The San Francisco 49ers handled business emphatically to move on to the NFC Championship Game but would the rather face the Packers or Seahawks?
As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers looked the part on Saturday as they thoroughly dismantled the Vikings in the Divisional Round. On the legs of Tevin Coleman and a stout defensive performance, San Francisco will now host the NFC Championship Game, meaning Kyle Shanahan’s club is now one home win away from traveling to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.
The team that stands in the 49ers’ way, however, has yet to be determined. On Sunday evening at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, the No. 2 and 5 seeds respectively in the NFC, will face off for the other spot in the conference championship game.
With San Francisco lying in wait as the Packers and Seahawks match up on Sunday in the Divisional Round, though, it’s a fair question to ask which team the 49ers would rather face. And considering that they faced both teams in the regular season, that makes things more interesting.
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By simple logic, you might say that the 49ers would rather face the Seahawks as they’re the lower seed in the NFC. While that may be true, the Seahawks and Niners faced off twice and Russell Wilson and Co. gave Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa and the San Fran all they could handle. Seattle won the first meeting and was just one yard shy from getting another win in Week 17.
Meanwhile, the 49ers absolutely shellacked the Packers when those two teams went toe-to-toe in the regular season. San Francisco dominated defensively, jumping out to a 37-8 lead at halftime and securing the 37-8 win as they limited Aaron Rodgers to just 104 yards passing and held Aaron Jones to only 38 yards on 13 carries.
Going solely based on what happened in the regular season, the 49ers would seemingly prefer to play the Packers over the Seahawks. However, things have changed a bit since those meetings.
In the case of Green Bay, they found more of an identity late in the year, getting hot in the rushing attack with Jones and relying less on Rodgers. Moreover, their defense took a step up in a big way to really propel them to the No. 2 seed. As for Seattle, injuries have continued to pile up while their defense simply is not the elite unit that we’ve seen them be in years past.
So where does that ultimately leave us? Despite the familiarity and despite how closely they played San Francisco in the regular season, the Seahawks are the more favorable matchup in my opinion. Rodgers and Wilson at their best are both terrifying but the Packers roster simply has more ways to have success beyond the quarterback than the Seahawks do.
No matter who the 49ers play, however, they’ll be at Levi’s Stadium for the NFC Championship Game and should be favored against either the Packers or Seahawks. But if you’re looking at all the cards on the table, Seattle would be the better on-paper matchup to help ensure the Niners make a Super Bowl appearance.