NFL Playoff Scenarios: 49ers' Playoff Hopes Depend on Ted Ginn's Health

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIDecember 21, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Ted Ginn #19 of the San Francisco 49ers in action against the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Lost in the shuffle of the 49ers' convincing win over the Steelers on Monday night was the injury to return man Ted Ginn Jr.

The 49ers' win was huge, as they held even with the Saints in the battle for the No. 2 spot in the NFC playoffs. But if the 49ers are going to succeed in the playoffs, they won't do so without Ginn at full health. 

San Francisco relies on defense and special teams to win. Without Ginn, they are going to be far too reliant on turnovers to win the field-position battle. Against the majority of the quarterbacks they have had to face this year, that's fine. Against the kind of quarterbacks the 49ers will encounter in the playoffs, that's a losing battle. 

With Ginn at full health, the 49ers have a chance to beat a team like the Saints. They will dominate the field-position battle and have a chance to score points.

Their defense will keep the team in games, but their offense is going to have to score points to win in the playoffs. If that's going to happen, the 49ers need to win the field-position game.

Without Ginn, that's not going to happen consistently enough for them to beat the NFC's best teams. 

And Ginn isn't just a special teams player. While he's certainly far from an elite receiver, Ginn does give the 49ers a real downfield threat that they otherwise don't have. 

With Ginn, the 49ers seem to run at least one reverse a game that never fails to pick up a big chunk of yardage. They also do short passes to him, and when Ginn has the ball in space, he's as dangerous as anyone. 

Additionally, even if he doesn't touch the ball on offense, Ginn does one other thing.

His speed makes defenses respect the threat of the deep ball. That opens up windows over the middle of the field for Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, not to mention pass-catching backs like Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. 

Ginn is the perfect example of a player whose value goes well beyond his stats. The 49ers need to do whatever it takes to be sure he's on the field when the playoffs roll around.