There are three teams the 49ers could face at Candlestick in two weeks for the divisional round of the NFC playoffs – the Packers, the Seahawks and the Redskins.
Which team do the 49ers match up best against? Who should the Niners be rooting to face?
I’ll list the teams in order.
1. The Packers. Despite Aaron Rogers being their quarterback, the Niners should prefer to play Green Bay first. They are somebody with whom the Niners are familiar, although Colin Kaepernick had only one snap against them in the season opener.
Their running game is not as potent as Seattle’s or Washington’s. Also, with the success the Vikings had running the ball against the Packers, Frank Gore might come back to life for more than just one or two runs a game.
Additionally, Mason Crosby, the Packers’ kicker, has had a season almost as miserable as Akers.
The Niners secondary would face a tougher test against the Packers than against the Seahawks or the Redskins passing games, but that is a trade off with which the Niners could live.
2. The Seahawks. The 49ers are familiar with them. The Niners would have an easier learning curve and prep time than against most teams. What’s more, Seattle is a different team on the road and on grass. The 49ers just saw them two weeks ago, and even though they killed the Niners, the Seahawks struggled against the Rams yesterday. Maybe the Niners should study Jeff Fisher’s defensive game plan against the Seahawks.
3. The Redskins. The 49ers have no familiarity with them. The Redskins have a dynamic running game with the Pistol option, they have a dual threat QB in Robert Griffin III and they have a defensive coordinator who blitzes coming off the bus. There are potentially too many surprises for which to prepare even though the Niners have a bye week to do a little bit of work against each of the possible opponents.
With this bye week, they should start game planning for Washington first because of the lack of familiarity with their personnel, the uniqueness of their offense and the myriad of blitzes from their defense. After that, do some work on Green Bay and then lastly Seattle.