When the NFL schedule was released, this game looked like it had the potential to be a marquee matchup of NFC playoff teams. That storyline vanished when San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the season in Week 3 with a torn ACL.
So instead the 49ers arrive in Wisconsin with a 1-4 record, and we get the less-inspiring C.J. Beathard vs. Aaron Rodgers quarterback battle. The 49ers can put on a brave face, and Beathard actually moved the ball well last week against Arizona. But in the loaded NFC, starting 1-4 is digging yourself a deep hole.
The Packers (2-2-1) still have plenty of time to make a playoff run, especially with Rodgers playing well. But one of their two wins was thanks to an unlikely fourth-quarter rally in the season opener after they fell behind 20-3 to the Bears. Other than a shutout win over Buffalo at home, Green Bay has been as mediocre as its record.
San Francisco at Green Bay
Kickoff: Monday, Oct. 15 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Packers -9.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Rodgers in vintage form
Aaron Rodgers has been battling a knee injury since the season opener, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his numbers. Through five games he has thrown 10 touchdowns with just one interception, and he is on pace for what would be his first 5,000-yard passing season. The 49ers haven’t been great against the pass, although their numbers look better after facing rookie Josh Rosen last week. Then again, even while holding Rosen and the Cardinals under 200 yards passing, San Francisco gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass and failed to force a turnover. Rodgers should have a big night.
2. Niners must take care of the ball
Injuries are putting the offensive genius of San Franciso head coach Kyle Shanahan to the test. Top back Jerrick McKinnon was lost for the year in preseason; rising star QB Garoppolo lasted less than three games; receiver Marquise Goodwin has been hobbled by a hamstring injury; and running back Matt Breida, who was averaging 7.5 yards per carry, is doubtful for this one with an ankle injury. Despite all that, the Niners did put up 447 yards last week, and Beathard threw for 349. The problem was they also turned it over five times. Seeing as its defense has only three takeaways all season, the San Francisco offense can’r give Rodgers and the Packers that much help.
3. Packers should be desperate
The schedule dictates that Green Bay must win this game going into its bye week to put itself in position for a playoff run. While there will be 10 games left, the road coming out of the week off looks to be bumpy. The Packers play four of their next five on the road, and all are tough trips: Los Angeles to face the Rams, New England, Seattle (on a Thursday, no less) and Minnesota. If Green Bay can’t getby the beat-up 49ers at home, it’s hard to imagine it surviving that gauntlet.
This would be a tough matchup for the 49ers even if they were fully healthy. It’s a game the Packers have to have and it’s at Lambeau Field, where they have not lost this season. With its offense crippled by injury and its defense unable to force turnovers, it could be a long night for San Francisco.