But as is the case for every aspiring NFL contender that hopes to be underneath the Infinity Screen at SoFi Stadium on February 13, there is that one worry attached to their playoff run.
ALL the latest 49ers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on 49ers newsletter here!
During the latest airing of Heavy Presents: I’m Just Saying, a trio of Heavy NFL panelists dove into the biggest concern surrounding the 49ers.
Health Is the ‘Heart & Soul’ of 49ers Defense
I’ll start: As of the morning of Friday, January 21, Nick Bosa is yet to participate in practice due to being in concussion protocol.
Fred Warner has also been limited this week due to an ankle injury.
That’s the heart and soul of the 49ers defense who may/may not be at full strength versus Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and company.
Bosa is the leading sack master. Warner is the leading tackler. Even if both the edge rusher and linebacker do play at Lambeau Field in subzero temperatures, here’s what you have got to wonder:
One: Will they get worn down from a conditioning standpoint in those elements as players who weren’t full practice participants?
Two: In the case of Warner, what are the chances that his ankle, in those inclement temperatures, tightens up? He loses his lateral movement to deliver sideline-to-sideline plays.
There’s plenty of optimism including from beat reporters who cover the 49ers that both men will be in the starting lineup for Saturday’s Divisional bout. Nick Wagoner of ESPN reported on Friday that Warner got left off the Thursday injury report — indicating he will start. Bosa is still considered too be determined.
Still, though. Having them at full health and on the field together helps the 49ers so much. And when both weren’t in the lineup momentarily against the Dallas Cowboys, the home team managed to cut a 16-point lead to 23-17 before ultimately losing.
So my worry: Bosa and Warner not being at full strength.
Heavy’s Paul Esden’s worry? Who is behind Alex Mack for the 49ers.
Jimmy Garoppolo has still left plenty in the 49ers faithful wondering if he’s still the guy who can get the ‘Niners back into the Super Bowl. Esden shared his reasonings behind worrying about Jimmy G.
“On one play you see Jimmy make these special throws that make you say ‘wow.’ Then he’ll miss a wide open pass on the next play. This is just a microcosm of what he is as a football player,” Esden said.
That wide open play was this overthrown pass to Brandon Aiyuk — which would’ve surely stuck the sword into the Cowboys’ hearts.
Will add this: Garoppolo, in his last three games, has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (two). And this latest one occurred during the fourth quarter:
Fortunately for Jimmy G and the offense, the 49ers defense bailed them out. However, Esden sent this message:
“Jimmy, if you’re going to be the quarterback of a Super Bowl team or one that makes a deep playoff run then you have to hit the easy throws. Jimmy’s inability to do that kept the Dallas Cowboys in the game.”
Heavy’s Brian Mazique’s biggest worry? Not a person or coach, but an entire team.
His worry is how the 49ers truly match up with the NFC’s top seed.
“The worry is that they’re simply not better than the Green Bay Packers. So they’re going to lose,” Mazique predicted. “It’s going to happen and when 49ers fans go through a thing after they lose to the Packers, as they will do, they should still lick their wounds, heal up from that pretty quickly and say we had a pretty solid season. Now next year is the season where we have a pretty positive era of 49ers football.”
Mazique isn’t the only one picking Green Bay. For ESPN, it was a clean sweep: