49ers-Packers matchups to watch: 1. Smiths vs. Newhouse

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49ers-Packers matchups to watch: 1. Smiths vs. Newhouse

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a series that spotlighted three 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX-TV), at Lambeau Field.

Matchup No. 3: Anthony Davis vs. Nick Perry
Matchup No. 2: Vernon Davis vs. Charles Woodson
Tale of the tape
Aldon Smith: 6-foot-4, 258 pounds, second season, Missouri
Justin Smith: 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, 12th season, Missouri
Marshall Newhouse: 6-foot-4, 319 pounds, third season, Texas ChristianAldon Smith is set to make his first NFL start at outside linebacker.But it remains to be seen if he'll play all that much outside linebacker Sunday afternoon against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.The Packers figure to spread out their offense with multi-receiver formations and then go with mostly a no-huddle offense. That means the 49ers could spend almost all of Sunday's game with their nickel defense on the field.
And that means Smith is likely to play more defensive end. The 49ers play a four-man line when they have extra defensive backs on the field.The weak link of the Packers offensive line is left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Either way, he'll be going up against a Smith. If the 49ers are in their base defense, Newhouse will line up against Justin Smith. If the 49ers are in nickel, Newhouse will have to contend with Aldon Smith, who led all rookies last season with 14 sacks.Green Bay must come up with a plan against the Smiths. The 49ers' best hope for slowing down the Packers on Sunday will be for Aldon Smith and Justin Smith to get some hits on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and disrupt the offense's timing.
Newhouse, a third-year pro from TCU, probably will not be able to handle either Aldon or Justin Smith straight up. Newhouse, who started 13 games for the Packers last season, has good feet but he does not possess great upper-body strength. The Packers are likely to use running back Cedric Benson to help out."He's improved this preseason from last season," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Newhouse. "They give their guys a lot of help, too. In particular, their back. They do a lot of chipping. But their offensive line, their tackles, are young guys that have played well for them, and we'll see if we're up to the challenge."On run downs, Justin Smith should be able to use his strength to clog things up. He was the 49ers team MVP last season. How in the world can he possibly improve over what he did last season when he was named All-Pro at defensive tackle and defensive end?"Anticipation of what the offense is trying to throw at you," Justin Smith said. "It's more film study not just watching it but understanding why they're doing it, and down and distance all those tendencies."Smith has been pouring over Packers film off and on since the schedule was released in mid-April, and he knew a road trip to Green Bay was the next game on the schedule."We've been watching it for a while now," he said. "We know they're going to give us some wrinkles. They do a good job of self-scouting as well. We're pretty much get prepared for them and go from there."

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

Seahawks lose All-Pro S Earl Thomas for season

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks will be without safety Earl Thomas for the rest of the season due to his broken lower left leg, no matter how far the team advances in the playoffs.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that further examination determined Thomas' fractured left tibia will require a recovery time that does not allow for the possibility of a return during the 2016 season. Carroll said after Sunday's 40-7 win over Carolina that Thomas' injury usually takes a minimum of six weeks of recovery time.

It's the first major injury of Thomas' career. He played 106 straight games before missing Seattle's loss at Tampa Bay last week with a hamstring injury. He quickly recovered to play against the Panthers, but was hurt in a second-quarter collision with teammate Kam Chancellor going for an interception.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Mike Nolan coached the 49ers for three full seasons before he was fired after Week 7 in his fourth year at the helm.

On Monday morning, he was asked about the situation in Santa Clara and if he would make a change at head coach or general manager.

"It's sad that it's gone to where it is," Nolan said on 95.7 The Game. "They're beginning to look much like when I took the job over in 2005 ... and there really was not a lot of good personnel on the team.

"The difference though that is better and will continue to be better, they will be (in) a much better cap situation going forward than we ever were back then ... but the losing I should say is really killing them.

"The personnel is not as bad as they're playing and that's the thing that really gets under your skin as a coach because you're frustrated by what's going on ... the thing that I have thought most of the season when people were talking about changes as the losses started to mount up, was not to change it. Because I know Trent (Baalke) personally, and Trent does a good job with personnel and that's his primary job.

"But for a lot of strange reasons -- guys retiring, guys quitting a couple years ago, just a lot of weird things that occurred -- their roster has kind of fallen off a little bit, but it is still a much better roster than some of these other teams that are not winning."

After winning their Week 1 game against the Rams, the 49ers have lost a franchise-record 11 straight games.

Chip Kelly is under contract through 2019 and the team owes Jim Tomsula $7 million over the next two years combined.

Baalke's contract runs through 2018.

"It's about players first and I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players but unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him and currently right now with Chip Kelly it's not helping him either," Nolan added. "They do not have a bad roster.

"Obviously they need a quarterback. They could be a .500 team in my opinion if they get a quarterback as near as next year even ... they got a tough decision to make at the end."