49ers playoff scenarios: Which possible outcome is best?

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
Dec 15, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) rushes against the Seattle Seahawks during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Seattle Seahawks linebacker Boye Mafe (53) follows the play at right. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers and the No. 2 seed

Road to the No. 2 seed:

  • The San Francisco 49ers defeat the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New York Giants


  • The San Francisco 49ers lose to the Arizona Cardinals and the Chicago Bears defeat the Minnesota Vikings

Path in the playoffs:

We take the teams that the No. 1 seed could potentially face and stick them here for the wildcard week of games, with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions the three teams that will be competing to take on the No. 2 seed.

Since the No. 2 seed is the most likely landing spot for the 49ers, all eyes will be on these three teams to see who takes the final playoff placing.

The 49ers of course know the Seahawks very well, sweeping them this season while chasing down their lead in the NFC West. While the Seahawks have been on a relative downswing for the second half of the season, their strong first half has ensured they’re the primary favorite to make the playoffs. The equation is simple for them, defeat the Los Angeles Rams and they’re in.

Should the Rams defeat the Seahawks however, then the Packers and Lions meet up in a “win and you’re in” situation. No. 7 seed up for grabs, who wants it more?

The 49ers are of course well used to playing the Packers in the playoffs in recent years, defeating them twice, including a memorable struggle at Lambeau Field last season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has regained some of his usual form in their run to make the playoffs, and the 49ers can’t be complacent due to previous successes.

The Lions have been one of the pleasant surprises in the NFC this season, combining some stout play with the excellent coaching of Dan Campbell to be big improvers. They can play with freedom, knowing they’re well above expectations for this season and will fancy themselves a puncher’s chance to cause some damage should they make it.

Should the 49ers dispatch of one of these teams as expected, they very well could be hoping to take on the No. 3 seed Minnesota Vikings (the Vikings are locked into the No. 3 seed if the 49ers beat the Cardinals). Minnesota have been savaged as “the worst Super Bowl contender ever” due to their record masking their often subpar play, but the truth is they’re still a team that can win close games.

The 49ers will fancy their chances however to beat the Vikings and get to the NFC Championship though, as they match up well in every conceivable way.

One last consideration. Should the Philadelphia Eagles also get knocked out of the playoffs early, the 49ers can also host the NFC Championship at that against whoever goes against them.