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Packers vs. 49ers: Performances to watch

Green Bay has trends to change from first matchup

49ers TE George Kittle
49ers TE George Kittle

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The Super Bowl is one win away for both the Packers and 49ers.

Here are five things to watch.

1. Game-breaker: The best tight end in the game, George Kittle, couldn't have been more efficient against the Packers in Week 12: six targets, six receptions, 129 yards. The Packers had just scored for the first time in the game when two snaps later, Kittle got loose for a 61-yard touchdown that turned it into a blowout. Kittle was held in check by the Vikings in last week's playoff game (three catches, 16 yards), but it appeared to be at the expense of Minnesota's run defense, which couldn't hold up. Do the Packers have an answer for Kittle that won't compromise the defense elsewhere?

2. Tale of the turnover: The Packers gave the 49ers an easy touchdown in the first game with an early fumble that San Francisco recovered at the Green Bay 2-yard line and punched in for a quick touchdown. Meanwhile, Green Bay missed an opportunity for a fumble recovery early on that could have mitigated the ugly start. For the season, the Packers had the better turnover margin, plus-12 to the 49ers' plus-4. One miscue either way could be significant.

3. Sack masters: This might be the best collection of pass rushers on the same field in any postseason game. Green Bay's trio of Za'Darius Smith (13½) and Preston Smith (12), plus Kenny Clark (6), combined for 31½ sacks in the regular season. San Francisco's quartet of Arik Armstead (10), Nick Bosa (9), DeForest Buckner (7½) and Dee Ford (6½) combined for 33. Then last week in the divisional playoffs, each group combined for five more sacks apiece, 10 of the 11 their teams recorded in the victories. Which group has the better game could be a deciding factor.

4. Unexpected scores: Neither team has returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown this season, but defensive scores have been another matter. The Packers haven't brought back a fumble or interception for a TD, but the 49ers have done so five times (three INTs, two fumbles). Are the Packers due?

5. Playoff performers: With his eight-catch, 160-yard, two-TD outing vs. Seattle, Davante Adams put himself in some prominent places in the Packers' postseason record book through just seven career playoff games (tied for second in TDs with six, tied for first in 100-yard games with three). On the other side of the ball, Tramon Williams has four career postseason interceptions, one off the team record.