The San Francisco 49ers had a season of extremes. In their first eleven games, the 49ers were an abysmal 1-11. In those games, they were led by Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard. After a midseason trade, Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted into the starting lineup, and everything changed. The 49ers finished the season 5-0, and had a top five offense in those games despite having little offensive playmakers. With the new-found confidence of a star quarterback, the 49ers are ready for any team’s challenge. This begs the question: which playoff teams could the 49ers beat? To judge this, the 49ers will be given a final score out of ten against every team, signifying how many times the 49ers could beat that team if they played ten times.
Which Playoff Teams Would the San Francisco 49ers Beat?
The Buffalo Bills are quite simply the worst team in the playoffs. Therefore, it is safe to assume the 49ers could easily beat them. The Bills are one of the better rushing teams in all of football, rushing for the sixth most yards in the NFL. Almost all of those rushing yards have come from LeSean McCoy. Rather than employ a backup running back, veteran full back Mike Tolbert has assumed that mantle.
With the Bills passing offense ranked second to last in total yards, the defensive formula for the 49ers is simple: stop the run. McCoy is officially listed as questionable for the Bills first round matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he cannot play, then the question shouldn’t be whether the 49ers could beat the Bills, but rather could any team lose to the Bills.
Final Score: 9/10
Week 15 provided a very exciting matchup between the 49ers and the Tennessee Titans. The 49ers jumped out to an early lead, but squandered it in the second half. Then, with less than two minutes to play, Garoppolo orchestrated a brilliant drive that netted the 49ers a game winning field goal. Seeing as they have already beaten the Titans, the 49ers have proved they could beat them again.
Final Score: 8/10
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs have ridden a roller coaster throughout the 2017 season. After a drubbing of the New England Patriots , the Chiefs were the hottest team in football. Then they went through a dry spot, losing six out of seven games. After that, they finished the season on a hot streak, winning their last four.
Perhaps the only team in football that finished the season hotter was the 49ers. This would be a great matchup of two swaggering teams. It would be very difficult for the 49ers to bottle the offensive weapons of Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. Having said that, the Chiefs defense has not been particularly great, and is the worst pass defense team in terms of DVOA. With this matchup most likely resulting in a shootout, the odds are usually in the favor of the better quarterback, which at this point in time is Garoppolo.
Final Score 6/10
In week 16, the 49ers beat the Jaguars, and beat them bad. At the time, the Jaguars were the number one ranked defense. Then, Garoppolo dropped 44 points on them. Not only did the Jaguars take the loss, but there was friction amongst the troops on the sidelines. If Garoppolo’s high play is enough to take down an elite defense and cause them to turn on themselves, then it stands to reason that the 49ers would be favored in this matchup.
Final Score: 7/10
The Pittsburgh Steelers are perhaps the scariest team on offense. No team can boast as many star skill position players. There is simply no way the Robert Saleh can put together a game plan with the pieces he has to slow down Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The game plan for the 49ers would be to win this game in a shoot-out style fashion. While it will be difficult for the 49ers to outduel Ben Roethlisberger and the offense, there is no quarterback playing better than Garoppolo at the time, and he may just be up for the task
Final Score: 3/10
New England Patriots
The Patriots by far are the toughest matchup against the 49ers. Bill Belichick had Garoppolo under his wing for three and a half years. He probably knows more about Garoppolo than the entire 49ers offensive staff. The Patriots are ranked 20th in the NFL in terms of defensive DVOA. Despite this, it would be foolish to think the architect of legendary defensive game plans, such as the ones that stopped the K-Gun Bills and the Greatest Show on Turf Rams, could not find some way to make Garoppolo play left handed.
All that being said, the 49ers could still win this game. It would not be very likely, but the path is clear. The 49ers would need Garoppolo to play at such a high level, he could beat Belichick’s plans, and gain the high ground against his former master in Tom Brady. They would also require an Al Pacino-esque motivational speech by Shanahan. All signs point to a Patriots victory, but at least the 49ers have a puncher’s chance.
Final Score: 1/10
In 2016, the Atlanta Falcons were the number one pass offense in terms of DVOA. That was with Kyle Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. After Shanahan took his talents to the bay, the Falcons have fallen to the 10th ranked offense despite having almost all of the same players. The 49ers will not only put Shanahan’s offensive expertise to use, but also his familiarity with the Falcon’s personnel. The 49ers would have the advantage in this matchup.
Final Score: 7/10
The 49ers opened the season against the Carolina Panthers. Despite Cam Newton showing rust after missing the preseason, Hoyer looked even worse. Things have changed drastically since then. Newton has shaken off a lot of the rust, and the 49ers have made a dramatic change at quarterback.
The Panthers boast the number one ranked defense in terms of DVOA. It is more likely that the Panthers would stop the 49ers than the 49ers would stop the Panthers. The only hope for the 49ers would be to take down another top ranked defense with their golden bullet of Garoppolo.
Final Score: 3/10
New Orleans Saints
Almost every Drew Brees-led New Orleans Saints team is an offensive juggernaut. Similar to the Steelers, the Saints boast many offensive weapons, such as Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Mark Ingram. This game would play out similar to how the Steelers game would play out.
The Saints are better on defense this year due to an outstanding draft class. Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Maye have helped make the Saints respectable on defense, which is all they need with their high-powered offense. Ultimately, the Saints may be too much to handle for the 49ers, though they still might be able to pull off the upset.
Final Score: 2/10
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams and the 49ers appear to have a rivalry brewing. These teams faced off twice in the year, and split the season series. However, neither team was at their full strength for both matchups. The 49ers lost to the Rams when they were still starting Hoyer. The Rams lost to the 49ers when they were resting their starters.
This matchup would be incredibly close, and likely an offensive explosion. The Rams have more pieces on defense than the 49ers, so they have the upper hand. Despite this, the 49ers may be able to outscore the Rams.
Final Score: 4/10
The Minnesota Vikings are an incredibly interesting team. They have an elite defense, and move the ball on offense. However, this is all done with Case Keenum at quarterback. Keenum is a career backup who has played excellently all year. As of week 15, Keenum was the sixth highest graded quarterback according to PFF. This game will come down to Keenum. If he continues his Cinderella season, then the Vikings should have the upper hand. If he turns back into a pumpkin, then the 49ers will be the ones donning the glass slippers.
Final Score: 3/10
If Carson Wentz is healthy, there is perhaps no better all-around team in football than the Philadelphia Eagles. The injury to Wentz was tragic as it robbed the NFL of one its brightest stars, and robbed the Eagles of almost all hope to bring home a Lombardi Trophy. Now that Nick Foles is the Eagles quarterback, this should be an easy matchup for the 49ers. The Eagles defense is great, but with Garoppolo having picked apart an elite Jaguars defense, he is up for the task.
Final Score: 8/10