OK everybody, let's dive right in. I'm not sure on this one, not yet anyway. Bulaga has had a really, really good season, so even at 30 (31 in March) he's probably going to be expensive. So this is something the Packers have to think about. Veldheer has filled in really well, no doubt. There's still probably a difference between doing it for a half-game here and full game there, and doing it for 16 games. I'm not sure how Veldheer would hold up in that role, but it's not like it's something to just rule out. He might be able to. Or maybe if they don't think they can afford Bulaga they bring back Veldheer and draft a T in the first three or maybe four rounds, and Veldheer is the fallback if the rookie isn't ready to play. I'm just not sure on whether his body will hold in the long term (ie, a full season). But he is part of the big decision they have to make on Bulaga.
That's what I've been wondering, and I've kind of thought all along he might end up a tackle in the nickel and dime. When I asked Pettine about whether Gary could play in there full time, he made it sound like he thought Gary was better suited outside because of his size. But I still wonder if Gary can add 10 pounds and play inside. He's more a power than speed player anyway. It's not like it's a disaster if he doesn't move inside -- if he's a good player there will be ways to get him on the field, both in rotation and special packages, to make it work out fine. You can never have too many pass rushers, and Pettine has been using that three OLB, two DL personnel group a little more late in the season (usually with Fackrell, not Gary). In rotation at OLB he'd allow the Smiths a little more rest. But yeah, I still wonder if he's a little out of position at OLB and would be suited at play DT.
The LaFleur-Shanahan connection makes this matchup especially interesting, because each knows so much about how the other views offensive football. They could think themselves into knots saying, "I know he knows I like to do this, so I'm going to do this, only he knows that I know that he knows ..." So yeah, Shanahan and Saleh are going to know some things about LaFleur and the scheme that make LaFleur's job tougher. Cuts both ways thought. LaFleur knows Shanahan.
I read the same thing. In their press conference yesterday Haslem and Stefanski said the coach doesn't have to submit his game plan to the analytics people or the owner, though the owner did say he and the coach will meet on Mondays to discuss the previous day's game. I'm not a big fan of the coach hiring the GM either but some teams have done it and are having success, most notably Kansas City. I still like the streamlined GM is the boss and hires the coach approach, but there's more than one way to do it.
Yeah, he just said last week that early in the year he still had a hip flexor injury that was a carryover from late last season, and it took him about half this season to get back to full strength. I thought he was playing OK early in the season except for the penalties, though he has been playing at a really high level more recently.
The 49ers have a lot of talent. I haven't seen/heard much about the Packers wanting payback, but we can be pretty sure they won't go into this game overconfident, right? And maybe San Francisco will even if the coach has warned them that teams that have beaten somebody by 25 points or more and faced that team again in the playoffs are only 16-9. Yeah, it comes down to execution, but what happened the last game might affect the level of commitment in preparation during the week, which can show up in the execution on Sunday.
They should be better prepared. How could they not? LaFleur was clearly outcoached in that first game, whether it was because Shanahan knew him so well or he just was thrown off by coaching against his good friend and mentor (Shanahan) as well as another good friend (Saleh) and his brother, or who knows what. But whatever it was, he was out-coached. I suspect that really stuck in his craw, and I have to think he's approaching this week with a vengeance as far as prep time and film study and thinking things through.
I don't know that it was all flu. Bulaga, for instance, had a 24-hour bug, at least that's what LaFleur said. Yes, I think it's standard that all NFL teams get flu shots. But as we all know, getting a flu shot does not guarantee avoiding the flu. There are many different strains.
One of the more important matchups in this game, that's for sure. I'd have to think Campbell will be a part of that plan, as will Savage and Amos. Good luck. Kittle is probably the best tight end in the league. Maybe they'll try something they haven't done much of this year and hit him at the LOS. The drawback is that can slow a guy if he's rushing the passer, but in this case maybe it would be worth it.
Yeah, that rule is a little strange. They NFL requires that they win the entire challenge, not just whether or not it's a fumble, but also the recovery. Just like if you challenge the spot, and they change the spot but you're still short of the first down, you lose the challenge even though you were right that the spot was wrong. That strikes me as a bad way to do it, but that's the rule. On the Graham play, they must have been able see by the lines on the field that the spot the Packers had was a first down.
Yeah, he played only 10 snaps. Everything was on the line, so that tells you where they think he's at. They preferred having Fackrell (34 snaps) be the primary rotational guy and the Smiths play a lot rather than mix Gary in there regularly.
They would have the element of surprise. I just don't know who it would be with. I don't know whether any of their WRs or RBs can throw the ball very well.
They're doing two classes this year as part of the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the NFL. One class was picked by what they're calling a blue-ribbon panel (former GMs, some NFL historians and a few regular HOF voters). That class consists of 10 seniors candidates (players retired for more than 25 years), three contributors (GMs, commissioners, etc.) and two coaches. The panel voted on that class late last week and announced it today -- the HOF announced Johnson and Cowher over the weekend, presumably for the publicity because both are on NFL pregame shows. Then the regular class will be chosen the normal way, at the HOF selectors meeting the day before the Super Bowl in Miami. We hear presentations on and discuss all 15 candidates, cut the list to 10, then five, then vote up or down on the final five, with 80 percent yes required to get in. The results are announced that night on the NFL honors show.
This game is a tough matchup, the 49ers have an excellent DL, which will make it tough for the Packers to run and can pressure the QB without blitzing. But as you suggest, the Packers have played better the last month or so. Of course they have a chance. They're the underdog for good reason, but if they can get off to a good start, for instance, who knows how that might change things? Just look at Tennessee-Baltimore. I'm thinking the Packers have about a one in three chance. Now, I thought that about the Vikings (assuming Cook played) and was wrong, the 49ers dominated them (worse than the score suggested). But I think the Packers are better than the Vikings -- the Vikings' OL is bad, whereas the Packers' is pretty good, and their tackles give them at least a chance to block Bosa and Ford.
I don't know, that's game-plan stuff and they're pretty tight lipped about that. But I do wonder if we'll see more of it this week against SF's talented DL. Also wonder if we'll see Jones and Williams on the field together a few snaps, like earlier in the year, or Jones and Ervin, as they've done a little more of lately.
I'd say because going the year early than year late route is playing the percentages. I first learned about it hearing and reading about former St. Louis Cardinals baseball GM Branch Rickey. One of the deals he did was trade Dizzy Dean to the Cubs -- Rickey thought Dean's injury problems were going to be an issue. The Cubs were his greatest rival, and Dean had a good first year in Chicago. I'm sure Rickey caught hell for that. Then Dean fell off a cliff. So Rickey acquired Cubs prospects for a guy who had one good year left in him. The Packers were smart to move on from Cobb in my opinion. Maybe Cobb would be their second-best receiver, but would he really have made any difference? I doubt it. They needed to get Valdes-Scantling and Allison on the field. Now, both those guys have had disappointing seasons, but the Packers had to get them on the field to find out. And Allison did have a big catch last week. We all have our opinions on this, and I'm sure plenty of people agree with you that they should have kept Cobb. But I think they did what they had to do. His health was too precarious, and he'd lost explosiveness. That's my take.
I really thought Tonyan would do more than he has this year, that he'd improve a lot as the season went on and maybe even be the starter by now. He's 25, so there's still time/room for improvement, but the clock is ticking now. Hard to know with Sternberger, he missed a couple weeks of camp and then the first half of the season. He blocks better than I would have guessed based on the scouting reports on him coming out of college. So that's a good sign. Tight ends generally don't contribute much as rookies, so he could make a nice jump next year. I'm sure he has some ability, he's a third-round pick. But I really don't have anything insightful to add, I just have no idea whether he's going to be good. I could still see them drafting a TE high next year, or signing one in free agency, put it that way.
The things I think about for GB to win are the OL having an exceptional game, with Bulaga and Bakhtiari preventing Bosa and Ford from blowing up the passing game; Rodgers making a couple special plays; and/or maybe Garoppolo throwing an INT or two. Garoppolo had a really good game in the first meeting but has his moments where he makes bad decisions -- in the first Seattle-SF game this year, the Seahawks dropped three or four INTs down the stretch, and I remember reading early in camp that Garoppolo threw five INTS in team drills in one practice. So he could hit a rough stretch. The 49ers' run game is really good too, the Packers will have to stop the run (or at last limit the damage) better than they have most of the season. I'd think at least a couple of those four things would have to happen for the Packers to win.
He definitely has shorter practices -- his camp practices on average were about 15 minutes shorter than McCarthy's. And in-season it sounds like part or most of his Wednesday practices as the season went on were walk-throughs, as well as a couple periods on Fridays. So there's a decent or even good chance that's contributed to the good health. The downside of that is fewer reps in practice, but health is so important in the NFL that it's probably worth it. Luck is a factor too, we can't discount that.
I just checked on Twitter from the reporters who were at practice, and it sounds like Lazzard was working off to the side today. That's probably not the worst sign, at least he can do something on the field even if it's not practicing with the team. I don't have any feel for what they're going to do with Greene. He's missed so much football being out the last for months it would be tough to throw him in there in any significant role, but you never know what they're thinking or what they see on the practice field. It's basically impossible to pick the X factor guy. Nobody has done anything with any consistency other than Adams and Lazard to a much lesser degree. From what I see, it's just a week to week thing. They just need somebody, whether it's Lazard or Allison or Valdes-Scantling or Graham or Tonyan to make a couple plays to go with Adams and Jones. Guessing which one it might be seems impossible to me.
That is why the 49ers have been the best team overall in the NFC. That and Garoppolo is a decent QB.
Favre, Butler, Rodgers, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Woodson, Tramon Williams. All smart and interesting. Lang too. I don't talk to Bakhtiari much but he seems pretty interesting too.
That's right, Tonyan went to Indiana State as a QB. Thanks Ralph.
He played less and they blitzed less. A few things broke his way last year. But I have to admit, he's a better play than I thought, he's found a role in the league.
They do it so they don't have plays happen like when Alexander gave up a long TD to Cooper when the Packers were up a couple scores late in the game against Dallas. But we all get your point, it often fails.
OK, this has to be the last question, several press conferences I have to get to, lots of activity out here at Lambeau today. One reason might be teams are matching up DBs with him instead of LBs, so the matchup isn't as good. But that still has to help with matchups elsewhere. From what I've seen -- I don't have numbers to back it up -- they've been splitting Jones out the same as always but they haven't been throwing it to him in those situations as much as in the middle of the season. Maybe because he's being covered by DBs. And with that we'll call it another chat. Thanks all for coming by and sharing your interesting thoughts and questions. Enjoyable chatting with you as always. Thanks especially to our subscribers, who make all our coverage possible, and remember if you're not a subscriber you can get the Packers News app for $4.99 a month, it's a really good deal. We'll chat again next week regardless of Sunday's outcome. Until then, take care everyone and enjoy the game.