49ers-Packers matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Dec. 01, 2010 @ 3:04 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Here’s a look at a key matchup heading into the Week 13 game between the Packers and 49ers at Lambeau Field.

49ers RBs Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon vs. Packers’ run defense

With star RB Frank Gore, who had been providing 40 percent of the Niners’ offense, out for the year with a fractured right hip, the Niners will be counting on Westbrook and Dixon to pick up the slack, which they both did very effectively in San Francisco’s convincing 27-6 win over Arizona this past Monday night.

Westbrook, an accomplished dual-threat star with the Eagles for eight years, took advantage of his fresh legs after not being used much while Gore was healthy to pick up 136 yards on 23 carries, which Niners head coach Mike Singletary later said was probably too many carries (Westbrook also had an eight-yard TD run). Considering Westbrook’s recent history of knee and concussions problems, look for roughly a 15-10 split in carries moving forward between Westbrook and Dixon, respectively, with Dixon likely to be counted on as the short-yardage specialist — a role he filled nicely against the Cardinals with a one-yard TD run.

At his best, Westbrook is a shifty runner with a decent burst and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Dixon, who was the league’s preseason rushing leader, is equally elusive, despite his bullish 233-pound stature.

Against the Cardinals, the Niners ran primarily between the tackles with great effectiveness (season-high 261 yards). The Packers must do a better job of tackling than they did in their Week 12 loss to the Falcons, as RB Michael Turner (23-110-1 rushing) in particular picked up a lot of extra yardage after initial contact.

Packers ILBs A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop (team-leading 10 tackles against the Falcons) must be leery of Westbrook’s cutback ability, and across the board Green Bay's D-line needs to put forth a much more consistent effort than it did against Atlanta.