By GERY WOELFEL
One of the few bright spots for the Packers in their 31-26 loss to the Buccaneers in last season’s NFC Championship game was the play of Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The lanky and exceptionally fast Valdes-Scantling arguably played the best game of his pro career. He caught four passes for a game-high 115 yards. One of his receptions went for 50 yards.
It was the type of game Packer officials had been longing to see. After all, up until that point Valdes-Scantling had been an enigma, flashing signs of greatness at times, flashing signs of incompetence at others.
After that highly encouraging performance against the Buccaneers, the Packers obviously had to feel Valdes-Scantling had finally found his niche, that there wasn’t any urgency to draft a big-time receiver in the first or second rounds of the 2021 draft, or acquire one via a trade or free agency.
But after two games this season, Valdes-Scantling hasn’t remotely come close to duplicating his showing against the Buccaneers. In fact, there has to be major concerns among the Packers brass about whether he’ll ever develop into a quality and reliable complement to star Davante Adams.
Valdes-Scantling has a mere three catches this season for a mere 17 yards. Considered the Packers’ most dangerous vertical threat, His longest reception has been 10 yards.
Valdes-Scantling’s lack of productivity is particularly baffling because he’s been targeted 12 times – with only Adams having been targeted more on the team.
If the Packers are to upend the 49ers today – the 49ers are 3-point favorites – Valdes-Scantling has to show up. He has to give the Packers a legit deep threat to loosen the 49ers secondary and, more importantly, make the 49ers pay for their inevitable schemes to neutralize Adams.
Prediction: Packers 27, 49ers 20.