In a season where anything can happen, the 49ers are setup for a long run as a wildcard team. The biggest reason is how they're peaking at the right point with a six game winning streak entering the postseason.
It doesn't matter where they're playing as the defense has remained consistently great throughout the season. Even in a losing effort, the defense has been the stronghold where they've played well enough to win. Fourth-year linebacker NaVorro Bowman has been a large force in the interior of the defense from commanding everyone their roles. Bowman had to take over as the "general" on defense with an injury to Patrick Willis in Week 4, but excelled with flying colors.
It's important how the team is healthy at the right time of the year. While Carlos Rogers is injured, the team has depth at all positions without being forced to promote a practice squad player.
"For the most part we're healthy and I think that's the big thing," Bowman said on December 19. "We know we can play, we know can stop offenses and running backs and things like that. My big thing now is that we're healthy at the end the month of December and we're able to play at 100 percent level and give it all that we have and not really have any excuses. We execute like no other defense, and when we have all our guys it will just be even better."
The only significant injury this season on defense was the loss of Ian Williams in Week 2 after he was tripped by Seahawks OL J.R. Sweezy. Williams was placed on the injured reserve with an ankle injury and Glenn Dorsey took his spot as the team's nose tackle.
Aldon Smith served an indefinite suspension after being arrested for a DUI right before Week 3's game against the Indianapolis Colts. While Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier rotated in his place, Ahmad Brooks picked up the slack as a pass rusher and the 49ers went on a five game winning streak without Smith.
If Carlos Rogers is out, the 49ers will be ready with Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock in place. The coaching staff also has faith in Eric Wright at the nickel cornerback position, who played adequately when Brown was out.
History is also on the 49ers side as Jim Harbaugh hasn't lost to the Green Bay Packers nor has he been 0-1 in the postseason. In fact, the NFC West has not been winless in the playoffs with the exception of the 2003 season since the 2002 realignment. The division champion Rams lost to the Panthers and wild card Seahawks lost to the Packers. In 2004, the Rams beat the division winning Seahawks in the wild card round of the playoffs.
The last three Super Bowl winners have won the maximum four games in the postseason to win the ultimate prize in football. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in 2010 won as a wildcard team with three consecutive road wins before winning Super Bowl XLV. The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens were both the No. 4 seeds before they won Super Bowl XLVI and XLVII, respectively.
While the weather will be a challenge in Green Bay, Harbaugh said he isn't worried about who the opponent is or where the game is played at. He is ready to focus his team on what they can do to control their fate in what could be a deep postseason run.
"[Players and] coaches, don’t control who you play, don’t control where you play [or] when you play," Harbaugh said on December 27. "The thing you control is how you play. We have complete control over that.”