49ers

Why Chris Simms says Packers' fear of 49ers could help in NFC title

Why Chris Simms says Packers' fear of 49ers could help in NFC title

Last time the 49ers and Green Bay Packers met, Aaron Rodgers and Co. were embarrassed on national television as the Niners announced themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders with a 37-8 stomping at Levi's Stadium. 

Now, the Packers will return to Santa Clara with a trip to Super Bowl LIV on the line when they face the 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

The 29-point beatdown in their first meeting has many already penciling in the 49ers as the NFC champions. It certainly played a role in Vegas making them heavy betting favorites.

But NBC Sports' Chris Simms believes the previous throttling actually could help the Packers. 

"The Packers have gotten better on the defensive side of the ball, and they've been pretty consistent offensively," Simms said. "Plus, this week they are going to be waking up every day fearing that they are going to get blown out again. They are going to be motivated by fear, which is a good thing.

"I think Green Bay will get the advantage of, 'Hey, been there, done that.' We've played in this stadium. We know what to expect with the crowd noise, the defensive line, how explosive and ferocious they are. That'll help them out for some of that and some of the tendencies they saw there ... The 49ers can roll into this game feeling confident. They are the better football team. But as we know, it's the NFL. Between being scared like the Green Bay Packers should be, or having that fear and coming up with some curveballs in their game planning, and Aaron Rodgers has been in this game before and there's great belief in him -- and we know in the difference between a blowout and a close game is like three of four plays, so I expect a much closer game this time."

The 49ers know they can't rest on the Week 12 blowout if they plan to move on to Miami. Rodgers knew he'd have to go through Levi's Stadium one way or another, and the legendary quarterback appears to be playing his best ball at the perfect time.

Green Bay will have to get running back Aaron Jones going in order to slow down Nick Bosa and the Niners' pass rush. A successful running game should give Rodgers time to find Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham in the passing game. If Jones can't get going, Rodgers will be running for his life all night.

[RELATED: Super Bowl is 49ers' to lose with Ravens, Lamar out of way]

Simms believes the fear will help the Packers keep it close, but he's still picking the 49ers to win 24-17 and advance to the Super Bowl.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

How 49ers can add more picks in 2020 NFL Draft, according to Peter King

The 49ers own the No. 31 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but after that, they are extremely shorthanded on selections this year. 

San Francisco has just one pick in the top 150. After the first round, the 49ers won't be on the clock again until the fifth round. They own two fifth-round picks, one in the sixth and two in the seventh. 

Between the second and fifth round, it's completely barren for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. But NBC Sports' Peter King looked at how San Francisco could accrue more selections this April. 

Here's what King wrote in his latest Football Morning in America column. 

To project the Niners’ path, I looked north for a clue. The arch-rival Seahawks, with ever-restless GM John Schneider, provided an excellent example in 2019 of how to turn one first-round pick into a bevy of picks, replenishing what would have been a thin crop.

The trades:

Seattle traded its first-round pick, 21st overall, to Green Bay for the 30th, 114th and 118th picks.
Seattle traded the 30th pick to the Giants for the 37th, 132nd and 142nd picks.
Seattle traded the 37th pick to Carolina for the 47th and 77th picks. At 47, Seattle picked S Marquise Blair.
Seattle traded the 77th and 118th picks to New England for the 64th pick. At 64, Seattle selected WR DK Metcalf.
Seattle traded the 114th pick to Minnesota for the 120th and 204th picks.
Seattle picked WR Gary Jennings Jr. at 120, S Ugo Amadi at 132, LB Ben Burr-Kiven at 142, and RB Travis Homer at 204.

So Seattle turned pick 21 into picks 47, 64, 120, 132, 142 and 204 ... two second-round picks, two fourth-round picks, one fifth-round pick and one sixth-round pick.

The 49ers lost their second-round pick when they acquired defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason. They then lost their third- and fourth-round picks when they acquired wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders in a midseason trade with the Denver Broncos.

But they added a fifth-round pick in the Sanders trade and a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions in a 2018 trade where they shipped away linebacker Eli Harold.

[RELATED: 49ers in good shape at QB entering the 2020 offseason]

The 49ers don't have too many holes on their roster after losing to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, however, depth is always a must as they learned this season. With Jimmie Ward being an unrestricted free agent, the 49ers could target a safety early in the draft. They also likely will have their eyes on a loaded receiver class and depth on the interior offensive line. 

To add picks, though, they might have to take a lesson from their biggest rivals.

49ers roster analysis: Quarterbacks in good shape entering 2020 season

49ers roster analysis: Quarterbacks in good shape entering 2020 season

This is the first installment of a 10-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Monday, a look at the 49ers’ quarterback position.

Under contract (signed through)

-Jimmy Garoppolo (2022)
-C.J. Beathard (2020)

Expiring contract

-Nick Mullens

As an exclusive-rights free agent, Mullens has no outside negotiating power. The 49ers retain his rights with a qualifying offer, but they could also look to sign him this offseason to a multi-year contract.

What needs to happen

The 49ers kept three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster last season because they believed the third quarterback held more value than a backup player at another position. That strategy did not cost the 49ers.

Despite keeping an extra quarterback, the 49ers were still able to bring back the top players they cut at the end of training camp when they needed them. Those players included running back Jeff Wilson, safety Marcell Harris, linebacker Elijah Lee and defensive lineman Damontre Moore.

This offseason, the 49ers will again be open-minded about the possibility of trading a quarterback. Beathard is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after this season, so it is unlikely the 49ers will be able to keep all three quarterbacks beyond this year.

The 49ers can also be expected to sign a fourth quarterback for the offseason program and training camp. They are likely to pick up an undrafted rookie who could have a shot at the practice squad if the 49ers deal away one of their QBs.

Expectations

Garoppolo threw for the fourth-most yards in franchise history in 2019. He was particularly impressive over the final 10 games of the regular season, when he achieved passer ratings of 110-or-better seven times.

Garoppolo started 19 games, including the postseason. In the Super Bowl, he completed 18 of his first 21 pass attempts. But in the final 10 minutes, he went 2 of 10 for 24 yards with an interception and a sack. The 49ers let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead get away in a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Afterward, Shanahan backed Garoppolo.

Garoppolo had never before started more than five games in a season before 2019. He should be even better in 2020 with a great knowledge of coach Kyle Shanahan’s system and the valuable experience he gained.

Overall, Garoppolo threw 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. A reasonable expectation is that he cuts his interception total in half for the 2020 season.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

Mullens won the backup job last year over Beathard. Despite not attempting a pass, Mullens believes he made improvements behind the scenes that will be apparent the next time he gets a chance.

The 49ers should feel good about their quarterback situation entering the season, and there is no reason for the 49ers to make any significant move at this position.