Through the first 11 weeks of the 2019 season, the San Francisco 49ers have raced out to the best mark in the NFC. They have had a strong start to the year in the prime position to make a strong push towards securing the top overall spot in the playoff picture in the conference. Since the 49ers dropped their first game of the year, there has been some slight doubt cast that they won’t be able to push through towards Super Bowl 54.
With that in mind, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has singled out one team as a potential stumbling block to those aspirations.
49ers’ strong start to 2019 season
The 49ers have blown past expectations this season by racing out to hold the best mark in the NFC heading into Week 12 action.
San Francisco has been anchored by the play of its stout defense, which is arguably the best unit in the league. They are currently ranked second in fewest yards allowed, first against the pass, and second with 15.5 points per game given up.
Meanwhile, the 49ers have had solid production from their offense, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo continuing to come into his own as the season has progressed. However, there remain some lingering questions about whether San Francisco can translate this tremendous regular-season success into a deep playoff run.
It has created some minor doubt that it has even arguably the greatest wide receiver in the game possibly concerned that one team could derail the 49ers’ Super Bowl chances.
Jerry Rice believes one NFC team will challenge the 49ers
The 49ers have steamrolled through many of their opponents this season, which has put them in a promising position.
However, San Francisco finally stumbled against the Seattle Seahawks in an overtime loss at home in Week 10 action. That game was enough to give Rice some pause to suggest during an interview on the Nat Coombs Podcast that the Seahawks, led by Russell Wilson, could be the team that ends the 49ers’ Super Bowl bid. (h/t ESPN)
Seattle is going to be hard to deal with because of Russell Wilson and the way this guy can assess what’s happening downfield and the way he can expand plays. He’s still got great vision downfield.
“I would say the Seattle Seahawks [are the Niners’ biggest threat] but then there’s the Saints, Cowboys, Philadelphia, it can go on and on.”
The Seahawks have continued to take promising steps forward this season behind Wilson’s stellar play as he’s putting together an MVP-caliber campaign. He has taken another step forward into cementing his status as a top-tier quarterback in the league that could see him put Seattle in Super Bowl contention.
How they played San Francisco on the road proved that the Seahawks can compete with them. What that indicates, more than anything else, is that there will be firm competition in the NFC playoff picture.
49ers face a tough road ahead in second half of season
San Francisco has worked its way into being a virtual lock to snag a playoff spot, but there is still a problematic patch of games left for them in the regular season.
The next three games could be quite telling if their hot start cemented them as a top team in the conference. The 49ers are set to face the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens, and New Orleans. Beyond that, they still have to face both the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams one more time each.
The 49ers have taken care of business up through this point, but the remaining games on the schedule should provide more clarity of where they stand among the top teams in the league.