The 49ers were thought of by many as the best team in the NFL after beating the Patriots in New England on December 16. Now, they’re more concerned than ever.
San Francisco was demolished by Seattle after blowing a 28-point lead in the second half against New England, meaning that they’ve been outscored 73-23 in less than six quarters. Colin Kaepernick was rattled by the hostile crowd in Seattle, and he will have to play on the road in the postseason.
That is, if the 49ers escape the first round.
Arizona stands in the way of the 49ers winning the NFC West, and if San Francisco wins it, they will be the second or third seed. If they do end up being the second seed, that would likely mean a second-round matchup with Green Bay. If they are the third seed, the same thing would happen.
If the Packers beat the Vikings on Sunday, that means that Green Bay is the second seed, and the 49ers would run into them in the second round if they win the NFC West. The 49ers would probably play the Bears as the third seed, although they could run into the Giants or Redskins.
The Giants need a few things to happen if they won, but they would present a challenge for San Francisco. They demolished the them this year, and they captured the NFC Championship at Candlestick Park last year (both games were in San Francisco).
If the Redskins are the opponent, it would also be bad for the 49ers. They have won six straight and have Robert Griffin III, a lethal running and throwing threat. Their defense has struggled, which could be good for the 49ers offense. Still, this would be a hard-fought, high-scoring game, no matter the location. Simply, the Redskins are talented, and they could catch the 49ers sleeping and win rather easily.
The 49ers will be challenged by all opponents, partly because of Justin Smith. He is hurt, and will not be 100 percent for the playoffs, if he plays. The Niners have performed horribly on defense without him the last two or so weeks.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kaepernick doesn’t look all that great right now either. There were a couple throws in the Patriots game that were almost intercepted, and he performed very poorly in the Seattle game. He doesn’t have experience, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman tends to abandon the run when playing from behind (which hurts Kaepernick and the offense even more).
And, when playing teams like Green Bay and Atlanta, chances are that the 49ers will be playing from behind.
Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers aren’t playing as well as they did last year, as Rogers has become a liability in the secondary. Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are lost for the year, while Vernon Davis is concussed, but will still be ready for the playoffs. Michael Crabtree has done well, but he is really the only main weapon in the receiving corps, and opposing defenses will likely limit his targets with a smuggling slew of defenders.
Last year, San Francisco had a top defense with Rogers and Whitner performing well,Frank Gore and Alex Smith doing well, the offense clicking, and a spectacular all-around team. However, Kaepernick has struggled, and I don’t believe that he will shine in the playoffs.
Gore’s playing time has been limited in recent weeks, and the 49ers have a bigger issue in the return game with Ted Ginn Jr. struggling mightily. The defense isn’t doing as well, and they don’t seem to be the same team they were last year. Injuries to Williams,Manningham, Smith, Kendall Hunter and others have hurt the team, and I think the hole right now is too big to dig out of.
Because when you compare this team to other top-notch teams, they just don’t seem to match up.