49ers: 3 keys to victory in NFC Championship Game against the Packers

49ers (Cunningham/Getty Images)
49ers (Cunningham/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
49ers (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

2. Limit the Packers pass rush

The Packers offense has found its stride in recent weeks with a healthy Davante Adams, a surging Aaron Jones, and the always incredible Aaron Rodgers at the helm.

But what’s really made the difference has been their much-improved defense. And much like the 49ers defensive transformation this season, that has been made possible by the presence of a vastly improved pass rush.

More from San Francisco 49ers

The duo of Z’Darius Smith and Preston Smith has been a cornerstone of this Packers team and one of the primary reasons for their success this season. Both were signed as free agents in the offseason and each of them managed to put together career years in 2019.

The former finished with a whopping 13.5 sacks and a team-leading 37 QB hits while the latter totaled 12.0 sacks which were easily a career-high. Both had two sacks in the Packers’ Divisional Round victory over the Seahawks last week.

And if the 49ers are going to find success on offense, they’re going to need to slow down the so-called “Smith Brothers.” Za’Darius Smith should be matched up with the ever-reliable veteran Joe Staley while Preston Smith will have his hands full with Mike McGlinchey.

McGlinchey struggled a little early on last week but rebounded nicely and will look to carry that momentum over into a great game against the Packers.

The Packers have followed a 49ers-like method to defensive success in 2019 and San Francisco will need to do everything they can to avoid falling victim to their own blueprint.