NFL playoffs: Which team would 49ers prefer to face in Wild Card?

Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) congratulates New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) congratulates New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers are guaranteed a home game in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, thanks to winning the NFC West, but which team is the best opponent and matchup?

Prior to the Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Giants and Washington Commanders, the San Francisco 49ers were slated to host the latter team, Washington, in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs later this January.

However, with the G-Men pulling off the primetime victory, they now are slated to travel to Levi’s Stadium to face off against the Niners. San Francisco currently holds the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoff picture, whereas New York leapfrogged Washington and into the No. 6 seed.

The 49ers could have jumped into the No. 2 seed if the Indianapolis Colts had figured out how to hold onto a 33-0 lead over the Minnesota Vikings, who would have fallen to 10-4 with a loss and would have technically been behind the Niners, also 10-4, by virtue of San Francisco having a better conference record.

Alas, though, the 49ers are still looking up in the NFL playoffs standings at the Vikings at No. 2 and the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 1.

Read More: NFL playoffs: Niners get no help after Vikings, Eagles both win

The Niners are all but guaranteed the No. 3 seed at the very least, as the winner of the lowly NFC South will claim the No. 4 spot.

Who will the 49ers play in the the Wild Card round of NFL playoffs?

With three weeks of regular-season action remaining, there are plenty of outcomes yet to be decided, particularly in an awfully tight NFC East race with Washington, New York and the Dallas Cowboys all jockeying for position and looking up at the one-loss Eagles that have already clinched the division.

Right now, though, the NFC playoff picture is as follows:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-1)*
  2. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)*
  3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)*
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  6. New York Giants (8-5-1)
  7. Washington Commanders (7-6-1)

* clinched division

The Monday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams, two teams all but officially eliminated from the postseason, won’t have any major bearing on the NFL playoffs.

With the Giants beating the Commanders, San Francisco would actually host New York, while the Vikings would host Washington in the Wild Card round.

Meanwhile, the scuffling Buccaneers would host the Cowboys despite Dallas having the better record.

Which team would the 49ers prefer to face, though?

NFL playoffs: Which team would 49ers prefer to play in Wild Card round?

The Cowboys could, at least theoretically, collapse a bit down the stretch and wind up as the No. 6 seed. Assuming the Niners stay put at No. 3, that’d set up back-to-back years in which San Francisco and Dallas had to square off against each other in the Wild Card round.

Both teams remember how last year’s edition ended.

While that might be great for the rivalry, the Cowboys still own the NFL’s No. 3-ranked scoring offense, paired with a defense that has more takeaways (26) than any other in the league.

From a rivalry perspective, this would be the matchup the 49ers would want, especially if a Niners win added another chapter to Dallas’ longstanding postseason misery.

Washington, meanwhile, has a bottom-10 offense that hasn’t scored more than 23 points in any of its last four games. While the Commanders’ defense is a top-10 group, one might figure this kind of game would play out in a fashion not unlike San Francisco’s one-sided domination of the Bucs back in Week 14.

For what it’s worth, perhaps the 49ers get a preview by hosting Washington in Week 16.

Then there are the Giants, who wrap up their Sunday night with a win, a one-spot leap in the NFL playoffs and now have the 20th-ranked scoring offense, which isn’t great but is still better than that of Washington. New York’s defense, however, is much more pedestrian and in the middle of the pack.

Considering the Niners’ own defense ranks No. 1 in the league, it might be more fortuitous to square off against a weaker offense like that of the Commanders, which is probably why that Wild Card matchup would be ideal for San Francisco.

There are still three more weeks to play, though.

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