To football fans, opening Sunday of the NFL season is like Christmas day to a little kid. It’s the time of the year when everybody thinks it’s their team’s year to win the Super Bowl. Many people, myself included, will be all set in our favorite chairs, remote in one hand with an ice cold beverage in the other. Fans alike will be sporting their favorite player’s jersey, including me with my #12 Aaron Rodgers. Good luck accessories will be tested and most likely thrown in the trash after week 1. While many games are big, the Green Bay Packers against the San Francisco 49ers might be the most intriguing game on the week 1 slate.
It’s the third time in 365 days these two teams have met, with the 49ers taking both games last season, including the NFC Divisional Playoff game. Much focus for the Packers will be on the defense’s ability to stop the 49ers read option attack. In the playoff game last year, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had the Packers linebackers running around in circles trying to guess if he still had the ball on the option. By the time they figured out what was happening, Kaepernick was kissing his biceps in the end zone.
Now, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has had almost eight months to solve the read-option puzzle. Linebacker Clay Matthews said this week that their defensive players have been told if quarterbacks try a read-option fake, they are only treated as a quarterback once they are completely out of the play. In other words, players can tee off on a quarterback until he is far away from the play, or until he is in a passing form.
This talk from Matthews has gotten 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh to suggest that the Packers will be targeting Kaepernick and trying to get him out of the game. I think this is just complaining from Harbaugh, who is merely trying to make sure his offensive plan isn’t ruined. Regardless of what the Packers plan is, the goal is simple: stop Kaepernick on the ground and force him to beat you in the air.
While all the experts have been talking about Kaepernick, they haven’t been talking about Rodgers, which may be a good thing. Being the less discussed quarterback might fuel a fire under Rodgers, which could lead to big things from the Packers quarterback. I will end with just one question. Who is ready for some football?