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Inbox: He's always been that guy

The Packers are two wins away from the ultimate goal

WR Davante Adams
WR Davante Adams

Mike from Richmond, VA

To steal from our past, "This is nothing but smash-mouth football" and "It is time." Who do you see bringing that edge to set the tone in this game?

Za'Darius Smith. This defense – and team – goes as he goes. Good morning!

Rick from Selinsgrove, PA

Hey Insiders, love the work you do! Was listening to Aaron Rodgers' presser, and when asked if he felt the team was being snubbed, he replied: "As one who has received some (personal) awards, I would gladly trade them for a few more wins." I hope the rest of the team was listening. That's our QB! Go Pack Go!

I think it's an important message both Rodgers and Smith sent to the locker room this week. You can use that as motivation but the time for awards is over. Now, it's about winning a championship and the Packers are two wins away from the ultimate goal.

Gary from Jimappolo, Greece

Which defensive player has the best chance at scoring a TD this week? Adrian Amos with a pick-six or Z with a strip-sack?

A touchdown is pretty much the only thing missing from Smith's resume this season.

Nick from Oquawka, IL

Are you guys enjoying watching Davante Adams come out of his shell as much as I am?

Maybe this perception is out there because there are more eyeballs and cameras on him now, but he's always been that guy. Ask Spoff and I'm sure he'll say the same thing. I'll never forget how Adams interacted with the media after a troublesome 2015 season. He was just as approachable, talkative and confident then as he is now. If you took his first interview with the media in the 2016 offseason program and this past summer, and put them both on mute, you wouldn't know which one was which based on his mannerisms. I think that's a sign of a true superstar. He knows what he can do.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

A ton of 49ers fans are claiming that Adams won't have a big game this week because Richard Sherman will shut him down one-on-one. I know Sherman is pretty good, but I'm confident that Adams will win a fair share of snaps if that happens. After all, last year his footwork was so good he made Darius Slay fall backward.

Sherman hasn't traveled much throughout his career. He's typically just played one side but we'll see which direction Robert Saleh chooses to go. Adams is ready for everything. He's going in expecting to be double-teamed and shadowed. I'm sure he'd embrace the challenge of working against Sherman for 60 minutes if that's what the situation calls for.

Tom from Iron River, WI

What was the main reason for the Packers' turnaround season? Coach LaFleur, personnel moves, Rodgers' play, or all of the above?

All of the above but you know what ties this all together – from Mark Murphy to Brian Gutekunst to Matt LaFleur to the coaching staff to the locker room? Commitment and purpose. It takes talent to win games. It takes continuity and drive to win it all. This team has it all.

Ed from Henryville, IN

I know that it really doesn't mean anything but the Seahawks beat the 49ers once in the regular season and almost got them a second time. We beat the Seahawks, and as much as I know that makes no difference it gives me even more belief that our guys can do it. We are just as good as the 49ers. I actually think we're better. We've won a lot of close games in the fourth quarter whereas the 49ers aren't as battle-tested in the fourth. You think that can make a difference?

I don't know how much the Packers have or haven't leaned on all of those close wins down the stretch, but I feel like there's going to be a moment in this game – and possibly the next – where that experience is going to make a huge difference. Is this the most talented Packers team I've covered? Probably not. But it is the most battle-tested. Without a doubt.

Laura from Arlington, VA

Focus on run or pass against the 49ers?

The beautiful thing about the way the 49ers play is how they marry those two things together. If you force me to pick one, I'd say focus on the run. Yes, Arizona did that and still lost but everything starts for San Francisco on the ground. You're in for a long afternoon if you can't contain the run.

Clay from Waukegan, IL

Can you say U*P*S*E*T? Packers win by (1) with a Mason Crosby field goal. Go Pack Go!

Death. Taxes. Crosby and Robbie Gould kicking in high-stakes January football games.

Tim from Upland, CA

Nine years ago, Tramon Williams had two picks (one a pick-six) against the "best" team in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons. Do you think the ageless wonder has another two picks in him against this year's "best" team?

I can tell you this much – the moment won't be too big for him. As I wrote about this week, Tramon Williams cherishes these moments because he knows how rare they can be. It's sobering how many All-Pros and Pro Bowlers from Williams' rookie class have long since retired. And yet, the ageless cornerback marches on.

Nick from Boston, MA

How do you think the Packers will try and stop the run vs. the 49ers? I really think that is the key to keeping this game close and potentially making Jimmy throw a little bit more than they would like and giving us a chance at some picks. They have three really talented backs that stay fresh and are explosive.

Discipline. Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida hung 182 rushing yards on Minnesota last week because they wore the Vikings down for 60 minutes. None of those three had a carry longer than 11 yards but they kept moving the chains. This game will be won on first down.

Carl from Chicopee, MA

It was mentioned that if it wasn't for Russell Wilson running around in the backfield the Packers could have had 10 or more sacks. Compare our D-line with San Fran's O-line. If San Fran is constantly in long-yardage downs because of sacks, that would play to our advantage.

I think this game will play out much differently in the trenches than the first encounter. Not only is Mike Pettine using Za'Darius and Preston Smith a little differently, but San Francisco also has had some injuries on the offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was placed on IR a month ago.

Richard from Menasha, WI

How likely is it the Packers move the pocket for Aaron Rodgers so the 49ers' pass rush has more to think about?

I could see it. This isn't the type of defense you want to live in the middle of the field against as a quarterback, running back or receiver. The 49ers are as fast as they are strong, but play-action could definitely factor into this game.

Allen from Birmingham, AL

San Francisco is a 7½-point favorite? In a great response, former Coach McCarthy snapped, "We're *nobody's* underdog!" Go Pack Go!

This Packers locker room is embracing the underdog role this week. Matt LaFleur, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams all mentioned how the pressure is on the 49ers this week. Green Bay has nothing to lose.

Pete from Chippewa Falls, WI

Can the Packers win on Sunday without SF turning the ball over?

I think it's possible but the job gets a lot harder. That Week 12 game against Green Bay was one of only five times this year Jimmy Garoppolo didn't have a turnover. San Francisco hasn't lost this year when it doesn't turn over the ball.

Fede from Verona, Italy

Matt is probably busy studying the 49ers' losses against the Seahawks, Ravens and Falcons. In your opinion, what are the weaknesses that these losses have revealed? What are the lessons the Packers can learn from them?

You have to generate points off takeaways, take away their run game and get the ball outside. The screen game is your friend and can be useful depending on how the 49ers deploy their pass rushers.

The Green Bay Packers practiced inside the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

Sara from St. Paul, MN

Can you explain the morning routine for players before a game? I found it fascinating Jared Veldheer was at home when he heard Bryan Bulaga was sick. I just assumed that all the players had to report at the same time. Amazing story!

The team stays at a local hotel the night before games but players are free to go about their daily routines until it's time to report to the stadium. That story still made me smile, though.

Rick from Evergreen, CO

It behooves me to ask, the players on the team who kind of know they won't play, how do they keep up their pursuit of dreams? Standing and watching has to be hard. I know, I did it in high school. Thanks for all you do!

Tell them Veldheer's story. Or the time John Crockett went from the practice squad to playing in an actual game on the very same day. You never know when your dream will be in front of you. You better be ready for it.

Adam from Wausau, WI

I think the NFL needs to tell the refs to let turnover plays play out before it costs a team a win in the playoffs. If they would've just let the fumble play out in the Packers game, 1. Someone would get a clear recovery, and 2. There would've been no reason for a lost challenge/timeout. After the automatic review, if the runner was down so be it, at least the right call will be made.

As I said Tuesday, there was no urgency to officiate that play. I found that disappointing. If we're going to use that "when in doubt…" rule of calling it a turnover until review proves otherwise, then swallow the whistle for another beat.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

What is the concept of a "rub route"?

It's a route designed for a receiver to run into or shield the defender working against another receiver. It's also commonly referred to as a "pick play."

Drew from Rogers City, MI

The Packers and 49ers share some rich playoff history. As a Packers fan the ringing of, "Owens, Owens, Owens!!" or the clip of Kaep running away with yet another Packers postseason makes it easy to hate this opponent. I can see them becoming our new nemesis for the foreseeable future...

The thing is the Packers and 49ers have been formidable rivals for the past 25 years. They've played each other seven times. With how these current teams are built, I have a feeling this won't be the last time Green Bay sees San Francisco in the playoffs the next few years.

Nate from Kewaskum, WI

When will the team fly to San Francisco?


Jeremy from De Soto, KS

Even Lego Davante Adams breaks ankles.

And how about that Za'Darius sack celebration? Those things crack me up.

Dan from Northfield, MN

Did Davante's third-quarter TD celebration bring back memories of Nick Collins' TD celebration?

I know it did for a lot of Packers fans.

Rob from Edinburgh, Scotland

On the subject of the yellow line controversy, I think anyone who still views the line as an accurate marker should go back and watch the Jags-Steelers game from 2017. On one of the Jags' many interceptions that day, the yellow line was at such an angle that it was a full three yards further forward on one sideline than it was on the other. I haven't put too much faith in the line since I saw that.

I was talking to some folks I know in the media and broadcast industry this week. Those aren't NFL officials in the back drawing those yellow lines on the field. It's Bob from production who's eye-balling the sticks and doing the best he can do to line everything up. Any argument in which a computer graphic is the core of the argument is not an argument. It's an excuse.

Jerr from Albany, NY

What are the chances of Luke Kuechly getting into the HOF? Even with his short career, five All-Pro selections are hard to ignore.

I'd vote for him, if I had a ballot. Patrick Willis, too. Middle linebacker is one of the game's most demanding positions, both mentally and physically. They were two of the best.

Tony from Chanhassen, MN

Can you imagine the fallout if the call had been changed after the additional footage? If the call had been overturned after already announcing the call would stand, I think the field may have been flooded with cheesehead merchandise. It would have been called cheesehead-gate.

It would not have been positive.

Kirsten from Madison, WI

Additional video has just come in, courtesy of Legos. After review, Jimmy Graham was clearly over the yellow line! Case closed!

Say what you want but that animation was just as credible.

Thomas from Wadsworth, IL

Will Bobby Dillon be added to the ring of honor inside Lambeau Field since he now is in the Hall of Fame?


Lucas from Carrboro, NC

With regards to the players that did not make the Pro Football Hall of Fame Centennial Class, do you feel that this was their last chance? Or do you feel that the senior committee will be making its choices off of this list for the next few years?

Not necessarily. It'd be my hope this lessens the logjam with the senior candidates and contributors. With Bill Cowher in, hopefully that means Mike Holmgren will be soon to follow.

Joey from Cheesequake, NJ

Insiders, do you think the limited challenges will be reviewed and expanded in some way, shape or form to enhance the integrity of the game?

I don't think so. The NFL wants to make the game shorter, not longer.

Dave from Edina, MN

I've been reading this column every day since Vic's first day on the job. Insider Inbox is noticeably longer than Ask Vic. On top of that, you two put out an insane amount of other content on this site. Now you're telling me I need to read the rest of the content on the site just to keep up with references made on II? There are only so many hours in the day!

I can tell you the columns will get much shorter this offseason but I want to be as detailed and thorough as possible with the Packers being in the Super Bowl hunt.

Dylan from Houston, TX

I just came across "Behind Enemy Lines" on the 49ers website and saw Wes contributed to a handful of questions leading up to the game. Is this a normal occurrence for you, as writers, to contribute to other teams' pieces, or is this more a function of it being the week leading up to the NFC Championship Game?

I'd say Spoff and I probably do like eight of those a year – whether it's a Q&A or an interview over the phone.

Darren from Kingston, Ontario

Wes, I've always watched "Unscripted" for the content. Now, I partly tune in each day to watch your opening salute. First it was your million-dollar smile and classic finger-point to the camera. More recently you evolved to your spontaneous "finger point-pump" move with Mike and now you're back to a traditional fist pump. Mike's reactions to your salute are becoming just as entertaining. We never know what you're going to do! Do you have something special cooked up for championship week?

I never think of anything beforehand unless our digital assistant Lexi Kinnard gives me an idea.

Josh from Houston, TX

Wes, there is no such thing as stomach flu. And the influenza vaccine that you got has nothing to do with protecting against the viral gastroenteritis that is going around the locker room. But I wholeheartedly agree with your routine of frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing. Have they put up alcohol hand sanitizer stations around the locker room?

They're all over the building. They always are, though.