Jimmie Ward sends message to 49ers' NFC Championship Game opponent

Jimmie Ward sends message to 49ers' NFC Championship Game opponent

Jimmie Ward didn't quite guarantee a 49ers win in next Sunday's NFC Championship Game, but he definitely doesn't like the chances for either the Green Bay Packers or Seattle Seahawks. 

"Oh yeah, I'm watching that game hard, and whoever the winner is, good luck coming into Levi's and trying to get a win," Ward told NBC Sports Bay Area's Grant Liffmann on Postgame Live after the 49ers beat the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game.

The Seahawks and Packers play Sunday at Lambeau Field for the right to come to Santa Clara next weekend.

With their win over the Vikings, the 49ers are now 7-2 at Levi's Stadium this season.

One of those two losses did come to the Seahawks in Week 10, so Seattle won't be that intimidated if they advance.

Back in Week 12, the 49ers crushed the Packers 37-8 at Levi's Stadium, so Green Bay will have to overcome some serious demons to advance to Super Bowl LIV.

With Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt back from injuries, the 49ers clamped down on the Vikings, holding them to 21 rushing yards and 147 total yards of offense.

"It was big-time," Ward said of having those players back on the field. "Communication was there and we stopped a good running team. We forced them to be one dimensional and got them off their game and that's why we held them to 10 points."

[RELATED: 49ers' defense sets playoff team record]

After a dominant performance Saturday, Ward and the 49ers can sit back and watch the Packers and Seahawks beat up on each other Sunday. But once that game ends, San Francisco will turn their attention to next Sunday.

A trip to Miami will be on the line.

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.