Niners pose unique challenges to Packers’ defense

The 49ers go into their season opener in Green Bay with a versatile offense, something wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Packers coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged during game preparations this week.

“I just feel like we’ve got our own style,” Crabtree said. “Those guys are a spread offense, that’s all they do is throw the ball. I mean, they’ve got some run game. But that’s their offense. We’re really not like that.”

Then Crabtree was asked to describe the 49ers’ offense and he couldn’t do it. And that’s exactly the goal. With the additions of receiving threats Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and the drafting of speedster A.J. Jenkins, the 49ers have more than enough to remedy their lack of big plays last season.

They only had six plays of over 40 yards in 2011, but with the possibility of being more wide open, the 49ers have an option that was missing last season.

However, they retain their ability to go big with the jumbo formation and pound the ball at the Packers’ undersized inside linebackers. Often during the preseason, the 49ers added 355-pound Leonard Davis as an extra blocker and then inserted 292-pound Will Tukuafu as a pile-driving lead blocker.

With offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s innovative style and coach Jim Harbaugh’s proclivity for the surprise, the Packers will have to prepare for all of it.

“They’ve definitely changed their personnel on the perimeter on offense,” McCarthy said. “How they go about it, we’ll prepare the best we can.”

That might be McCarthy’s way of saying he doesn’t know what the 49ers will do.

The Packers’ offense is more predictable, but no less potent. With MVP Aaron Rodgers at the helm, the 49ers, who finished last season ranked No. 1 in total defense, know they’ll have their hands full.

“He’d be really fun to watch,” Harbaugh said of Rodgers. “He’d be something to watch if you didn’t have to play against him. But just that. I think that sums it up in a pretty tidy box. I don’t know of anybody that’s ever played the quarterback position at the level he’s playing at now, and has been playing at. Just phenomenal, phenomenal.”

McCarthy said that teams hide 30 to 40 percent of their looks in the preseason. For the 49ers, that might be more because Harbaugh is highly protective of his schemes.

It leaves the Packers scrambling to prepare for the unexpected.

 

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