49ers who must be on a snap count over final 3 weeks of 2022

Nick Bosa #97 of and Jimmie Ward #1 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Nick Bosa #97 of and Jimmie Ward #1 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /
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Having clinched the NFC West, the 49ers could either hope to climb the playoff seeding or look to rest some of their key starters down the stretch.

The San Francisco 49ers did something awfully important with their Week 15 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night.

For starters, they improved to 5-0 within the division, and that’s a great tiebreaker. In turn, it means the Niners have won the NFC West and secured a playoff berth, joining only the 12-1 Philadelphia Eagles as the only team to have done so in the conference before the remaining slate of games kick off over the weekend.

Philly is currently the No. 1 seed, while San Francisco is at No. 3. In between, the 10-3 Minnesota Vikings, who would swap places with the 49ers in the NFC playoff picture if they lose to the Indianapolis Colts over the weekend as the Niners have the better conference record and the tiebreaker there.

And with the lowly NFC South all but locked into the No. 4 seed, San Francisco isn’t going to drop into that spot, meaning it’ll be no lower than the third seed but still in play for the No. 2 seed with Minnesota.

As Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio argued, though, is that something the 49ers want to compete for?

"Like every team, the 49ers need to have its best players healthy for the postseason. Unlike most teams, the 49ers have a run-through-a-brick-wall mentality that can get players injured. They can’t be asked to tap the brakes. The best way to keep them healthy is to leave them in the garage. What’s the risk of resting starters? If the 49ers are the No. 3 seed, they’d have to go to Minnesota (at worst) for the divisional round. So the 49ers can dismantle the Vikings there, instead of doing so at home. Really, does anyone think the Vikings can compete with the 49ers?"

Perhaps the answer is somewhere in between. The Niners don’t have to go all out for a No. 1 or even a No. 2 seed, but they shouldn’t completely rest their starters either.

How about a snap count instead, particularly if it involves these three players?