By Danny Golding 

Aaron Rodgers Jimmy G 49ers Packers.jpg

For the first 8 games of the season all of the talk was; are the 49ers a legit playoff contender or did they just get lucky with an easy schedule? Well, they now have the toughest test to try to prove that they are indeed a deep playoff threat. The Packers, Ravens and Saints are a combined 24-6. The game on Sunday was originally suppose to be a 1:00 start, but has been flexed to Sunday Night Football. Aaron Rodgers this year has a 64.8% completion percentage, thrown for 2718 yards, 17 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions! Defensively, the 49ers most likely are gonna be without Dee Ford for a couple weeks, after he suffered a hamstring injury following a sack on Kyler Murray in the 36-26 win over the Cardinals.  The defensive dominance has been the key element in the 49ers almost undefeated record, however the run defense hasn’t been as dominant as of late. In the 2 match ups against the Cardinals, the Niners gave up a combined 288 yards, 147 yards in the Monday Night Football match up against the Seahawks, and 130 yards against Christian McCaffrey and the Carolina Panthers in the 55-13 blowout win. They now prepare to face Aaron Jones and the Packers. Robert Saleh is confident that how they have defended against the run lately is not an issue. The Niners are battling injuries on the defensive front with Kwon Alexander’s season ending torn pec in Arizona, D.J Jones’ groin injury,  Azeez Al-Shaair’s concussion, and Dee Ford’s quad. Jones and Shaair are going to play against Green Bay. The Niners are going to be going up against Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson, and Drew Brees these next 3 weeks. The defense is going to have to be dominant facing 3 high powered offenses.

The biggest injury concern is on the offensive side of the ball as George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders are both battling injuries. Kittle suffered a knee/ankle injury in the Halloween game in Arizona, he finished playing the game but has not played in the Seattle game or the home game against the Cardinals. Sanders’ is battling a ribs injury that he suffered at the end of the first half in the Seahawks game. He was able to play the first 3 quarters against the Cardinals battling pain, and is questionable against the Packers. Kittle is doubtful. The Niners were able to utilize Deebo Samuel last week as he had 8 receptions for 134 yards. Kyle Juszczyk was a big factor with 7 receptions for 63 yards. Richie James Jr’s 57 yard reception when the Niners were down 16-0 and struggling on offense, was the spark that got them going. The Niners will need to utilize all their offensive weapons with their main stars injured. The last 3 games the 49ers have been held to a combined 229 yards rushing, including only 34 yards in the Arizona game last week. Tevin Coleman was still able to help the offense as he had 3 receptions for 48 yards and Jeff Wilson Jr caught the game winning touchdown reception. In this Niners Packers rivalry, some memorable moments come to mind. Most notably Steve Young’s game winning touchdown pass to Terrell Owens for a 23-20 win in the 1998 NFC Wildcard game and Colin Kaepernick’s 181 yard and 2 touchdown rushing performance and 263 yard and 2 touchdown passing performance which lead the Niners to a 45-31 win. This game on Sunday could very well mean the return of this rivalry as the Northern California native Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and Jimmy Garoppolo and the Niners look to battle it out on Sunday Night Football, and these 2 teams could very well meet again in the playoffs.