Monday, January 7, 2013

2012 49ers Season, Playoff & Packers Historical Facts

For the 2nd straight year, Harbaugh again led the 49ers to the NFC West crown and the #2 overall seed in the NFC.  Had Akers been his normal self and made the 2 OT FGs in both games vs the Rams, we would have finished 13-3 just like last year, instead of 11-4-1.  However, the replacement ref's horrific call which cost the Packers a W early on vs Seattle actually ended up helping us win that first round bye and the right to host Green Bay this week instead of traveling to Lambeau.

This is the first time the 49ers have won back-to-back NFC West titles since doing it 4 times straight from 1992-95.  This is the 19th NFC West title in the 43 years we've played in the West.  That's about 44% - not bad.  But recently, its only our 3rd in the last 15 years - horrifically bad.

Since the Superbowl era began in 1966, this is the 23rd playoff appearance for the 49ers.  In those past 22 playoff seasons, this is how we fared:
Eliminated in Wild Card round - 2 times.
Eliminated in Divisional round - 7 times.
Eliminated in NFC Championship round - 8 times.
5 Superbowl victories - No losses in the big game (eat your heart out, Brady.)

This is the 6th time the 49ers finished as the 2nd seed in the NFC West and yet have only won the Superbowl from this position once.  (The other 4 championships were won from the #1 seed).
1983 - 10-6 - Div champs, lost in Conf round
1988 - 10-6 - Div champs, Superbowl Champs
1993 - 10-6 - Div champs, lost in Conf round
1995 - 11-5 - Div champs, lost in Div round
2011 - 13-3 - Div champs, lost in Conf round
2012 - 11-4-1 - Div champs, TBD

This is also the first time the 49ers have had double digit number of victories back-to-back since 2001-'02.  Interestingly, we actually won 12 games in 2001 but failed to win the NFC West (because of Kurt Warner).  Before that, SF had been in the double digits for an astounding 16 years straight - from 1983-1998.  You could argue 17 years straight, since 1982 was a strike shortened season and the 49ers won 13 games in 1981 (not to mention the Superbowl).  In fact, in the 35 years that the NFL expanded to 16 games (minus strike shortened year), the 49ers have won double digit games 21 times!  That's 60% of the time.

Though we've finished with double digit wins 20 previous times since the 16 game season began, we've only actually finished with exactly 11 wins once before.  It is eerily similar to this season.  In 1995, the 49ers finished 11-5, just beat out the Packers for the #2 seed, then hosted them in the divisional round.  How'd we do?  We were behind 21-0 by the 2nd quarter and lost 27-17.

Our Playoff history vs the Packers isn't good at all:
1995 Divisional Round - Lost 27-17 in Candlestick - Down 21-0.
1996 Divisional Round - Lost 35-14 at Lambeau - Down 21-0 to start again.
1997 Conference Round - Lost 23-10 in Candlestick - Down 23-3 before late kick return.
1998 Wild Card Round - Won 30-27 in Candlestick - TO's "The Catch II".
2001 Wild Card Round - Lost 25-15 at Lambeau - GB scores last 10 points.
2012 Divisional Round in Candlestick

Though both teams have extensive history - 9 Superbowls between them, it is interesting that they had not faced off in the postseason until the 90s.  But then they met 5 out of 7 years, with the 49ers getting the short end of the stick in painful fashion.  TO's game-winning endzone catch was cathartic for 9er fans because it ended a 3 year streak of season-ending losses to GB, but the truth is the Packers have won 2 Superbowls since the 49ers last hoisted the trophy.

Last season, we were poised for a conference championship showdown with the 15-1 Packers before the Saints upended them prematurely.  Though we beat the Pack 30-22 in Lambeau to open this season, they are clearly a much improved and healthier team now.

To win, we need to take advantage of playing at home, overwhelm their porous offensive line, control the clock, avoid penalties in the secondary and make our field goals.  Can Kaepernick, in just his 8th start, beat the reigning NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers?

Prediction: 49ers 23 - Packers 20

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