Biggest Questions 49ers Must Answer Before 2022-23 NFL Playoffs

Joe TanseyDecember 28, 2022

Biggest Questions 49ers Must Answer Before 2022-23 NFL Playoffs

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after making a catch during the game against the Washington Commanders at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Commanders 37-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
    Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers are cruising into the NFL postseason.

    Kyle Shanahan's team has not lost since October 23 despite a rash of injuries affecting most key positions on the field.

    The 49ers have two weeks left to fine-tune their offense with Brock Purdy at the helm and chase after the No. 2 seed in the NFC. They are one game behind the Minnesota Vikings.

    Home-field advantage could mean more to the 49ers this postseason than it has in previous years. They are 7-1 at home and held four opponents under 10 points.

    Any extra advantage will help with Purdy entering his first postseason as a starting quarterback.

    The 49ers have a system in place that is suited for a deep run, but there are some things that could still go wrong.

Is Brock Purdy Ready For Postseason Football?

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    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 24: Brock Purdy #13 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass against the Washington Commanders during the second quarter of an NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Brock Purdy has been the epitome of consistency since taking over the starting quarterback job.

    The rookie out of Iowa State threw for multiple touchdowns in four straight games, and he has three 200-yard performances in that span.

    Purdy has been a steady director of the 49ers offense even with all the injury disruptions.

    Beating a bunch of weaker teams with a superior offensive line and defense is one thing. Purdy's biggest question mark is if he can win a divisional-round game or an NFC Championship Game against tougher teams.

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders are playoff contenders, but they are not in the same stratosphere as the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. Or even the Dallas Cowboys at their best.

    We will not learn anything new about Purdy when he plays the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 17 and the Arizona Cardinals in Week 18.

    His defining moments will come once the 49ers play tougher opponents in the second round and beyond in the postseason.

Can the 49ers Avoid Any More Injuries?

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 11: Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers runs after making a catch during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Buccaneers 35-7. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
    Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

    San Francisco has had some of the worst injury luck this season.

    The 49ers are on their third quarterback and had issues with their top playmakers at running back and wide receiver.

    Kyle Shanahan and his staff can't directly prevent more injuries from happening, especially on offense, but it has to be a concern if the 49ers need all stars available in a playoff game.

    Deebo Samuel is on the mend, and Elijah Mitchell could come off injured reserve in the next week.

    Those two returns would bolster San Francisco's chances of making a Super Bowl run.

    49ers coaches, players and fans must be hoping for no new injuries at this point so a proper Super Bowl chase can be made over the next six weeks.

Are 49ers Tested Enough On Road?

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers heads to the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown catch during the game against the Washington Commanders at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers defeated the Commanders 37-20. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
    Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

    The 49ers have played two road games since their Week 9 bye.

    San Francisco beat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11 and defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.

    The 49ers do not have a menacing road finale against Las Vegas on Sunday.

    That means the 49ers will not have left the Pacific time zone since their Week 6 trip to Atlanta.

    Seattle is the only threatening environment the team played in since its set of four road games in the first six weeks.

    Everyone expects the same 49ers that have been winning the last two months to show up in Philadelphia and Minneapolis.

    But that might not be the case because the 49ers have so little experience playing on the road with Purdy at the helm.

    Even if Purdy and others need a quarter to get used to the tough road environment in the playoffs, it could be detrimental to winning.

    San Francisco can avoid this more by landing the No. 2 seed with some help from Minnesota's last two opponents.

    But it will be interesting to see how much of the lack of a road schedule in the second half of the regular season affects the 49ers, if at all, in the playoffs.

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