Packers are a team unseen by the 49ers
BY NANCY ARMOUR Associated Press
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 5:44 AM
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The San Francisco 49ers can toss their film from the season opener against Green Bay in the trash.
Cedric Benson is gone, and the Packers' running game is now powered by DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant - neither of whom was on the roster in September.
Randall Cobb, who returned a punt 75 yards in the 30-22 loss to San Francisco, is now one of Aaron Rodgers' favorite receivers.
And a defense that was filled with newcomers is now a savvy, stingy bunch of veterans.
"A lot's happened," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We're a different football team. We're a different football team than we were four weeks ago."
The Packers (12-5) play San Francisco (11-4-1) Saturday night in an NFC divisional game after beating Minnesota in the wild-card round. The 49ers are early 3-point favorites.
The biggest difference the 49ers might see is in the running game. Green Bay managed a measly 45 yards on the ground in the opener, and Rodgers and Benson were the only two ball carriers. Rodgers, not Benson, led the Packers.
"I don't think we had our identity at that point," Rodgers said. "We were trying a lot of different things."
It took the pint-sized Harris to bring Green Bay's offense into balance, a speedy and elusive back whose surprising power gives defenses fits.
"He's an instinctive runner," offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. "So more often than not, you just let him run."
Green Bay finished the regular season with 47 sacks, fourth-best in the NFL, and had three more Saturday night. It limited Minnesota to 10 points, the eighth time in the last 11 games the Packers have allowed 20 points or fewer.
"We've established our brand of football and that's what we're taking to San Francisco," McCarthy said.