The San Francisco 49ers return to the playoffs for the first time since their 2019 Super Bowl run after a thrilling Week 18 overtime win over NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams.
The 49ers were a 13-3 power in 2019, winning the No.1 seed and a first-round pass, but this 2021 version, a 10-game winner and the 6th seed, could actually be better. placed to win everything that 2019 team.
Let’s compare the groups of attacking positions from each season to see who has the advantage.
16 games, 329/476 69.1%, 3978 yds, 27 TDs and 13 INTs, 2.7% INT
15 games, 302/441 68.3%, 3810 yds, 20 TDs and 12 INTs, 2.7% INT
Trey Lance (D)
Arguably Jimmy Garoppolo is the same quarterback he was in 2019, down to the exact same interception percentage. The 49ers had a winning formula in 2021 that was a carbon copy of the winning formula they had in 2019: running the ball, playing great defense and protecting football. In fact, the 49ers haven’t won a single game this season in which they lost the turnover battle against their opponent (0-5) and the team won just two games in which Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception – Week 12 against the Vikings, and Week 18 against the Rams.
The biggest difference between 2019 and 2021 is the player who occupies the position of QB2. Trey Lance is a significant improvement over Nick Mullens, and with Garoppolo’s thumb still not at 100%, the save position could be a factor in this playoffs.
Edge: 2021 49ers
772 yds, 8 TDs, 5.6 yds / att
14 receptions, 180 yards, 2 touchdowns
544 yards, 6 TDs, 4.0 yards / att
21 receptions, 180 yards, 2 touchdowns
623 yards, 1 TD, 5.1 yards / att
19 receptions, 120 yards, 1 TD
105 yards, 4 TDs, 3.9 yards / att
3 receptions, 34 yds, 1 TD
7 meters, 0 TD
20 receptions, 239 yards, 1 TD
Elijah Mitchell (D)
963 yards, 5 TDs, 4.7 yards / att
19 receptions, 137 yards, 1 TD
294 yds, 2 TDs, 3.7 yds / att
7 receptions, 31 yards, 0 TD
68 yards, 1 TD, 4.3 yards / att
23 receptions, 157 yards, 0 touchdowns
Trey’s Sermon (R)
167 yards, 1 TD, 4.1 yards / att
3 receptions, 26 yards, 0 TD
22 meters, 1 TD
30 receptions, 296 yards, 1 TD
The 49ers only had to win two playoff games to get to the Super Bowl in 2019, and those two games built on each other. strongly on the ground game. In the divisional round against the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers ran the ball 43 times for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns, for a nearly 2: 1 advantage in possession. The following week Raheem Mostert ran trampled underfoot over the Green Bay Packers at 220 yards, on 29 attempts, for a mind-blowing 7.6 yds / att and four affected.
The 2021 49ers don’t have the groundbreaking speed of Raheem Mostert available, nor the tough, relentless running of Tevin Coleman, but they do have rookie superstar Elijah Mitchell, who has been a nice combination of the two runners for the team this season. However, the depth at the running back position is nowhere near the same as in 2019, and if Mitchell gets injured, the running game could take a heavy hit in its effectiveness.
The X factor for the 49ers running game in 2021 was Deebo Samuel, who finished the team’s season second in rushing yards with 365, and team first in rushing touchdowns with eight. If Mitchell got injured, Samuel would likely become a bigger factor in the running game, but it could end up hurting the offense as a whole.
Benefit: 2019 49ers
Wide receivers / narrow ends
85 receptions, 1053 yds, 5 TDs
Deebo Samuel (D)
57 receptions, 802 yards, 3 touchdowns; 159 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
36 receptions, 502 yards, 3 touchdowns
30 receptions, 358 yards, 5 touchdowns
11 receptions, 109 yards, 2 touchdowns
6 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD
77 receptions, 1,405 yards, 6 touchdowns; 365 meters on the ground, 8 TDs
71 receptions, 910 yards, 6 touchdowns
56 receptions, 826 yards, 5 touchdowns
24 receptions, 282 yards, 5 touchdowns
15 receptions, 177 yds, 0 TDs
9 receptions, 87 yards, 1 TD
The 2019 49ers had to swing a midseason trade to bring in Emmanuel Sanders, 32, from the Denver Broncos to bolster the wide receivers hall and provide much-needed veteran leadership to a relatively young squad. The fact that he finished third on the team in receptions after being on the roster for only half of the season tells you everything you need to know about this squad in 2019. George Kittle was the wide receiver on wide receiver. The team’s most dangerous passing, with rookie Deebo Samuel making an impact, but nothing quite comparable to his impact in 2021.
Kittle and Samuel are still the focal point of the passing offense for the 49ers in 2021, but Deebo has become a true superstar and won his first Pro Bowl selection. Not only did Deebo lead the team in receiving yards, he also finished second on the team in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns.
Second-year gap Brandon Aiyuk is the player who makes this season’s squad much more dangerous and electric than the 2019 squad. Aiyuk’s emergence after a lackluster start to the season coincided with the 7-2 run. of the 49ers to advance to the playoffs after a disappointing 3-5 start. Add that to second-year Jauan Jennings’ late-season bloomer, and this pass-catching squad is as dynamic as any other in the playoffs.
Edge: 2021 49ers
Joe Staley & Co. was a dominant unit in 2019, especially when Weston Richburg held the central position. Richburg suffered a horrific knee injury in the win over the New Orleans Saints – one that would lead to his eventual retirement without setting foot on a football field – which pushed Ben Garland into the starting role. Garland fulfilled his role admirably, but overall play on the line started to decline without Richburg in the middle, especially in pass protection.
The 2021 offensive line benefited from a world season from Trent Williams on the left tackle point, and veteran Alex Mack arrived in the middle position to provide consistent leadership while bolstering pass protection. In fact, the 2021 squad allowed three sacks less than the 2019 squad, even with the 17th game added to the schedule. Having an improved cross, and Trent Williams, entering the playoffs puts the 2021 49ers ahead.
Edge: 2021 49ers
The 2021 offense is more dynamic and efficient than the 2019 version and is better suited to winning a match if the defense weakens. The 49ers finished the season 5th in offensive DVOA, the first top 5 for Kyle Shanahan during his tenure in San Francisco. The running game is not as dominant as it was in 2019, but the passing game performs much better, with better pass catchers and a better pass blocking line.
Ultimately, this team will go as far as Jimmy Garoppolo’s right arm and thumb can carry them.
Bring in the Cowboys!
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