Eddie Lacy and Old Man Winter will get a lot of press in the run-up to Sunday's game. But Patrick Willis isn't taking his eye off the Packers' no. 1 threat.
"The offense runs through Aaron Rodgers," the 49ers linebacker said today. "He gets those guys lined up and throws the ball, and the throws it quick."
Indeed, the consensus among 49ers players is that Rodgers looks like his old self after missing seven games this season with a collarbone injury. During his absence, the Packers leaned on Lacy, and the rookie running back came through in that span by averaging 74 yards a game and scoring six of his 11 rushing touchdowns. Lacy finished the season with 1,178 yards, good for eighth most in the NFL this year. (Frank Gore finished ninth with 1,128 yards).
But even if the temperature is under 10 degrees - which is what the latest forecasts predict - at kickoff, Willis thinks the Packers will let Rodgers decide their fate. Sunday in Chicago, for instance, there was a 16 mph wind and the wind chill was 14 degrees. Despite the conditions, Rodgers attempted 39 passes and finished with 318 yards. Lacy had a good day, carrying the ball 21 times for 66 yards.
"He's a dynamic quarterback," Willis said. "He can run if he has to and he can most definitely sling the ball. Having a running game helps with the pass, but at the end of the day he's going to throw that ball."
Asked today how he prepares for a bitterly cold game, Rodgers quipped that he prefers a cup of chicken noodle soup. Relayed that strategy, Willis laughed and said hot soup sounded good but that something else would be better.
"Give me a "W" and that will take care of all the warmth I need," he said.
-- Matt Barrows