Although he won’t be starting under center Saturday, 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance still will have an important task at practice this week.
Be Aaron Rodgers.
Lance will do his best Rodgers impression as San Francisco’s scout-team quarterback, helping the talented 49ers defense prepare to face the MVP candidate and the Packers offense.
“We need Trey to be very aggressive, let it rip,” coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Tuesday. “Hopefully if he does make some mistakes in practice, our defense will catch it and make him pay. But we need him to be aggressive in everything he does because Aaron doesn't miss many of those opportunities when they're presented to him.”
Rodgers, the 2020 NFL MVP, is the leading candidate to win the award in back-to-back years after guiding Green Bay to 13 wins and the NFC’s top seed. In 16 games, Rodgers threw for 4,115 yards and 37 touchdowns while completing 68.9 percent of his passes. He also posted the league’s top passer rating (111.9) and lowest interception clip (0.8 percent).
“Aaron does a real good job of not making bad decisions and not turning the ball over,” Shanahan said. “But he also makes all the plays down the field wherever you're off just a hair.”
During San Francisco’s 30-28 loss to the Packers in Week 3, Rodgers threw for 261 yards and two scores. He conducted a six-play, 42-yard drive in the contest’s final 37 seconds to set up kicker Mason Crosby’s game-winning 51-yard field goal.
In his final seven games of the season, Rodgers threw for 1,929 yards, 20 touchdown passes and wasn't intercepted -- good for a 124.4 passer rating. San Francisco’s defense isn’t quite expecting Lance to live up to Rodgers’ All-Pro talent level in practice.
“It’d be a tall task to tell Trey to go be Aaron Rodgers for three days before we head out there,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “I know Trey has been doing an outstanding job this year, and I know he’ll continue to do a great job this week.
“It’s one of those situations where you don’t really feel Aaron Rodgers until you’re out there against the man himself. You can watch all the tape you want, think you’ve got him figured out. But you’ve got into the game and get into the flow of things to really get things going.”
San Francisco has gotten the best of Rodgers and the Packers in their last three postseason meetings. In the 2020 NFC Championship Game, Rodgers threw for 326 yards and two scores but gifted the 49ers with two interceptions.
Shanahan isn’t taking much into account from past clashes against Rodgers.
“Every game is its own game and each year and each situation, each team is different,” Shanahan said. “… Everyone knows Aaron’s the man. But this doesn't have to do with the last time we met in the playoffs and it doesn't have to do with our game earlier this year. It's one game, it's going to be on Saturday, it's three-and-a-half hours and it's this team right now versus their team.
“It's going to be as simple as that.”