Maiocco Overreactions

49ers overreactions: Is D-line overrated this season?

NBC Universal, Inc. 49ers insider Matt Maiocco shares why the Niners earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC ahead of the NFL playoffs was vitally important on this edition of “49ers Overreactions.”

This might be the most difficult week of the season for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and his coaching staff. And general manager John Lynch will be involved in the decision-making, too.

Sure, there are a lot of players the 49ers would like to rest in Week 18. But it’s a balancing act.

Shanahan said on Monday there are five players who are not likely to be in uniform due to injuries: Running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end Ross Dwelley, defensive tackle Arik Armstead, cornerback Ambry Thomas and safety Ji’Ayir Brown.

Also, receiver Jauan Jennings and tackle Jaylon Moore remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

The 49ers can elevate two players from the practice squad and have a total of seven players inactive for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brock Purdy, Trent Williams, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Javon Hargrave, Nick Bosa and Fred Warner should be in uniform, but the backups likely will take most of the playing time.

The 49ers need to do as much as possible to reduce the risk of injury to their key players with their first playoff game set for Jan. 20 or 21.

San Francisco wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 12-4 record. Now, the trick for the 49ers is remaining sharp for the postseason.

Thankfully, our followers on Facebook are in playoff form with this edition of 49ers overreactions:

This first round bye and three weeks to rest key players is essential for a Super Bowl run! They look tired! (Brian A.)

Overreaction? No.

As important as it was for the 49ers to secure home-field advantage in the playoffs, the bigger perk for being the No. 1 seed is the bye week.

The past two weeks, the 49ers looked as if they needed to refresh before opening the playoffs.

The five turnovers aside, the 49ers did not look all that great on Christmas night against the Ravens.

The Ravens looked faster, more physical and more aggressive against the 49ers. Right now, the Ravens are the best team in football. And it’s not even close.

The 49ers needed the break to get some guys healthy and get energized for the NFL playoffs.

We were of the opinion that if the 49ers did not finish atop the NFC, they would not be able to win three playoff games in three weeks to advance to the Super Bowl.

Now, the 49ers are set up well for their postseason push.

This team is the beginning of the next Super Bowl winning dynasty (Paul S.)

Overreaction? Yes.

We don’t think the 49ers are going away any time soon, but creating an NFL dynasty is very difficult.

The 49ers have made it to the final four in three of the past four seasons, and they have not been able to close the deal. And, of course, winning it all will not be easy this season, either.

But the 49ers are in a good position with Shanahan and Purdy working so well together.

We agree that Purdy’s presence assures the 49ers of being in a great spot for a while. He is stuck playing under his rookie contract through next season.

So instead of a contract that would pay him in excess of $40 million a season, Purdy is on the books next year for a little over a million.

That means the 49ers should have no problem keeping the roster largely intact with a highly paid supporting cast.

Of course, that will not be so easy to accomplish once Purdy’s contract puts him in line with some of the other top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Our D-Line has been, and is overrated. (Mark W.)

Overreaction? No.

The 49ers’ defensive line — when everyone is available — is very solid.

But the line is not a dominating force, period. And it seems to be mediocre when a piece or two are missing.

Bosa is a star. Hargrave is very, very good. Armstead gives the 49ers a lot as a three-down player. The 49ers’ run defense has struggled with Armstead out of action. His status for the postseason is uncertain.

The 49ers have a rotation of D-linemen, including edge rusher Chase Young. The 49ers acquired him in a trade from Washington to turn up the heat as a pass-rusher. He has 2.5 sacks in eight games.

Young’s time with the 49ers will be measured by how well he performs in the postseason.

The 49ers need their pass rush to become more of a factor when they face some of the better quarterbacks in the postseason.

Jauan Jennings is more important than what we give credit for. (Adam S.)

Overreaction? No.

Clearly, you need to start giving Jennings more credit.

Jennings is a solid No. 3 receiver behind Brandon Aiyuk and Samuel. And there is a huge drop-off after Jennings. In fact, any of the other receivers the 49ers put out there are threats in the passing game.

Jennings had a really good season last year, and his numbers have fallen off a bit. He has 19 catches for 265 yards and one touchdown in 13 games.

But Jennings' contributions are not measured in stats alone.

In addition to being a reliable third-down option, Jennings is also a really good blocker. He provides a lot to the team, and his absence has been noticeable over the past two weeks as he remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Kyle Shanahan's red zone offense stinks (Frank S.)

Overreaction? Yes.

That’s easy.

Actually, the 49ers have the best red-zone offense in the NFL. They scored touchdowns on 65.6 percent of the time they've gotten inside the opponents’ 20-yard line up to this point.

In other words, no team has done it better.

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