The 49ers play the Packers Saturday at the Stick. In the meantime, I’ll break down the key matchups.
Mike McCarthy vs. Vic Fangio
Fangio wants Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner to play deep zone coverage to take away the deep passes.
Fangio called for a two-deep shell frequently in the 49ers’ Week 1 game against the Packers, and it worked. The Packers stubbornly and fruitlessly kept throwing deep, even on third and short.
Since that game, the Packers have adjusted and the 49ers have not. The Packers throw short much more often, to running back DuJuan Harris and slot receiver Randall Cobb. Those players keep the chains moving for the Packers.
Now it’s time for Fangio to adjust. He has not figured out an effective way to cover slot receivers all season. When the 49ers played the Rams, practically all St. Louis did was throw to their slot receiver (Danny Amendola in the first game, Chris Givens in the second), and it worked almost every time.
That tells me Fangio has not learned from his mistakes.
To win this matchup, Fangio must unveil complex coverages the 49ers have not used this season.
Also, Fangio needs to figure out a way to generate a pass rush. The 49ers have not had one since Justin Smith got hurt.
That’s a lot for Fangio to figure out.