Monday’s Christmas Day matchup with the Baltimore Ravens feels like a Super Bowl preview. Two 11-3 teams meeting this late in the season have to illicit those feelings. Both teams are fighting for the number one seed in their conference and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The question becomes: Can the 49ers afford to rest any players?
The bye week is critical for the 49ers, and any other team for that matter, to get players to full health for the playoff run. If the 49ers fall on Christmas Day, they are still in the driver’s seat for the number one seed. Two more victories against Washington and Los Angeles will secure home field for the 49ers.
The 49ers have been without Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave. Both players will be vital and instrumental to the team’s success. Kyle Shanahan is holding out hope that both can play on Monday, but there is a possibility their injuries linger regardless of playing status.
Also, there is always the chance of new injuries. Deommodore Lenoir suffered an injury Sunday in Arizona. At this point in the season, no player is “fully healthy.” I see the argument for the 49ers resting and taking care of their players if the number one seed is locked up.
On the flip side, too much rest can be a detriment. There is a fine line to walk when giving players that much time off. The 49ers would have the wild card round off, but what if certain players play in their first game in the divisional round? There is the idea of wanting your players to be sharp heading into the biggest game of the season.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. I don’t envy the decision-maker in this situation.
First things first, secure the number one seed. How the team proceeds to rest their players is the next chore.
In NFL terms, this feels like “first-world problems,” but for the 49ers, it is a very real conversation and decision.
What do you think? Do you fall into the category of rest or player sharpness and rhythm? Let us hear you in the comments.