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4 reasons the 49ers will beat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game

The NFC Championship is a matchup between the top two teams in the conference as the second seeded Green Bay Packers travel to Levi Stadium to face the first seeded San Francisco 49ers.

While Green Bay’s team is respectable, the 49ers are on a different level. Even if the game is close in the end, San Francisco possesses home field advantage and several other advantages over Green Bay.

Let’s break down four reasons the 49ers will come away with a win on Sunday night.

4. Pass protection

Last week, the 49ers faced the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Round. During the regular season, Minnesota accumulated the fifth-most sacks in the NFL with 48. For reference, San Francisco’s defense also accumulated 48 sacks.

Led by rising star Danielle Hunter and savvy veteran Everson Griffen, the Vikings planned on causing trouble for Jimmy Garoppolo. Minnesota sacked Garoppolo twice in the first half and never brought down the quarterback again. The Vikings finished the game with just three quarterback hits.

During the season, defenders sacked Garoppolo 36 times. That ties Garoppolo with Aaron Rodgers for 14th in the league. As for Green Bay’s pass rush, they finished with 41 sacks.

Considering how well San Francisco’s offensive line held up against Minnesota’s pass rushers, the line should hold steady against Green Bay’s assault.

3. The pass rush

As previously mentioned, the 49ers finished the regular season tied with Minnesota for the fifth-most sacks in the NFL. However, San Francisco separated themselves from the Vikings in the Divisional Round. There, San Francisco’s defenders racked up six sacks and nine quarterback hits.

The 49ers did produce the most forced fumbles (23) and sack yards (367) in the NFL this season. The pass rush deserves most of the credit for the team’s success in these areas.

San Francisco’s defensive line looks like the depth chart for a Pro Bowl. Breakout defensive end Arik Armstead finished the regular season with 10 sacks and 18 quarterback hits. Free agent signee Dee Ford dealt with injuries, but he still contributed 6.5 sacks. Rookie Nick Bosa brought in nine sacks and added a new level of energy to the defense. At defensive tackle, DeForest Buckner added 7.5 sacks of his own.

Even though Rodgers is well protected, there’s nowhere for him to hide against San Francisco’s monster front.

2. No one can stop George Kittle

A season after finishing as a Second Team All-Pro, Kittle became a First Team All-Pro for 2019. Over the past two seasons, Kittle accumulated 173 receptions, 2,430 receiving yards, and 10 receiving touchdowns. He is a beast and will find a way to make an impact in Sunday’s game.

Even when he isn’t catching passes, Kittle is a game-wrecker. The Iowa product is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and he enjoys burying defenders every game. Coming off of a low-production game against the Vikings, expect Kittle to be involved early and often in San Francisco’s attack.

1. The 49ers’ run defense

While Rodgers is a future Hall of Fame quarterback, Green Bay’s offense relied heavily on Aaron Jones this season. Jones led the NFL in rushing touchdowns during the regular season with 16 and contributed 97.4 yards from scrimmage per game. His 19 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns also led the league.

Jones carried the ball 21 times for 62 yards in the Divisional Round, but he also scored two rushing touchdowns. Those rushing lanes will not be available against the 49ers. Even though San Francisco allowed 112.6 rushing yards per game during the regular season, the team held Minnesota to just 21 rushing yards last week.

The Vikings also possess a very talented running back in Dalvin Cook. Yet, San Francisco’s ultra-talented defensive front swarmed Minnesota’s ground game and stomped it out. Armstead contributed one tackle for loss against the Vikings. Ford added another. Bosa picked up two. Buckner also registered two tackles for a loss.

Even at the linebacker level, with Fred Warner and the recently returned Kwon Alexander, the 49ers stack up well against Green Bay.

The 49ers possess one of the most talented defensive fronts in the NFL. Green Bay relies on some success from their running game, but San Francisco will snuff out the ground game.