What 'one weakness' can haunt 49ers defense in playoffs, per Greg Papa

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Papa cites 'one weakness' that can haunt 49ers in playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

No NFL team has figured out how to stop the 49ers over the past 10 games, but the playoffs are a completely different beast.

And as San Francisco prepares for its first postseason matchup against its divisional rival Seattle Seahawks on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, 49ers radio play-by-play commentator Greg Papa noted one weakness that could end up haunting them.

“If there’s one weakness of the 49ers’ defense, [it’s] between the tackles,” Papa said on the latest episode of "49ers Talk.” “You would want to run on the 49ers right in the middle of the defense.”

Arik Armstead’s a good run player but he’s big, so he can always get low pad level. Javon Kinlaw has had an issue with playing high. Look at the touchdown [the] Arizona [Cardinals] scored, back-to-back plays, they ran it right down to the 1, and then they ran it in the end zone.”

While the 49ers were able to stay on top of the Cardinals in the regular-season finale last week, Papa thinks it could be an issue against Pete Carroll and the Seahawks in the wild-card game.

But San Francisco is about as healthy as it could possibly be entering the postseason.

Linebackers Dre Greenlaw (back) and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (neck), offensive lineman Aaron Banks (ankle/knee) and defensive lineman Kevin Givens (knee) were all cleared to play on Saturday.

Still, if the 49ers can't tighten up in the middle, Papa fears how things could unfold if the 49ers make a deep playoff run.

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“Javon off the snap, he gets off high, they just push him out of there," Papa said. "[The Seahawks are] pulling their guards, Damien Lewis, Gabe Jackson, that’s why they’re scouting the injury report on Kevin Givens, it is so encouraging to get him back. You can move some other people inside.

"I think [Carroll] is going to run more between the tackles, and that’s an area to keep an eye on as we progress in the playoffs. The 49ers' defensive tackles pass rush to compliment the edge guys, but also showing up in the run game and stopping the inside runs."

The 49ers hope to add onto their 10-game win streak as they enter the postseason and push to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay.

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