The San Francisco 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs tonight. It would come as no surprise at all if the 49ers choose to lean heavily on their star running back Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey led the entire NFL in rushing this season with 1,459 yards on the ground along with 14 rushing touchdowns. That's not to mention 564 receiving yards as well, proving that he can hurt you in every which way on the field.
It would be a wise strategy for San Francisco to lean heavily on McCaffrey no matter who the opponent is, but it would be especially wise against the Packers, whose rush defense has been below average all season.
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The Packers ranked 28th this season in rush yards per game allowed, averaging 128 yards allowed per game. They were only better than four other teams in the NFL when it came to stopping the run.
On the 49ers Talk podcast hosted by NBC Sports Bay Area reporters Matt Maiocco and Jennifer Lee Chan, they had guest Mike Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on to discuss this weakness in the Packers defense:
Silverstein said that if he was in Las Vegas, he "would put $1,000 down on McCaffrey getting over 200 yards."
That is coming from a guy who has watched the Packers play all season and he has that little faith in them to stop the 49ers running back.
One could view this as slightly hyperbolic, but remember, the last time these two teams faced each other in a playoff game at Levi's Stadium was when Raheem Mostert ran for 220 yards and had four touchdowns against the Packers.
Plus, it is important to keep in mind that McCaffrey has had nearly three weeks to rest the calf he strained against the Washington Commanders in Week 17. He is going to have fresh legs, which means he could be even more explosive than usual for San Francisco.
These are obviously different teams and it's a different year, but it would not come as a shock to anyone if the 49ers are able to establish the run early with McCaffrey and can control the football on the ground, setting up the play action pass game for some of their other play makers down the field.
McCaffrey and the Niners kick off against the Packers on Jan. 20 at 8:15 p.m. ET from Levi's Stadium.