GREEN BAY – As the Packers look to wrap up their pre-bye schedule above .500, they’re playing their fourth home game in six weeks, before hitting the road for four of the next five contests.
Here’s what to watch for against San Francisco.
1. Turn the tide with turnovers: The Packers are minus-two in turnover margin through five games, and it’s a big reason they’re 2-2-1. The most successful teams of the Mike McCarthy era have owned the category, and Green Bay has to get back to that formula. San Francisco QB C.J. Beathard has ball-security issues, throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo, and the 49ers’ defense has just three takeaways total, putting their team at minus-eight on the year. If there’s a game for the worm to turn, this is it.
2. Out of the gate: The Packers have not scored any points on their first offensive possession yet this season. That’s another uncharacteristic stat in the McCarthy-Aaron Rodgers era, and it has factored into Green Bay trailing at halftime by three or more scores in three of five games. The defense has gotten a first-possession stop in each of the last two games after allowing first-drive TDs in two of the first three weeks. A strong start on both sides of the ball would go a long way.
3. The Iowa connection: Tight end George Kittle is San Francisco’s leading receiver by a longshot, with 399 yards (next is Pierre Garcon with 188). Kittle’s college QB at Iowa? Beathard. Kittle was quickly becoming a favorite target of Garoppolo’s before his injury, and his value to Beathard is enormous in this offense.
4. Old nemesis: Former Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman is now with San Francisco, and he’s still playing at a high level despite coming back from an Achilles injury suffered in 2017. He’s never regularly traveled with an opposing team’s top target, playing mostly on one side with the Seahawks. Either way, anytime he’s matched up against leading Packers receiver Davante Adams it promises to be a good battle.
5. Back in the saddle: Packers kicker Mason Crosby had the worst game of his life last week. As Head Coach Mike McCarthy said, he didn’t “hit a bump in the road, he hit a boulder.” He’s never lost the confidence of his coach or his teammates, and it’s because of how Crosby goes about his job – professionally and diligently. If anyone can bounce back in one short week from five missed kicks, it’s Crosby.