Packers News: 49ers Compelled to Tension 'Mature' Love

Packers News: 49ers Compelled to Tension ‘Mature’ Love.

49ers Under Pressure to Pressure ‘Mature’ Love.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers have gone from 3-6 to one game away from playing for a trip to the Super Bowl. From the perspective of Saturday’s NFC divisional-round opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, one thing stands out in Green Bay’s turnaround.

“When you don’t turn it over, no matter what happens, you’ve got a chance to win in every game,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “The fact they’ve only had one pick in 10 games is unbelievable.”

Over the last nine games, Jordan Love has been on one heck of a roll with 22 touchdown passes, one interception and eight games with 108-plus passer rating. In his playoff debut, he trashed the Cowboys for three touchdowns and a near-perfect 157.3 rating in helping the Packers equal the most points scored by a road team in a playoff game in the Super Bowl era.

That sets up a heavyweight showdown between dynamic quarterback and dominant defense.

In his last 11 games, Love has averaged more than 7.2 yards per attempt in 10. In their last nine games, the 49ers have allowed less than 5.7 yards per attempt in seven.

“I think he’s real good,” 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks told reporters on Wednesday. “No. 1, he’s protecting the ball. He’s putting the ball where it needs to go. You think about a young guy like that and you forget that he played behind Aaron [Rodgers] for three years. So, he’s learned a lot.

Pressure is pretty high.

“He’s mature. You can see that on the field. Even when you think about, ‘OK, here’s a guy I’m going to go pressure,’ where his percentage rate against pressure is pretty high. So, he does a great job in getting rid of the ball.”

The 49ers will try to counter Green Bay’s high-flying passing game with a veteran-laden pass rush.

The 49ers don’t have a lot of sacks, mostly because opposing offenses focus on throwing the ball quickly to keep their quarterback out of harm’s way.

The Cowboys have a strong pass rush, too, but had zero sacks and three quarterback hits against Green Bay. The offensive line played a big role in that, but so did Love with his ability to move in the pocket.

Moving doesn’t always mean scrambling. Wilks mentioned Love’s touchdown pass to Dontayvion Wicks. The Cowboys brought six rushers but Love hung in the pocket, drifting back just a bit to give him the space to make the throw.

“That’s one of the things that Aaron was very effective with, drifting a little bit, buying time,” Wilks said. “(Love) has the arm strength to still get the ball down the field. You saw that with zero pressure against the Cowboys.

“We’ve got to do a great job on the back end of plastering, really latching on to their receivers. He’s going to do a great job buying time. He can do that with his feet. He’s not looking to run. His eyes are still down the field trying to be effective and get the ball thrown. So, that’s No. 1. Then, two, we’ve got to win up front. Our front four has got to do a great job in getting out to this quarterback.”

The key from Wilks’ perspective will be keeping Love in the pocket. With Nick Bosa and Chase Young rushing from the edge and Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave providing the interior push, they’ve got the tools to get it done, which is why they finished fourth in opponent passer rating and tied for first in interceptions.

“It is always a big emphasis if we can try to contain the quarterback and not allow him to be able to have that extra time,” Wilks said. “So, that’s something we’ve got to do a great job of upfront with our different stunts and line moves. We’ve got to do a great job containing this guy and really trying to get pressure and sack him.”

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