Packers are a different team, too

Packers are a different team, too
January 8, 2013, 10:45 am
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In mid-October, DuJuan Harris was selling cars in Jacksonville. Last week against Minnesota, he compiled 100 total yards and a touchdown. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

So Green Bay thinks the 49ers are a different team than the one they faced in the season opener?

The Packers need to take a look in the mirror. Because while the 49ers have a new quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, the Packers have new running backs in DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant, neither of whom were on the roster before Dec. 1, punt returner Randall Cobb has become a dependable receiver and the then-wet behind the ears defense with so many new faces has matured, so to speak.

"A lot's happened," Packers coach Mike McCarthy. "We're a different football team than we were four weeks ago."

[RELATED: Packers move on from Vikings, focus on 49ers]

Per Associated Press, more than 12 starters or projected starters have missed at least one game due to injury, including defensive back Charles Woodson, linebacker Clay Matthews, receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson and running back Cedric Benson.

And on the offensive line, the Packers are on their fifth different lineup while three different players have started at right cornerback over the last seven games.

After Benson was lost for the season five games into the season with a foot injury, the Packers trotted out Alex Green and James Starks. It took the 5-feet-8, 203-pound Harris getting promoted from the practice squad on Dec. 1 to get the running game in gear.

The Packers have rushed for at least 100 yards in five of their last seven games, and while Harris ran for just 47 yards on 17 carries in Green Bay's wild card victory over Minnesota Saturday, he also caught five passes for 53 yards.

A heavy dose of Harris would be something different for the 49ers, who limited the Packers to just 45 yards on the ground (27 yards from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, 18 from Benson).

"We’ll see how the week goes," Harris said. "The gameplan could be a little different. You never know. We’re just going to watch film and see what we need to do to win."

No need, though, to watch film from the season opener.

Defensively, the Packers have found an identity as well.

"I think we can attack you in different ways," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said, via Associated Press. "I think we've got more athletic ability on our defense this year than we had. I think these young guys have given us more athletic ability, more speed, more pass rush ability."

At least, more than they showed on Sept. 9, right?