49ers-Packers: This ain’t Week 1, kids
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though Niners blogs from here to Timbuktu are talking about how this weekend’s divisional playoff matchup with the Green Bay Packers is a “Week 1 rematch.”
I’m willing to bet most of you crazy kids out there in Readerland — while I still love you all dearly — had a little trouble spelling “Kaepernick” at the beginning of the season.
Trust me, these are not the same two teams that faced off on September 9.
The 49er-Packer rivalry has had a feverish pitch to it ever since two guys named Steve Young and Brett Favre were at the helm. But while the need to pound each other into the turf hasn’t changed, the dynamic of each team has. Even over the short course of 12 weeks.
Recall the talk that surrounded the 49ers before Week 1: Was Alex Smith really over Coach Jim Harbaugh “evaluating” Peyton Manning? Was Harbaugh ever going to narrow down his options at wide receiver? Was the team’s 2011-2012 success just a flash in the pan?
Now, a concussion, an elbow, and some “jive turkey gobble” later, the Red-and-Gold will be hosting Aaron Rogers & The Discount-Double-Check at Candlestick. Only this time, they don’t just need an impressive win over a familiar foe. They need to win, or hang up their cleats for the season.
Sure, San Francisco has home field advantage, which eliminates the stress of wondering how Colin Kaepernick will perform at Lambeau Field. (Though I’m already willing to bet he’d be out in that soggy-cold 20-degree madness without any Under Armour keeping tatted triceps warm.)
Keep in mind, Green Bay isn’t the same team either.
As Chronicle writer and Bay Area football goddess Ann Killion points out: Had it not been for bad play-calling by those replacement refs back in September, the Packers would be hosting this game at Lambeau. Green Bay’s an angry, competitive force, and Rogers isn’t going to let his childhood love for the Niners cloud his vision of victory on game day.
Both teams have been hit with injuries. Green Bay saw swift receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley go down in recent weeks, though it is being reported that they will be on the field with the rest of the Packer offense this weekend.
And Niner faithful don’t need to be reminded of how important it is to have Justin Smith’s presence on the field come Saturday at 5 p.m.
Arrowheadpride.com wrote Saturday’s divisional match-up “might be the best game of the weekend.”And while I’m inclined to agree, these are not the same two teams that met up back in early September.