With their ongoing six-game win streak, no playoff team enters the postseason hotter than the San Francisco 49ers. If you asked them now, they would likely say that they welcome the challenge of any of the other 11 playoff teams. Coach Jim Harbaugh put it succinctly in his Wednesday press conference, saying “We're going to take our best players and see if we can go beat their best players."
Perhaps, then, saying that there are any players the 49ers don’t want to face is a misnomer. However, that’s not to say that the 49ers find all opponents equal. If they could somehow sub out the NFC playoff teams for the likes of Jacksonville, Houston or Oakland, I’m sure they would sleep better at night—it’s just common sense.
This list, then, is of the 10 players or units the 49ers will likely have to spend the most time dealing with if they want to be crowned champions at the end of Super Bowl XLVIII.
To that extent, remember, matchups matter. While whichever team ends up facing Jamaal Charles will spend an inordinate amount of energy attempting to shut him down, the fact that the 49ers are unlikely to meet the Chiefs this postseason, coupled with their solid run defense, won’t place him on this list. It’s not the 10 best players in the playoffs—just the 10 the 49ers would theoretically have to spend the most time thinking about.
That’s why you won’t see any Chargers or Colts on this list. While potential Super Bowl matchups were considered, matchups against teams like Green Bay or Seattle are much more likely to happen, and thus were focused upon.
Clear? Good—off we go.