Tonight's NFC Divisional Playoff contest is a rematch of the semi-shootout that took place between the 49ers and Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 1. San Francisco that afternoon edged out the Packers by a score of 30-22, but a lot has changed since that early September match-up.
This time, it's Colin Kaepernick, not Alex Smith, who will line up under center against the Packers. Kaepernick has been superb since taking over for a concussed Smith in mid-November, but does he have what it takes to stand toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in January? Perhaps. The fact that this game is at Candlestick Park and not Lambeau Field certainly helps Kaepernick's cause.
Speaking of Rodgers, he'll face a 49ers defense that has struggled as of late. Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Smith will take the field for the first time since partially tearing his left triceps against New England on Dec. 16. Smith is the straw that stirs the drink for San Francisco, as evidenced by the fact that sack artist Aldon Smith hasn't been nearly as effective during Smith's absence. With the big 5-technique back in the lineup, the 49ers will look to get back to the level of defensive play that allowed them to steamroll through much of their 2012 schedule.
NFC Divisional Round: Packers at 49ers
Game date/time: Saturday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
Line: 49ers by 3