With the NFC Championship nearly upon us, one win separates the San Francisco 49ers and a seventh Super Bowl appearance. Niner Noise makes five predictions about what will happen during the game.
One game separates the San Francisco 49ers from a Super Bowl appearance—a situation that only the most overly optimistic of fans could have envisioned to start the season.
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Last week, I wrote an article with some bold predictions for the game against the Minnesota Vikings, which you can read here. I didn’t do do well, tallying only one out of five.
So let’s get right into it. It will be more successful this time.
No. 1: Dee Ford will tally multiple sacks
When EDGE Dee Ford returned to the 49ers lineup in the playoffs, the defense looked every bit the unstoppable monster it was in the first half of the season.
Ford notched a sack and two quarterback hits in only 22 defensive snaps. He looked 100 percent healthy, and was blasting off from the line of scrimmage.
While the 49ers are adept at moving their defensive line players to different areas, Ford will mostly be lining up against Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga.
Bulaga is one of the top right tackles in the league, and missing most of the first matchup against San Francisco was a big reason the 49ers were able to put so much pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On the other hand, the 49ers didn’t have Ford for the game at all.
Ford has the ability to get off the line quickly. It doesn’t sound like much, but his ability to hit the offensive lineman before they’re set means he can just cause havoc.
Look for him to beat Bulaga and cause Rodgers all sorts of grief.
No. 2: George Kittle will better his stats from Week 12
For this prediction, we must first look at tight end George Kittle and what he did against the Packers in Week 12.
Kittle had six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. The Green Bay defense had no answer for him, as the talented tight end would either go past them or through them.
Kittle didn’t need to do much in terms of catching the ball against Minnesota, but expect to see him called upon a lot more in the Green Bay rematch.
Kittle is ready for his playoff moment, and I think he will outdo his production from his first game against the Packers this season.
No. 3: Raheem Mostert will get the most rushing attempts for San Francisco
The real benefit of the 49ers’ platoon system at running back is that you can never be sure exactly what head coach Kyle Shanahan is going to throw at you. Raheem Mostert was by far the hot hand at the position, and many people (myself included) thought he would feature heavily on offense.
However, due to cramping, the bulk of the carries instead went to Tevin Coleman—with absolutely no regression whatsoever.
The ability to swap between the two, as well as the resident speedster in Matt Breida, is a big boon in making the offense unpredictable. However, I believe this game will see Mostert return as the top running back in the rotation.
When the 49ers want speed they’ll go Breidam and if they want toughness then we’ll see Coleman on the field.
But as the versatile back in the best form of his career, expect to see Mostert back as the lead running back of the group.