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Thursday, January 10, 2013
What to expect on the Patrick Willis front

By Mike Sando

Patrick Willis spent unusually long stretches on the sideline when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers in Week 1.

The Pro Bowl linebacker figures to play more extensively when the teams play one another Saturday in a divisional-round playoff game at Candlestick Park.

That is because the Packers are using four-receiver personnel groupings less frequently as the rematch approaches. They are using fewer personnel groupings featuring zero running backs.

The 49ers frequently used cornerback Perrish Cox in their 30-22 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field in the opener. But with Green Bay making at least some attempt to threaten teams with a running game, the Packers' offensive personnel use figures to be a little more conventional this time. That favors Willis playing his usual role.

See also: Kevin Seifert's look at the Packers' evolving offense; Matt Barrows' look at Willis' role last time; and Eric Branch's piece with thoughts from Willis.