The Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the playoffs after a disappointing defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, a game in which Green Bay was heavily favored to win. Let’s discuss why the Packers lost, and what changes they need to make to get back into Super Bowl contention.

Packers Offseason Fixes To Head To Super Bowl 57

3. Clean up their special teams issues

Plain and simple, the Packers lost this game due to their struggles on special teams.

The Packers have struggled all season on special teams, but the struggles were especially egregious against San Francisco, and the mistakes that were made played a direct role in costing the Packers their season.

The Packers allowed the 49ers to block both a field goal and a punt. The blocked punt was returned for a touchdown, and that touchdown was the only time that the 49ers found the end zone throughout the entire game. If that sequence had not happened, while we don’t know exactly how the next drive would have played out and we never will know, Green Bay‘s defense had held solid and would’ve had a good chance of keeping the 49ers to either three points or zero points.

If this ended up being the case, we would be talking about an entirely different ball game.

However, even with this special teams gaffe, The game winning field goal for San Francisco as time expired in regulation never should have happened. At best, that kick should’ve been a game-tying field-goal. This is because Green Bay also allowed the 49ers to block one of their field goals.

Again, we don’t know for certain if the Packers made that field go how the rest of the game would have played out. There is certainly a chance that San Francisco would have elected to make a play for the endzone rather than kicking a field goal to send the game to overtime, and if they did that they might have won the game right there. Even if they kick the field goal to tie the game instead of win the game, the 49ers may very well still have prevailed in overtime.

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That being said, we can only judge a game based on what happened. The blocked punt that led to a scoop and score  touchdown was the only touchdown the 49ers scored all game. The blocked field goal resulted in a lost opportunity for Green Bay to put three points on the board, and they ended up losing by three points. Special teams may very well have cost the Packers their last shot at a Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers under center, and it may be years until they have another franchise-quality signal caller.

2. Retaining Rodgers and Adams

Jordan Love may or may not be the answer, and he certainly is not quite ready yet. The Packers need to do everything within their power to retain the two biggest pieces of their offense: Rodgers and Davante Adams. Rodgers has a well-documented history of issues with the Packers organization and came as close as he could to leaving last year, so there is certainly a chance he is no longer in a Packers uniform next season, whether because of retirement or trade.

While Rodgers won’t be a free agent until after next season, Adams is a free agent now. With the Packers significantly over the salary cap (to the tune of nearly $45 million), they will need to get creative and make some tough decisions. Adams is an elite receiver in the prime of his career, and every possible step must be taken to bring him back for another run at a Super Bowl.

1. Retooling around the salary cap

Speaking of the salary cap, the Packers will need to make some difficult decisions beyond just Adams. Their current roster doesn’t have too many holes, but some players are certainly going to be lost to free agency. The good news is there aren’t that many holes to plug right now. The hardest thing should be fixing the special teams, which can be done by improving the depth players and playing more people as part of that unit who typically wouldn’t be out there on the field.

You typically don’t want to have any of your starters blocking during punts or field goals, but if the depth players who are out on that unit won’t do their job, you don’t really have a choice, and that’s at least a relatively straight-forward fix.

The bad news is that it will be difficult to find a way to bring back as many players as possible while working against a salary cap. The Packers will also need to get creative in drafting or identifying and signing/trading for younger, cheaper players with potential who can fill the roles of some players who are due for prohibitively expensive contract extensions.

If the Packers are able to fix their special teams, retain their foundational pieces on offense in Rodgers and Adams to keep their elite QB-WR duo intact, and find creative ways to replace depth players who they lose to free agency while retaining as many of these players as possible, the Packers will be in good shape to return to the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl next season.