49ers key matchup No. 2: Clay Matthews vs. Joe Staley

Staley explains how he injured his nose vs. Packers

49ers key matchup No. 2: Clay Matthews vs. Joe Staley
January 10, 2013, 7:30 am
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This is the fourth part in a series that spotlights five 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Saturday, 5 p.m., at Candlestick Park.

49ers LT Joe Staley vs. Packers ROLB Clay Matthews

Tale of the tape
Staley (74): 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, sixth season, Central Michigan
Matthews (52): 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, fourth season, USC

Green Bay Packers pass-rusher Clay Matthews started the season strong. And, now, he is finishing even better.

The Packers had 47 sacks during the regular season with 15 different defensive players getting in the act. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers does not have to get creative in designing ways for Matthews to get to the quarterback. With 13 sacks in the regular season, Matthews is Green Bay's only consistent pass-rusher.

After returning to action late in the season after missing four games with a hamstring injury, Matthews picked up where he began the season. Matthews had four sacks in the final three regular-season games and added two more sacks in the Packers' playoff victory last week over the Minnesota Vikings.

That sets up a rematch against 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, who was chosen to his second Pro Bowl in two years. Matthews was named to his fourth straight Pro Bowl.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to play against Clay again," Staley said. "I didn't play terrifically well the first time. I'm happy for the opportunity to play against him again -- a little redemption."

Staley surrendered 2 1/2 sacks while working one-on-one against Matthews in the 49ers' season-opening 30-22 victory on Sept. 9 at Lambeau Field.

"It was one of those things watching the game, a lot of technique issues," Staley said. "When you're going against a player of his caliber, you have to be on your technique every single play, every single snap.

"I'm a different player now than I was Week 1. I'm excited to go against him."

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Staley's problems that day were easily identifiable and correctable.

"It was so simple it just jumped off the screen," Roman said. "As a coach I wish I could have helped him with it during the game.

"This is a game of technique and fundamentals. And when you're playing a guy like Clay Matthews, you've got to be on it. You have to technically be at the top of your game. And Matthews is a great example of a guy, as a pass rusher that does a great job of identifying weaknesses while he's rushing a tackle."

Staley took his lumps in another regard, too. He wore a new helmet that was not properly fitted. So every time Staley blocked Matthews, the brow of his helmet came down and gashed the bridge of his nose. Staley was covered in his own blood for most of the game, and the scar is still evident on his nose.

But all was not lost that day for Staley.

According to Pro Football Focus, Staley still put together a positive grade for the game because he did not give up any other quarterback pressures and his run-blocking was strong. Running back Frank Gore rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. The 49ers gained 186 yards on the ground.

"We had a solid day running that game," Staley said. "But we're paid to do both and I expect myself to be solid in both areas."

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