Saturday’s Divisional Playoff matchup between the 49ers and Packers will be a rematch from the teams’ Week 3 thriller earlier this year.
San Francisco lost that game thanks to a final minute drive by Green Bay, when Aaron Rodgers took the Packers 42 yards in 37 seconds to set-up the game winning field goal. The game was lost long before that according to former 49ers defensive back Donte Whitner, who said that defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans needs to make tweaks to the defense that hurt the team in the first quarter of that game.
“DeMeco Ryans early in that Week 3 game there were so many times where they gave obvious looks to Aaron Rodgers and bailed him out,” Whitner said on Murph & Mac Friday morning. “Didn’t make him work post-snap. What I’m telling these safeties, corners and nickels are Aaron Rodgers isn’t just getting a read off these safeties, he’s getting a read off of everybody. He’s been studying your mannerisms. He knows when the nickel is inside leverage and the safety is showing down opposite, that is BS.
“Stop showing the opposite rotation pre-snap, he understands your tendencies. Just stand there. Safeties with depth and width at the safety position, corners stay four yards, nickels play with your leverage, Aaron Rodgers can’t figure it out. If you move around and think you are deceiving him, you’re just giving him tips and tendencies that he figures out on film.
“He’s going to snap the ball when there is 3-6 seconds on the clock because he wants to get as much information from the defense so he can figure out how to get the ball quickly out of his hand. If you don’t let him do that pre-snap like they did many times in the first quarter — not even the first half, the first game, but the first quarter — if they just just play half better than they did in the first quarter, they win that game.”
Rodgers picked the 49ers apart early in that game, giving the Packers a 17-0 lead in the first half. Rodgers finished the game going 22-for-33 with two touchdowns and a 113.3 QB rating.
It was the final play that was a real debacle according to Whitner.
“Then when we talk about the last play of the game, they had (Talanoa) Hufanga and they had Deommodore Lenoir to one side,” Whitner continued. “They had a man-under, two-deep on, which means all defensive backs are playing inside leverage on the DBs, they are taking away all the inside routes, and they are reading the wide receiver’s hips as he’s running the field to take away the inside and outside breaking routes, safeties high over the top of the field.
“Can you tell me why everybody out their on defense was playing their responsibility except for the two rookies on the left side? These guys in Week 3 of their rookie years, the Packers just found their weakness in that coverage. If you have a veteran corner there the 49ers win that game.”
(Timestamped video below)
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Murph & Mac weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.