49ers would hate to face this team in Wild Card round of playoffs

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and Head Coach Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and Head Coach Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

If the 49ers end up making the NFL playoffs this season, they’ll likely not want to face off against this particular team in the Wild Card round.

The San Francisco 49ers still have a couple of ways they can get into the postseason.

The first and most direct, beating the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams in Week 18 would ensure the Niners are in, which would guarantee head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture, one spot over the Philadelphia Eagles, against whom San Francisco owns a tiebreaker from its Week 2 win at Philly.

The second, one which would involve the 49ers getting a little help if they lost Week 18, would be for the Atlanta Falcons beating the New Orleans Saints.

Ideally, the Niners handle their own business and don’t have to rely on another squad.

But that’ll be just the beginning of the journey. And with San Francisco not being able to climb any higher than the sixth seed, Shanahan and Co. are ensured they’ll be taking to the road for Wild Card weekend if they make the playoff dance.

And there’s one team they’d likely prefer not to face out of the rest of the possibilities.

49ers would hate to see Buccaneers in Wild Card round of NFL playoffs

Currently, the NFC playoff seeding is as follows:

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)
  5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
  6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

Week 18’s slate of games could shake things up a lot. But as things stand right now if the regular season was to end today, the 49ers would be traveling to take on the Buccaneers for the Wild Card round.

Not a preferred matchup.

Forget the Bucs’ mess with soon-to-be-let-go wide receiver Antonio Brown. Tampa Bay is getting wide receiver Mike Evans back healthy from a nagging hamstring injury, and he alone presents problems for a Niners cornerback room that has struggled with top-end wideouts for much of the year.

Putting the 6-foot-5 Evans against a cornerback like Josh Norman or even the up-and-coming rookie, Ambry Thomas, is a problem for San Francisco.

Oh, and there’s quarterback Tom Brady, too, who’d finally get to face off against his boyhood team in a playoff scenario, a dream he’s probably had ever since going pro. Brady, who has taken just 21 sacks this year, doesn’t figure to be an easy-to-get target for the 49ers pass rush, the lone unit that can help cover up a questionable cornerback group.

49ers don’t match up as well against Buccaneers as they do Rams, Packers

Granted, no Wild Card matchup is going to be easy for the Niners this season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are playing about as well as anyone else in the league right now.

But Rodgers has a 0-3 record in the postseason against San Francisco, including that memorable drubbing in the 2020 NFC Championship game that propelled the 49ers to the Super Bowl. On top of that, Green Bay is still allowing 4.8 rush yards per carry against this season, 31st in the league, suggesting that could play right into the 49ers’ run-first offense in an attempt to keep Rodgers off the field as much as possible.

Read More: 49ers vs. Rams: Week 18 betting odds, prediction

Shanahan seemingly has some advantages against former proteges, too, including Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and Rams head coach Sean McVay.

The Niners own a five-game win streak over Los Angeles ahead of their Week 18 regular-season contest. And if San Francisco had to travel to Southern California in the Wild Card round, it would surely be better than a full East Coast trip all the way to Tampa Bay.

Again, none of these matchups would be easy. But by sizing things up all around, heading off to face the Buccaneers would be the biggest thing the 49ers would prefer not to do in Round 1.

Next. 10 most painful playoff losses in 49ers history. dark