colin Kaepernick on Sunday in San Francisco.

Let's take a look at five plays that make San Francisco's offense so successful and what Green Bay will try and do to stop them this Sunday.

1. Inside run game -- We see a lot of the Pistol offense, where Kaepernick rides the belly of the back and hands off the ball inside if the defense takes away the edge, but this offense has numerous other wrinkles that are hard to defend. They love to use "heavy" packages, which feature multiple tight end sets and even an occasional extra offensive lineman as a blocker. That usually forces defenses to stay with their base personnel instead of going to smaller, more athletic sub-packages, giving San Francisco good passing game matchups. However, the Packers play with nickel personnel between 60 and 70 percent of the snaps, which makes them vulnerable versus a power run game.

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.