49ers expect different Packers team in NFC title game

Mon Jan 13 7:12pm ET
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Pro Football Writer

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) intercepts a pass in front of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins as 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97), left, moves in during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers celebrates as he walks off the field after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers won 28-23 to advance to the NFC Championship. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) smiles as he rests on the bench with defensive end Nick Bosa (97) and defensive end Dee Ford (55) during the second half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) When Aaron Rodgers greeted Jimmy Garoppolo following the least productive start of his sterling career he had a simple message for the San Francisco 49ers quarterback: ''We'll see you later on.''

Less than two months after that lopsided loss, the Green Bay Packers quarterback has proven prophetic. For the eighth time in the past 25 seasons Green Bay and San Francisco are squaring off in the postseason, this time with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line.

''We know it will be different,'' 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. ''That game got away from them early. That's definitely not the team we'll see this week. Everyone knows how good Green Bay is, how good their coaching staff is, how good their players are, how good their quarterback is. ... That game really holds zero relevance to what's going to happen this Sunday.''

The Packers (14-3) looked nothing like a Super Bowl contender back on Nov. 24 when they were completely overwhelmed by the 49ers (14-3) from the start. Rodgers was strip-sacked by Fred Warner on the opening drive and Nick Bosa returned the fumble to the 2, setting up Tevin Coleman's TD run.

The Niners added a couple of field goals and got a fourth-down stop against Aaron Jones before breaking that game open at the end of the first half with a 42-yard TD pass from Garoppolo to Deebo Samuel and a third field goal from Chase McLaughlin in the final 65 seconds of the half to make it 23-0.

Rodgers threw a TD pass in the third quarter to Davante Adams only to have the Niners answer two plays later on a 61-yard pass to George Kittle, and the rout was on. The 37-8 final was the second-most lopsided loss in Rodgers' career in a game he didn't get injured.

''I think there's a lot to learn,'' coach Matt LaFleur said. ''First of all, I mean, that's a really good football team. We know we are going to have to be at our absolute best in order to compete with them and you know, I think unfortunately last time for whatever reason, we weren't.''

Rodgers finished the game 20 for 33 for 104 yards and had a career-low with only 3.15 yards per attempt. He was also sacked five times for 38 yards, with right tackle Bryan Bulaga leaving early in the first quarter with a knee injury. The 1.9 net yards per pass play were the lowest for the Packers since 1991, the year before Brett Favre arrived.

''We've got to play a lot better obviously,'' Rodgers said. ''They're a great football team, have a great front, obviously get after the passer and don't need to rush a lot of guys to do that. (They have an) excellent pass rush, really good on the back end, smart.''

The Packers haven't lost since, winning the final five games of the regular season and then the playoff opener over Seattle 28-23 on Sunday to set up the rematch. San Francisco beat Minnesota 27-10 on Saturday.

Green Bay should have Bulaga back even though he missed Sunday's game with an illness. The Niners also are healthier with edge rusher Dee Ford, left tackle Joe Staley, linebacker Kwon Alexander and running back Matt Brieda all back after missing that game.

But regular-season blowouts don't always repeat when the teams meet again in the playoffs. There have been 23 times in the Super Bowl era, excluding one replacement player game in 1987, that a team lost a regular-season game by at least 28 points to a team it met again in the playoffs.

In nine of those cases, the team that got blown out earlier in the season came back to win in the playoffs, and in six other games the team lost by a touchdown or less.

Shanahan said he doesn't believe his players will be complacent because of the lopsided win two months ago but has a message for them if they do.

''Don't be that stupid because that's not real,'' he said. ''This is about Sunday's game. I can give a thousand stories of things like that, playing games in my history I've been a part of.''

No match-up has occurred as frequently in the past quarter-century, with the eighth meeting this week putting Green Bay-San Francisco three games ahead of any other rivalry. In fact, the only teams to play more than eight times in the postseason in the Super Bowl era are the Rams and Cowboys, who met for the ninth time last January.

The Packers have won four of those previous seven meetings, going 4-1 with Favre at quarterback and losing both times with Rodgers as starter in the 2012-13 seasons when he was outdueled by Colin Kaepernick.

Player Notes
Anthony Harris Mar 31 10:00pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Mar 31 9:50pm ET

Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was non-committal on whether the Broncos would entertain signing running back Phillip Lindsay to a long-term contract extension. Lindsay has been playing for a bargain rate the last two seasons after going undrafted, but not the Broncos had Melvin Gordon III in the backfield as well after they landed him in free agency. In comparison, Gordon is the sixth-highest paid running back in the league. Lindsay, 26 in July, came out of nowhere in his rookie season and made the Pro Bowl, and he's rushed for over 1,000 yards in both of his two seasons. But with Gordon now in tow, Lindsay won't see as many touches, especially in the passing game. It's clear the Broncos don't see him as a three-down back in this league, but they could still keep him around long-term if they can agree on something that compensates him fairly. Fantasy-wise, Lindsay will likely become a low-ceiling RB3/flex in standard-scoring formats while sharing touches with Gordon and Royce Freeman.

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David Fales Mar 31 5:40pm ET

The New York Jets re-signed backup quarterback David Fales to an undisclosed one-year deal on Tuesday, according to a source. Fales was Sam Darnold's backup for most of last season and will continue to fill that role after playing for head coach Adam Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in both Chicago and Miami. Since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Bears, the 29-year-old has played in parts of just five games and has never started a game. He'll continue to hold the clipboard for Darnold in New York and will have zero fantasy appeal.

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Dwayne Haskins Mar 31 4:30pm ET

Washington Redskins three-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Scherff is signing his $15-plus million franchise tender on Tuesday, according to a source. If there is a training camp, he will be required to be there. Scherff, 28, has missed most of the past two seasons due to injuries -- 19 games played over that span -- but he is one of the better offensive guards in the NFL when he's on the field. Locking him up long-term is next on the agenda for Washington, and his services will be needed on the offensive line with young quarterback Dwayne Haskins under center.

From RotoBaller

Desmond King Mar 31 4:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said that general manager Tom Telesco, head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive backs coach Ron Milus told him that he will be playing the slot in 2020. "That was the main thing that they brought to me," Harris said. The 30-year-old was asked to cover the opponent's best receiver in his final year in Denver, and he notably struggled after making the Pro Bowl four times (All-Pro in 2016) since 2014. There's no denying that Harris is the most comfortable in the slot, and he could rebound in an all-around sold Chargers Defense in his first season with the Bolts. How Harris' presence affects Desmond King remains to be seen, but this secondary might be one of the best in the NFL on paper.

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Adam Vinatieri Mar 31 4:20pm ET

The future of kicker Adam Vinatieri remains unknown, according to Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich. Vinatieri has not made a decision on whether he wants to return to kick for a 25th season in the NFL. The 47-year-old future Hall of Famer has been rehabbing his knee following season-ending surgery last year, and the Colts are waiting for his rehab to progress before making a decision on whether they want to re-sign him. The Colts already have Chase McLaughlin on roster, so it will be a tough decision if Vinatieri wants to come back and kick, especially since he wasn't performing up to his standards before he was placed on Injured Reserve. He missed 14 kicks -- eight field goals and six extra points. If Vinatieri returns to the Colts or another team, he won't be worth drafting in most standard fantasy leagues.

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DeAndre Hopkins Mar 31 4:20pm ET

Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell said that general manager Steve Keim has had talks with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins about his contract. Hopkins was unhappy with his contract in Houston, which is one of the reasons he was dealt to Arizona for pennies on the dollar. The All-Pro wideout will be a bargain at his current salaries for the next three seasons, but the two sides might negotiate something and reach a middle ground eventually. Money aside, the Cardinals got one of the best receivers in the game, and he should make quarterback Kyler Murray even more desirable in fantasy in 2020 and beyond. Hopkins makes a case to be the first receiver off the board in fantasy drafts.

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Ed Dickson Mar 31 4:10pm ET

The Seattle Seahawks released tight end Ed Dickson on Tuesday, according to a source. Dickson was due $3 million in 2020, and the Seahawks will save most of that money with his release. The 32-year-old veteran played in just 10 games (one start) in his only season in Seattle, catching 12 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He has had trouble staying healthy in recent seasons and will be, at best, a depth option for another team on the open market. Dickson's release was expected after the team signed Greg Olsen in free agency. They also have Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister returning.

From RotoBaller

Jadeveon Clowney Mar 31 4:10pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Deshaun Watson Mar 31 1:00pm ET

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Yannick Ngakoue Mar 31 12:40pm ET

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Tyrod Taylor Mar 31 12:30pm ET

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Tom Brady Mar 31 12:20pm ET

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James Conner Mar 31 12:20pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to draft a running back this year with James Conner headed into his contract season. The Athletic's Ed Bouchette doesn't think that the Steelers will give Conner a new deal before the start of the 2020 season, so he'll have to prove his worth and stay healthy to remain with the organization beyond the upcoming season. The 24-year-old has RB1 potential when he's on the field, but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy consistently since he took over the lead-back role from Le'Veon Bell. Conner played in just 10 games in 2019, rushing 116 times for 464 yards (career-low 4.0 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He could bounce back with better health and a full season with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center, but fantasy owners will take more caution when drafting Conner as more of an RB2 this year.

From RotoBaller

Dre Kirkpatrick Mar 31 9:53am ET

Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick was released Tuesday, March 31.

From TheHuddle

Yannick Ngakoue Mar 31 9:33am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue has had several teams inquire about landing him, but the team values him and won't give him away.

Fantasy Spin: Ngakoue had a "down" season with 41 total tackles and eight sacks. However, his six passes defended, one pick, four forced fumbles and one recovery kept him as a midrange DL1. He should be drafted as such in 2020 regardless of where he plays.

From TheHuddle

Russell Wilson Mar 31 12:03am ET

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was blitzed 221 times - second-most in the league - and hurried an NFL-high 71 times in 2019.

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Isaiah McKenzie Mar 30 10:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie officially signed an undisclosed contract with the team Monday, March 30.

From TheHuddle