Kurtenbach: The 49ers’ advantage over the Packers is too big to ignore

Kurtenbach: The 49ers’ advantage over the Packers is too big to ignore

Do you want to know why everyone and their uncle are picking the 49ers to beat the Packers on Saturday?

Why all three Bay Area News Group Niners writers picked San Francisco to blow out the Pack?

It’s quite simple, really: It’s the players.

The Niners are as talented as any team in the NFL — as any team in recent league history. They truly boast an abundance — perhaps a preponderance — of top-end players.

And, well, the Packers do not.

This isn’t to denigrate Green Bay. The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL. They’re a year (or two) early — they shouldn’t even be in a position to play the Niners in a Divisional Round game.

Before big games, I have always found it helpful to rank out the 15 best players on the field — it oftentimes (but not always) helps establish the margin.

In this game, the Niners are between a 9- and 10-point favorite.

Sure enough, out of the top 15 players, they have 10 — at least by my count — and nine of the top 10.

And perhaps more importantly, they have the better quarterback.

That’s a massive advantage, one I expect to see reflected in the final score on Saturday.

Here are my rankings. Let me know how wrong I am: [email protected]

1. Christian McCaffrey

This will be the CMC postseason. The 49ers might trust their quarterback, but that won’t stop Kyle Shanahan from leaning on the NFL’s best running back over three games for the next four weeks.

2. Trent Williams

When in doubt, go left. That’s where Trent Williams, the NFL’s best left tackle, lives. Tasked with leading the run game and protecting Brock Purdy’s blindside, he’s vital to the Niners’ title push.

3. Deebo Samuel

Saturday could be a big game for Samuel, whose game-breaking ability was enough to almost singlehandedly carry the 49ers in playoffs past.

4. Nick Bosa

After a slow start, he’s come on strong in recent weeks, creating a serious impact despite constant holds and double-teams.

5. Brock Purdy

Yes, over Jordan Love. The guy from Iowa State can move around a bit and make off-schedule plays, too. And while he lacks the arm talent of Love, he more than makes up for it with field vision and timing. Pretend this guy isn’t one of the NFL’s best at your peril.

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6. Jordan Love

Matt LaFleur has bought into Love, and Love has bought into LaFleur, and the two are putting together something impressive in Green Bay. Why Love isn’t considered a “system quarterback” like Purdy is beyond me — the systems are highly similar — but that’s a question to ask this offseason, which for the Packers will start Sunday.

7. George Kittle

The NFL’s best tight end, an elite blocker and pass catcher, the Niners can never quite get the ball in his hands as much as he deserves — but he makes great things happen when they do.

8. Fred Warner

We gotta be honest: Warner has slipped a bit in recent weeks. But a few weeks off could do wonders for his game, which, when at its best, is better than anyone else at the linebacker position. That’s bad news for a Packers team that has gotten fat on poor linebackers in recent weeks.

9. Brandon Aiyuk

He’d be the No. 1 receiver and one of the most talked about players in the NFL if he played for any other team. He’s a bit of an afterthought with the Niners, despite his incredible connection with Purdy and his absurd 17.9 yards per catch this season on 75 receptions. He’ll have at least one monster game this postseason.

10. Charvarius Ward

The Pro Bowl cornerback is at his best when he lines up, snap after snap, against the opposition’s No. 1. His physicality makes him a nightmare matchup.

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11. Rashan Gary

When he’s at his best, he’s an absolute handful. His bull rush could be a big problem for Colton McKivitz on Saturday.

12. Aaron Jones

The do-it-all running back might be past his best days, but he’s still a dynamic weapon instrumental to Love’s rapid ascent. His pass protection is dramatically underrated outside Wisconsin.

13. Javon Hargrave

Do you know what messes up a quarterback who likes to throw off his back foot? Interior pressure. Hargrave will be the key to the Niners turning Love over on Saturday.

14. Kenny Clark

It wasn’t the best season for the big man out of UCLA, but he’ll have a marked advantage over the Niners’ interior offensive line on Saturday. This is one area the Packers must win to make this game close.

15. Christian Watson

A game-breaker of the highest order, the Packers receiver might not be refined, but you can’t teach some of the thing he can do on the field.