SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers will open the playoffs against the Green Bay Packers, their most frequent postseason nemesis since winning their last Super Bowl 18 years ago behind Steve Young & Co.
For the sixth time since 1995, the 49ers and Packers will go head-to-head in the NFC playoffs, this time in a divisional-round game Saturday at Candlestick Park.
The No. 3-seeded Packers beat the visiting Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in the wild-card round Saturday, earning the right to visit the No. 2-seed 49ers.
The 49ers beat the Packers 30-22 in the regular-season opener in Lambeau Field, the 49ers' first win in their past nine trips there.
A lot has changed in the past four months since their last meeting, however.
For starters, the 49ers quarterbacks have, literally. Alex Smith completed 76.9 percent of his passes (20 of 26) for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in that game. When the Packers (12-5) encounter the 49ers (11-4-1) again, they'll be facing Colin Kaepernick in his eighth consecutive start since replacing Smith.
Another potential drastic change involves kicker David Akers, who tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in that opener. Akers went on to make a career-low 69 percent of his field-goal attempts this season and spent the past week competing for his job with Billy Cundiff.
Although the 49ers won that opener, left tackle Joe Staley believes it was his worst game of the season, represented by the bloody wound his nose sustained and Clay Matthews' 2½ sacks.
"It was bad," Staley recalled last week of that Sept. 9 game. "I didn't play very well, and I improved as the season went on. I'm sure he's better as well."
Staley is one of the 49ers' nine Pro Bowl invitees; Matthews is among the Packers' Pro Bowl-bound trio.
Coach Jim Harbaugh is not expected to address the media until Monday regarding his 49ers' first playoff opponent.
The 49ers have won only one of five playoff meetings with the Packers, and that victory featured Terrell Owens' dramatic winning touchdown catch in the 1998 season's wild-card round for a 30-27 win. Those 49ers went on to lose 20-18 to the eventual NFC champion Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons, this year's No. 1 seed with a 13-3 record, will host the winner of the wild-card game Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) and host Washington Redskins (10-6). That Falcons' opener will take place Jan. 13 at 10 a.m.
The 49ers have won 11 of their past 13 playoff openers, including last season's 36-32 comeback victory over the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick. The 49ers' last Super Bowl triumph came 18 seasons ago, when they opened the playoffs with a 44-15 divisional rout of the Chicago Bears.