The 49ers are playing with home money.
This team making the playoffs was such a stretch—the NFL once had a 0.4 percent chance—that it became an incredible feat just to be a member of the tournament.
But they’re in it now, baby.
Assuming this 49ers season is successful enough to make the playoffs, what does winning a game in the playoffs do?
The 49ers’ win over the Cowboys in Texas last Saturday was excruciating, but it was a playoff victory nonetheless.
And the Niners’ reward for that victory? 1 seed Packers and league MVP, quarterback Aaron Rodgers, on Saturday night in the freezing cold of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The temperature in the second half is expected to remain 7 degrees. (And no, that’s not Celsius.)
But don’t count this Niners team, which, blame and all, is two wins away from another berth in the Super Bowl.
They have nothing to lose (except the feeling in their fingers and toes) and everything to gain. which makes them dangerous.
In fact, they may have been created for this exact moment.
The NFL season begins with training camps in July and extends to the Super Bowl in February. Obviously, there is little change in temperature between the middle of summer and the dead of winter.
We are blessed to live in a more temperate place. Not half of the remaining eight teams are in these playoffs.
It’s easy (relatively speaking) to throw passes and fly around and deliver big hits on defense when it’s hot and everyone is loose, playing football in the deep harsh cold requires a different skillet, a different kind of stiffness Is.
So while the Niners don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures at home, they’re probably the best-equipped team to play “January football.”
And, my goodness, would they be feeling Saturday every January.
This brand of football is the main hallmark of the 49ers, whatever the month. It’s about driving the ball, preventing the other team from running the ball, controlling possession, and above all, being harder than your opponent.
We saw it play out over the stretch of this season. Behind an aggressive offensive line and backed by one of the NFL’s best defenses, the 49ers have run with the ball as well as any team in the NFL in recent weeks, with the pairing of Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell always succeeding. Is. Effect of thunder and lightning.
Of course, we truly perfected this type of football in the late turn of the season for the Niners’ team.
In 2019, the 49ers won two home playoff games en route to Super Bowl LIV, rushing an average of 235 yards per game in those competitions—an absurd number.
In fact, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only needed to complete 17 passes in those two games combined to win. He attempted only eight passes in the Niners’ victory over the Packers that season to win the NFC crown.
January wins football. Winning a playoff game in the cold may also be a requirement to win a title, as the Niners can attest a few seasons in advance.
Even last year’s champions Tampa Bay had to play out in the cold after beating the Packers in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game.
The last Super Bowl champion not to play a sub-40-degree playoff game was the 2010 New Orleans Saints, who played two games in a dome and then won the title in South Florida.
One win on Saturday, and the 49ers not only advance to the playoffs, but they also check a big box.
But beating the Packers is no easy task and the 49ers’ winning formula is exceptionally challenging.
San Francisco needs to control the game, drive the ball, not turn the ball.
Simple stuff, but it’s been five weeks since the Niners played a clean, zero-turnover game against a quality opponent. And even in that game—San Francisco’s overtime win over the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 14—Garopolo threw a game-losing interception. The pass was dropped because of the security of Bengal.
Green Bay makes no such mistake. Under Kyle Shanahan’s alumnus Matt LaFleur, the Packers are 30-0 if they win the turnover margin in a game.
And Rodgers doesn’t just turn the ball. He hasn’t lost a single fumble throughout the season and hasn’t thrown an interception since November 14. He’s going on a 20-touchdown, zero-pick run on Saturday. Garoppolo has eight interceptions ranging from eight touchdowns on that section.
Yes, there is a reason Green Bay favors winning games.
Then again, Dallas was pitted against the 49ers last week. How did it work?
Yes, the Niners have made this season more challenging than necessary, but they have found a way to win anyway. He has made this season a success.
And they can be built for more success to come.