When it comes to his “don’t be stupid” message regarding the irrelevance of November’s 37-8 thrashing of the Packers to Sunday’s rematch, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has a very smart way of getting the team’s attention: By focusing on the skills of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“There’s probably not anyone on the planet who throws better than him,” Shanahan told reporters on Wednesday. “There might be a couple guys that you can compare with him, but his arm talent is just unbelievable, his athletic ability is unbelievable. He’s always been able to run around, extend plays, make throws from any angle and he’s a very intelligent guy who can get them in the right play and it’s hard to throw stuff at him that he’s not prepared for.”
It’s far from Lou Holtzian they-put-their-pants-on-same-way-we-do bluster. Shanahan knows what he’s facing, and he knows he needs to get his players to expunge the memory of the Week 12 win out of their brains.
“[H]e can make a throw in any situation,” Shanahan said of Rodgers. “He’s never out of the game. I think we were up 23-0 at halftime versus him and he made it 23-8 after his first drive [of the second half]. It’s 23-8 halfway through the third quarter, and I think it’s a tight game because of who is over there at quarterback. We were fortunate enough, I think, the next drive to get the big play to Kittle which made it 30-8 and then it kind of got away, but Aaron is as good of a player who has played this game, he can make every single throw. He’s got a lot of players around him and there’s a reason he seems to be in this game a lot.”
So how hard will it really be to get his players to heed the Aaron Rodgers red-flag warning?
“It’s not too hard because the guys will see tape on them from the whole year,” Shanahan said. “And even if you go back and watch our game, that was much more competitive than the score looked. You get 38 points and things like that, but you go to some of the turnovers that happened, some big plays, but it was a lot harder of a game than it seemed and all the other games that you watch on tape, it looks like you’re playing a really good team and it looks like you’re playing a team that has the record that they do.”
He’s right. While plenty of fans and media assume that Bloodbath Part II is coming, the 49ers realize that the Packers are dangerous. Rodgers, fully aware of his football mortality and fully in possession of his legendary capabilities, rose to the occasion last week. Do we think he won’t do the same thing as he returns to the vicinity of his upbringing to face the team he grew up rooting for?