Things to Watch For: Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers

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SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 19: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers goes under center against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship game at Levi's Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A rematch of last seasons NFC championship game, the Green Bay Packers travel to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday Night Football. Fresh off a disappointing loss at the hands of their divisional rival Minnesota Vikings, Matt Lafleur‘s group will look to get back in the win column in their house of horrors from a year ago.

Decimated by injuries all season long, the 49ers lost starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and star tight end George Kittle in a blowout loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. They currently sit at the bottom of the ultra-competitive NFC West with a record of 4-4. Kyle Shanahan‘s group will look to start a late-season push for the playoffs in Week 9 with a victory. As the second half of the NFL season begins, here are three things to watch for in Green Bay vs. San Francisco.

Things To Watch For: Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers

Injuries

Expected to be without running backs Jamaal Williams and AJ Dillon after it was revealed Dillion tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, Matt Lafleur’s group heads into this one shorthanded at the position. With starter Aaron Jones expected to be a game-time decision with a lingering calf issue, the Packers will rely on rookie Dexter Williams and swiss army knife Tyler Ervin to fill the void on Thursday Night.

They lost starting quarterback Garoppolo to an ankle injury on Sunday. The 49ers will also be without star tight end George Kittle. Unfortunately, it was announced he would be placed on the injured reserve list. With starting tailback Raheem Mostert still out with a high ankle sprain and backup Tevin Coleman still hindered by a knee injury, the team will turn things over to fourth-year quarterback Nick Mullens and rookie back Jamycal Hasty to keep their playoff hopes alive.

House of Horrors

Heading into Week 12 a year ago, rookie head coach Matt Lafleur and the Packers were riding high. Winners of eight of their first ten games, the team traveled to Santa Clara to battle the 9-1 49ers. A game projected to be an instant classic by many turned out not to be. San Francisco held Aaron Rodgers to a season-low 104 passing yards in a 37-8 beatdown. Robert Saleh‘s group would harass Rodgers all game long. They sacked the veteran quarterback five times while holding Green Bay to just six percent on third downs.

Destined to meet up later in the season, Green Bay would have the opportunity to right the ship. Matching up once again on the road at the 49ers, the Packers were run off the field. Harassing Rodgers and the team’s offense all game long, Nick Bosa and company brought him down three more times in a 37-20 drubbing. With Bosa and star pass rusher Dee Ford out Thursday Night, along with number one cornerback Richard Sherman, look for the Packers to exorcise their demons from a year ago.

Filling a Role

Rumored to be in the market for Texans wide receiver Will Fuller leading up to Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline, general manager Brian Gutekunst and the Packers front office opted to stand pat and not make a move. Remaining with their current lineup at receiver for the season’s duration, the Packers need someone to step up behind star wideout Davante Adams. With Allen Lazard still not ready to return with a core muscle injury, look for Marquez Valdes-Scantling or Equanimeous St. Brown to have an expanded role on Thursday night if their team will have any success.

One more name to watch for is tight end Robert Tonyan. He’s developing a larger role in the Packers offense over the past few weeks. The Indiana State product has become a favorite of Rodgers. Desperate for a continued contribution from the tight end position over the last few seasons, if Tonyan can have a big performance on Thursday, look for the Packers to come out on top.

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