EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Lambeau Field.
Matchup No. 3: Anthony Davis vs. Nick Perry
Matchup No. 2: Vernon Davis vs. Charles Woodson
Tale of the tape
Aldon Smith: 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Justin Smith: 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Marshall Newhouse: 6-foot-4, 319 pounds, third season, Texas ChristianAldon Smith is set to make his first NFL start at outside linebacker.But it remains to be seen if he'll play all that much outside linebacker Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.The Packers figure to spread out their offense with multi-receiver formations and then go with mostly a no-huddle offense. That means the 49ers could spend almost all of Sunday's game with their nickel defense on the field.
And that means Smith is likely to play more defensive end. The 49ers play a four-man line when they have extra defensive backs on the field.The weak link of the Packers offensive line is left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Either way, he'll be going up against a Smith. If the 49ers are in their base defense, Newhouse will line up against Justin Smith. If the 49ers are in nickel, Newhouse will have to contend with Aldon Smith, who led all rookies last season with 14 sacks.Green Bay must come up with a plan against the Smiths. The 49ers' best hope for slowing down the Packers on Sunday will be for Aldon Smith and Justin Smith to get some hits on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and disrupt the offense's timing.
Newhouse, a third-year pro from TCU, probably will not be able to handle either Aldon or Justin Smith straight up. Newhouse, who started 13 games for the Packers last season, has good feet but he does not possess great upper-body strength. The Packers are likely to use running back Cedric Benson to help out."He's improved this preseason from last season," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Newhouse. "They give their guys a lot of help, too. In particular, their back. They do a lot of chipping. But their offensive line, their tackles, are young guys that have played well for them, and we'll see if we're up to the challenge."On run downs, Justin Smith should be able to use his strength to clog things up. He was the 49ers team MVP last season. How in the world can he possibly improve over what he did last season when he was named All-Pro at defensive tackle and defensive end?"Anticipation of what the offense is trying to throw at you," Justin Smith said. "It's more film study not just watching it but understanding why they're doing it, and down and distance all those tendencies."Smith has been pouring over Packers film off and on since the schedule was released in mid-April, and he knew a road trip to Green Bay was the next game on the schedule."We've been watching it for a while now," he said. "We know they're going to give us some wrinkles. They do a good job of self-scouting as well. We're pretty much get prepared for them and go from there."