San Francisco 49ers: Breaking Down Defense From Wild Card Playoff Win Over Green Bay Packers


Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Perrish Cox (20) celebrates with cornerback Tramaine Brock (26) following a play during the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers came into Sunday’s NFC Wild Card Playoff against the San Francisco 49ers with the third-most prolific offense in the NFL, averaging 400.2 yards per game in the regular season.

San Francisco ranked fifth in total defense, allowing 316.9 yards a contest.

When these two teams met in Week 1—a 34-28 win for the 49ers—Green Bay finished the day with 385 total yards, short of their season average but well more than San Francisco’s defensive average.

Of course, it wasn’t 69 degrees at kickoff the way it was when the teams met in September, but the 49er defense still had a whale of a game in limiting Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense from getting the so-called “chunk” plays (plays where at least 15 yards is gained).

Green Bay didn’t get its first chunk play until there was 1:48 left in the first half, when Rodgers connected with Jordy Nelson for a gain of 19 yards on the final drive of the first half. That was the Packers only chunk play of the first half.

In the fourth quarter, Rodgers scrambled and found Randall Cobb for a 26-yard gain on what would be Green Bay’s final touchdown drive and another Rodgers scramble ended in a Cobb catch for a gain of 25 yards.

Those three plays accounted for 70 of Green Bay’s 285 total yards on the day; the Packers did run for 124 yards, but had to work for it on 31 carries, with the longest run being 10 yards.

But, wow, did the 49ers take away Green Bay’s bread-and-butter in the passing game. Rodgers was 17-for-26 for 177 yards passing, the lowest total of his nine career postseason starts, and the fifth-lowest for a complete game in Rodgers’ career.

The 49ers spent most of the game in nickel to counter the Packers’ multiple-wide receiver looks—according to, nickel back Perrish Cox was on the field for 62 of San Francisco’s 63 defensive snaps.

That led to Green Bay trying to run the ball against the smaller defensive front, but they were only able to do so to the tune of four yards a carry.

Credit the Packers for being able to grind out some scoring drives without the benefit of chunk plays, but also credit the 49ers for taking those plays away from Green Bay. The Packers inability to strike quickly was a key component in San Francisco’s win.