Packers-49ers: Three keys
Alex Smith Which Smith will show up? The one we saw last January against the Saints, the one we saw against the Giants or a completely different Smith altogether? It's no secret the 49ers wanted to get more weapons around Smith. The question now is can Smith generate some offense with Mario Manningham, Randy Moss and AJ Jenkins now in the mix? Look for the Packers to blitz and force Smith to make throws. Also as an added wrinkle, see if the 49ers use backup QB Colin Kaepernick in a Wildcat role.
Turnover margin These two teams thrived on protecting the ball on offense and forcing takeaways on defense. Indeed, these the 49ers and Packers ranked number one and two in turnover margin in 2011. So ball security, a big issue for the Packers in the preseason, will be a key today.
Tempo Despite the personnel upgrades on offense the 49ers aren't changing their stripes overnight and will still look to control the game by running the ball with Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Meanwhile, for the Packers to be successful they need to keep Aaron Rodgers upright. If the protecting holds up Rodgers should have no issue slicing up San Francisco's secondary and turning the game into a track meet.
Prediction Packers 29, 49ers 21