Packers have to beat Niners in Week 1

Running back DuJuan Harris. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Packers have to beat Niners in Week 1

By Stephen O'Brien, Packers contributor. CREATED Aug 16, 2013 - UPDATED: Sep 6, 2013

GREEN BAY - Sunday's week one match up against the San Francisco 49ers is a big one. The game is a must win for the Packers.

Not only do the Packers owe the Niners some humble pie after their trouncing in the playoffs last season, but a lot more than pride is on the line when the two teams face off against each other.

The preseason was misleading and threw up headlines that Mike McCarthy isn’t wasting his time to read. The games before the "real ones" are like an expressionist painting; you have to know what to look for to get any benefit out of it.

The Packers need to show that they have their game together.

The uneasiness on the offensive line is a concern.  Against pass rushers like Aldon Smith, the Packers need to prove that they have those problems ironed out.

The Niners' defense will punish any team that is subpar and the Packers simply can’t allow themselves to be bullied, giving up as many sacks as last year.

The line also needs to show that they can excel on run plays. They need to create clean running lanes for the (hopefully) stud running backs to gain decent and effective yardage.

The Niners are efficient at stopping the run, so the matchup will be a great way for the Packers to show that they have a viable running option to the rest of the league and force defensive coordinators to fret at the prospect of having to plan for a devastating passing game and explosive running game.

The Packers defense will also have to contain a dangerous offense in the form of Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.

They have to show from week one that they have a handle on how to protect against the read option.

The Packers have to show they won't let option quarterbacks run all over them and show Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Reggie Bush and Trent Richardson (all of whom they will face this season) that getting to the secondary is the least of their worries when they face linebackers prepared to stop them at the line of scrimmage.

The receiving core will have to be as lethal as last year.

James Jones will have to post similar numbers to his league-leading performance and show his intent from week one. This receiving threat, along with a dangerous running game, will make defensive coordinators second guess on what area of the game to focus on.

With Aaron Rodgers quoted as saying that Randall Cobb will be a “100 catch guy," the Packers have huge potential to post Madden-style numbers against an uneasy Niners secondary, by far the weakest position on their roster.

The Packers have to show the league from the very beginning that the offensive line issues are but a shallow headline, the read option doesn’t phase them and that if you plan on stopping the pass, they will run all over you.

The schedule features the Redskins, Falcons, Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants and the Steelers so the Packers have to dispel any uneasiness around their abilities and instill that fear that only comes with having the warriors from Titletown in your stadium.

Read more from Stephen O'Brien of UK Packers (@packers_uk on Twitter) for which he is a co-founder and editor.