Why Allen Lazard is the Packers’ Secret Weapon Against the 49ers

The Green Bay Packers entered the 2021 league year knowing they had Davante Adams as an established No. 1 receiver. They ended the regular season knowing they also had Allen Lazard as a reliable No. 2 wideout.

Although Lazard didn’t post All-Pro numbers in his fourth NFL season, he continued his ascent from undrafted free agent to a dependable starter in the Packers’ dangerous offense. If Green Bay hopes to advance to its third straight NFC Championship Game, the Packers need a strong outing from their fourth-year receiver against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night.

Allen Lazard quietly had a career year for the Green Bay Packers in 2021

The Packers entered the 2021 season expecting a significant jump from Lazard, who recorded 33 catches, 451 yards, and three touchdowns in 10 games last year. He entered the offseason on a high note after adding seven catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games.

Luckily for the Packers, the Iowa State product solidified his place as the Packers’ No. 2 receiver. Lazard finished his fourth season with career-highs in catches (40), receiving yards (513), and touchdowns (eight) in 15 games and 13 starts.

Lazard totaled 21 catches for 290 yards and five touchdowns in the Packers’ final five games. That’s a 71-catch, 986-yard, 17-touchdown pace across a 17-game season, and it should raise the Packers’ hopes about what the veteran wideout’s numbers will look like in 2022.

Lazard is the Packers’ secret key to beating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t only think of Lazard as a steady receiving option, but he sees the fourth-year receiver as something far more impressive,

“He’s a war daddy,” LaFleur told reporters ahead of the NFC Divisional Round. 

If the Packers hope to defeat the 49ers on Saturday night, they’ll need the War Daddy to conquer all in his path. The Packers have taken advantage of Lazard’s 6-foot-5, 227-pound frame to use him as a mismatch nightmare, similar to tight ends, on various passing plays throughout the season.

Although Lazard played 42 offensive snaps in a Week 3 victory over the 49ers, he only had one catch that night. However, that reception went for 42 yards and came on the Packers’ first drive, setting the tone for an aggressive offensive approach.

Things have changed significantly over the last four months, and the Packers will likely make Lazard a focal point of the offense on Saturday night. For the 49ers’ sake, they should hope they’ve spent enough time this week preparing to stop the Iowa State product in his tracks.

Green Bay will need more than Lazard to defeat San Francisco on Saturday

It appears the Packers’ bye week, one earned by being the NFC’s No. 1 seed, will work in the team’s favor from a health standpoint. The NFC North champions are expected to have several injured starters — including pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith — active and ready to go on Saturday night. Smith, who missed almost the entire season with a back injury, will likely come off the bench and play on a limited snap count.

As of publication, it remained unknown if left tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Jaire Alexander, each of whom earned All-Pro honors last season, will play on Saturday night. Bakhtiari missed all but one game this year while recovering from a torn ACL, and Alexander hasn’t played since suffering a shoulder injury in Week 14.

And, of course, the Packers have Aaron Rodgers. Lazard might be the Packers’ secret weapon, but Rodgers is the likely NFL MVP and is chasing his second Super Bowl ring.

Would you want to get in Rodgers’ path at this point? No, of course not.

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