Another NFL postseason, another Green Bay Packers versus San Francisco 49ers showdown. If it feels familiar, that's because the matchup is the NFL's most familiar playoff matchup with Saturday night in the Bay Area serving as the 10th edition between these two historic heavyweights. 

The seventh-seeded Packers became the youngest team (average age: 25 years, 214 days) to win a playoff game since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger following their 48-32 demolition of the second-seeded Dallas Cowboys . The top-seeded 49ers have won the last four matchups in this playoff series, but that was with Aaron Rodgers as the Packers quarterback. 

Now, Green Bay has a new field general in Jordan Love. He threw the second-most passing touchdowns (32) in the 2023 regular season and has helped power the Packers to wins in seven of their last nine games, including the playoffs, while throwing 21 touchdowns and only one interception in that span. 

The 49ers are currently huge 9.5-point home favorites against Green Bay, per Sportsline's consensus odds, but with a quarterback as en fuego as Love, anything is possible. 

Here is a ranking of the five players likely to have the most outsized impact on the final result of Saturday night's game.   

5. Rashan Gary, LB, Green Bay Packers

The closest the Packers have been to knocking off the 49ers in the postseason lately was the 2021 NFC divisional round, and that was in large part because of Rashan Gary's contributions. 

He totaled a postseason career-high 2.0 sacks against San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to go along with six quarterback pressures in a 13-10 loss as the 49ers kicked a game-winning field goal at the buzzer. He also made a key run stop to force a turnover on downs with the Packers up 10-3 with under seven minutes left in the game. 

If the Packers are going to advance this time, they'll need a similar performance. Gary may have a favorable matchup in the 49ers' offensive line. His 16.4% quarterback pressure rate this regular season was the 11th-best among 84 players with at least 350 pass-rush snaps. On the flip side, the 49ers allowed a quarterback pressure rate of 40.3% this regular season, the seventh-highest in the NFL.

That's a matchup where Gary could shine brightly. 

4. Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers

Like Gary, Bosa also had 2.0 sacks in that 2021 postseason matchup when Rodgers was the Packers quarterback. The Packers have provided Love a clean pocket for the vast majority of the 2023 season, allowing a pressure rate of 30.3%, the third-lowest in the entire NFL. 

If Bosa can wreak havoc and create a foreign environment for Love, that could swing the game in San Francisco's favor. 

3. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

There are chances for Green Bay to continue its strong play on the ground. On the surface level, it doesn't look that way. The 49ers allowed 89.7 rushing yards per game in the regular season, the third-lowest in the NFL. However, that figure is influenced heavily by San Francisco almost exclusively playing from ahead in the vast majority of its games, forcing opponents to become reliant on throwing the football to come back. 

San Francisco played from ahead for 11 hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds of game time across the 18-week regular season. That's the second-highest rate in the NFL behind only the AFC's top-seeded Baltimore Ravens (11:32:57) and the best rate in the NFC. When the 49ers actually had to defend the run, they were below average. Their run defense expected points added of 6.54 ranked as the fourth-lowest in the NFL. Their rush defense success rate -- the rate of plays in which less than 50% of the 10 yards needed for a new first down were gained on first or second down as well as a rushing first down not being picked up on third or fourth down -- was 53.9%, 19th in the NFL.

That's music to Packers running back Aaron Jones' ears. Green Bay's RB ran for playoff career-highs of 118 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, an incredibly efficient 5.6 yards per carry, against the Cowboys. That output tied the NFL all-time record for rushing touchdowns in a road playoff game, rushing touchdowns in a wild-card round game and rushing touchdowns in a Packers postseason game. Jones' seven career playoff rushing touchdowns are the most in Green Bay history. 

Jones has run over 100 yards in four consecutive games, tied with Ahman Green in 2003 for the such longest streak in Packers history. It's also the longest active streak in the NFL right now. There is some opportunity for Green Bay to punish San Francisco up front and keep their defense off the field. 

2. Jordan Love, QB, Green Bay Packers

The way Love is playing right now, anything within reach for Green Bay. The 49ers have the seventh-best pass rush in the league in terms of pressure rate (39.6%) and sacks (48, tied with multiple teams). During the Packers' stretch of winning seven of their last nine games in which Love has thrown 21 touchdowns and one interception, he has been just as elite when pressured.  

He has eight touchdowns and no interceptions when under duress with an 8.6 yards per pass attempt figure. Over the course of the entire 2023 regular season, that figure would rank as the fifth-highest in the NFL. If San Francisco isn't able to get a quarterback to the ground while pressuring them, that's where they are in the trouble. They blitz at the fifth-lowest rate in the NFL (22%), yet they still surrender the worst completion percentage (58%) and seventh-most passing yards per attempt (6.6) when pressuring opposing quarterbacks this season. 

Over Love's last three games, must-wins at the Vikings, against the Bears and at the Cowboys, he has generated a perfect passer rating (158.3) when pressured with 290 yards and four touchdowns on 17 of 21 passing. Love was five for seven for 152 yards and two touchdowns when pressured against the Cowboys on Sunday. 

On third down, the money down, Love is equally perfect. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions on third down across the last nine games. That's also a weak spot for San Francisco as they ranked 24th in third down conversion rate allowed (41%) this season. 

1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, San Francisco 49ers

The biggest mismatch for the Packers defense is McCaffrey. He was the wire-to-wire rushing champion (1,459 rushing yards) this season, leading a San Francisco ground game that was one of the best in the league.

Meanwhile, the Packers allowed opponents to run for 140 or more yards in an NFL-worst eight games this season, tied with the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals for the most such games allowed in 2023. If McCaffrey gets rolling on the ground, something that could very well happen, this game is going to look a lot like the 2019 NFC Championship game: a 37-20 blowout

Rushing This Season (NFL Ranks)

Packers Defense49ers Offense

Rush YPG

128.3 (28th)

140.5 (4th)


4.4 (23rd)

4.8 (4th)

Some of those putrid performances came against teams without capable passing attacks in games against the Atlanta Falcons (211 rushing yards), New York Giants (209), Pittsburgh Steelers (205) and Denver Broncos (145). San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy led the NFL in yards per pass attempt (9.6) and passer rating (113.0). Getting McCaffrey going with a head of steam in the 49ers' offense overflowing with playmakers is a recipe for San Francisco domination.