Many changes for the Packers-49ers, even the Matt LaFleur-Kyle Shanahan angle

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GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the Green Bay Packers played against the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs two years ago, one of the biggest story lines was the coaching relationship – almost a fraternity – between Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan.

It was LaFleur, the first-year Packers coach, against one of his mentors and close friends.

Two years later, when the two teams were to meet in Saturday night’s NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field (20:15 ET, Fox), they are history again.

But for a very different reason.

Watch the video of the postgame handshake from the Packers’ final second victory over the 49ers in Week 3.

Even before “The Handshake”, there was bad blood between the two, which originated from the 49ers’ race with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers last offseason. While both downplayed it before and after the match, few who came away were convinced that everything was peachy between the two. It will no doubt be a topic of conversation every week.

The coaching relationship is not the only thing that has changed at this matchup.

The Week 3 game – which the Packers won with two Rodgers-to-Davante Adams finishes and a 51-yard Mason Crosby walk-off field goal all in the last 37 seconds and without a timeout – was the start of the ugliest stretch of the 49ers season . It was the beginning of a three-match losing streak and five losses in six games.

But San Francisco has 8-2 in its last 10 games, including Sunday’s 23-16 disruption of the third-seeded Dallas Cowboys away in the wildcard round.

The two biggest differences in the 49ers since the Packers saw them in September. 26 is their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and their running game.

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander intercepted Garoppolo in Week 3, one of eight games this season in which he threw at least one interception. Garoppolo was 2-6 in those matches and 7-0 in matches without one. He was much more effective in the second half of the season. From Week 10 to the end of the regular season, Garoppolo was number seven in the NFL in Total QBR and number two in yards per game. care attempts.

The Packers also did not have to face 49ers leading rusher Elijah Mitchell, who missed the match due to a shoulder injury. The 49ers ran in just 67 yards on 21 carries. Mitchell, who led the 49ers in rushing with 963 yards in 11 games and came in 12th place in the NFL with a 4.7-yard average carry, rushed 96 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday. While the Packers ranked 11th in the NFL in rushing defense (109.1 yards per game), the 30th in rushing yards were allowed per game. carry (by giving up 4.7 yards per game).

This will be the fifth meeting between LaFleur and Shanahan since the start of the 2019 season. The previous four, including the playoffs, were all in the 49ers’. LaFleur lost both in the 2019 season – 37-8 in the regular season and 37-20 in the NFC Championship Game – but won in 2020 (34-17) and in the Week 3 match this season (30-28).

There is also the weather element. The weekend view for Saturday is a maximum temperature of 21 and a minimum of 3 degrees. The previous four meetings in Northern California had starting temperatures of 69, 78, 58 and 63 degrees.

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