No resting if 49ers want to climb higher in NFC playoff standings

The 49ers won’t get a chance to rest their starters if their goal is to ultimately climb higher than the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs.

San Francisco is now a game behind the Vikings for the No. 2 seed, and two games behind the Eagles for the No. 1 seed (more on this later).

Minnesota’s win over the Giants on Saturday made it impossible for the 49ers to have a shot at resting their starters in the final weekend, assuming they badly want the No. 2 seed.

The 49ers could conceivably lose one of their next two and still get that second seed, but it would require the Vikings to lose both of their games. Since San Francisco will be playing at the same time as Minnesota the last two weeks, they won’t have any kind of inside track on their place in the standings going into a game.

The best move for them is to simply win their next two, which likely means they won’t rest their starters at all. They may not rush Deebo Samuel or Elijah Mitchell back from injury, but it’s unlikely they’ll sit players like Nick Bosa or George Kittle leading up to the wild card round.

If the 49ers do lose Sunday in Las Vegas and the Vikings knock off the Saints, it would eliminate San Francisco’s chances to move up. At that point they could conceivably rest a handful of players since they’re locked into the No. 3 seed.

So, about the top seed.

Philadelphia left the door just slightly cracked when they lost to the Cowboys. The Eagles still need to win just one of their final two games to clinch the top spot, but injuries to their starting QB and on the offensive front are a problem.

Again, the 49ers would need to win out. A loss eliminates them from the No. 1 race. They also need Philly to lose out and Minnesota to split their last two games.

Who San Francisco plays is still way up in the air, but they’ll have a chance to affect who they see in their first postseason game if they’re able to move up on in these last couple weeks.

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Story originally appeared on Niners Wire