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Why an extra home playoff game means more to the 49ers

The home and road splits for the Niners this season are eye-opening. San Francisco morphs into juggernauts when they play at Levi’s Stadium.

It goes without saying that getting the highest seed possible heading into the playoffs is every team’s goal. But, for the 49ers, it might mean even more than it does for other teams.

As pointed out by Michelle Magdziuk on today’s Gold Diggers podcast, San Francisco has been a much different team at home than they have away from Levi’s Stadium. Inside the friendly confines, the Niners have outscored opponents by 94 points. On the road, they’ve outscored opponents by 54 points. That’s still excellent, of course, but not nearly as impressive as when they’re at Levi’s.

The home/road difference is even more exaggerated when you look at turnovers. At home, the 49ers have a +12 turnover differential. On the road, that number craters to -3. Out of the eight games San Francisco has played away from Levi’s Stadium, they have won the turnover battle in just three of them - and one of those games came on a neutral field in Mexico City against the Cardinals.

Even more perplexing is that none of those games has come against a team with a winning record. So not only are the 49ers turning the ball over more often on the road, but they’re also doing it against bad teams.

Other than injuries, the Niners’ biggest problems are turnovers under Kyle Shanahan. Coming into the season, the team was -39 in turnover differential in the Shanahan era. There has only been one year under Kyle that the team has finished with a positive turnover differential, and that was when they went to the Super Bowl in 2019 (+4).

Coincidentally, they also didn’t have to go on the road in the playoffs that season. Right now, the 49ers sit at +9 for 2022, so barring the worst performance we’ve ever seen against the Cardinals, they should finish in the green in that area again this year.

Clearly, if the Niners want the best chance to win their sixth Super Bowl, they need to be the highest seed possible going into the playoffs. While the one seed might be unlikely, a win Sunday secures the second seed and leaves open the possibility of an all-Levi’s playoff run to the Super Bowl. Remember, both number-one seeds last year lost in the Divisional Round (thanks in part to San Francisco’s win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau).

It’s possible that we’re getting ahead of ourselves, considering that the playoffs haven’t even started yet, but this is just something to keep in mind before the second season begins a week from now.

Other topics in today’s show

Michelle is drinking a mimosa, and she doesn’t know why (:36)

DeMeco Ryans calls out his defense this week (3:48)

Last week was the perfect week for Brock Purdy (6:16)

Will you start to worry about the defense if they falter this week? (11:32)

Kyle Shanahan is now the betting favorite for Coach of the Year (15:38)

Why we don’t want to see the Packers get the 7th seed (23:33)

Why a Giants upset of the Vikings in the first round would be bad for the 49ers (27:44)

One big difference in the Niners at home vs. on the road (29:58)

Will Brock Purdy get to check another box on his QB resume this week? (30:53)

The most likely first-round playoff upset (32:36)

Michelle jinxes the 49ers (36:01)