49ers key matchup No. 3: Carlos Rogers vs. Randall Cobb

49ers key matchup No. 3: Carlos Rogers vs. Randall Cobb
January 9, 2013, 9:15 am
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Carlos Rogers typically covers the opposition's slot receiver, and Randall Cobb is the Packers' top slot receiver. (USA TODAY IMAGES)


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This is the third part in a series that spotlights five 49ers-Packers matchups to watch Saturday, 5 p.m., at Candlestick Park.

Key matchup No. 4: Ahmad Brooks vs. Don Barclay 
Ket matchup No. 5: Vernon Davis vs. Charles Woodson 

49ers CB Carlos Rogers vs. Packers WR Randall Cobb

Tale of the tape
Rogers (22): 6-foot, 192 pounds, eighth season, Auburn
Cobb (18): 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, second season, Kentucky

When the 49ers went to Lambeau Field to open the season, they viewed wide receiver Randall Cobb a lot differently than they do now.

After all, six Green Bay Packers players caught more passes than Cobb in 2011. So the 49ers decided to put their fourth cornerback, Perrish Cox, on Cobb for most of the game.

This time around, the 49ers figure to make an adjustment to place veteran cornerback Carlos Rogers on Cobb. After all, Rogers is usually assigned to cover the opposition's top slot receiver. And Cobb is the Packers' top slot receiver.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers targeted Cobb nine times in Week 1. Cobb caught all nine of those passes. But Cox -- with a lot of help from linebacker NaVorro Bowman and safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner -- prevented Cobb from breaking any long plays. He was held to just 8.6 yards per reception. The 49ers' ability to prevent Packers big plays was a big key in the team's 30-22 victory.

"It was pretty surprising for me to start the year off, not knowing I was going to get that many snaps," said Cox, who was on the field for 51 of the Packers' 68 offensive snaps. "That was the most I had in any game the whole season. They brought a couple different things that I really wasn't prepared for. But I'm ready for all of it now."

Cox said he was not prepared to see Cobb line up in the backfield as much as he did in the opener.

The 49ers' view of the Packers' offense is a lot different this time around, as the club meet Saturday at Candlestick Park in an NFC divisional-round matchup.

"The good news is there isn't one guy you've got to stop," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "And that's also the bad news. There isn't only one guy you've got to stop. He (Rodgers) is very comfortable spreading this ball around.

"He's going to throw it to the open guy. He doesn't have a favorite it seems to me, which like I said, is good and bad. It's not one guy. 'Hey, if we take out Jordy Nelson we've got a great chance.' No, they've got three other really good receivers. And they've got their new toy with Cobb who came out in our game. They're doing a lot of things with him. He's lining up as a back, as a receiver."

One change from the first 49ers-Packers matchup that could occur is moving Rogers to match up against Cobb, who led Green Bay with 80 receptions for 954 yards and eight touchdowns.

Rogers typically covers the opposition's slot receiver, and Cobb is the Packers' top slot receiver. While covering such receivers as the New York Giants' Victor Cruz, St. Louis' Danny Amendola and New England's Wes Welker, Rogers had another solid season. While lined up in the slot, Rogers allowed 26 completions for 260 yards with one touchdown and one interception on 42 attempts, according to Pro Football Focus.

In Week 1, the Packers featured a lot of four-receiver sets. Running back Cedric Benson, who is on injured reserve, played just 25 snaps and gained just 18 yards on nine rushing attempts as the Packers turned one-dimensional.

The Packers expect to try to run the ball more this time around with late-season pickup DuJuan Harris, who finished the regular season with 157 yards and two touchdown on 34 rushing attempts. The 49ers remain confident they can stop the Packers' run game, even if they are in their lighter nickel or dime defenses. So the focus switches back to the passing game.

The Packers have plenty of targets for Rodgers in addition to Cobb. James Jones led the Packers with 14 touchdown receptions. Jordy Nelson, who has been limited in recent weeks with a knee injury, caught 49 passes with seven touchdowns. Greg Jennings, who missed eight games, is now healthy, too.