Niners appear to have the upper hand

GREEN BAY, Wis. — There is no need for the 49ers to fear the cold, fret about numbest-case scenarios, or yelp and quake before they ever arrive at Lambeau Field.

If they're the team they think they are, the frigid weather for today's wild-card round game at Green Bay should be a Siberian side note.

It's just a problem to solve — for both teams — and definitely not the reason to win or lose. Or lose faith.

Because the 49ers, more than any team in the NFL, are built to play through all conditions, especially the worst ones.

"I don't care," receiver Anquan Boldin said when asked about the expected frosty weather for today's game against the Packers.

"They play in the same weather we play in. So it doesn't matter."

Will it be painfully, potentially historically cold for this game?

Yes, it seems so, with the latest forecasts hovering around zero for the afternoon kickoff time and heading lower into the icy night.

But if the freezing air severely limits the passing attack ... that hurts Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers far more than the 49ers' balanced offense.

Even if the Lambeau field gets choppy and slick, the 49ers' defensive players are still faster and stronger, and they have the edge over Green Bay in almost every match up.

If the 49ers have been good enough to beat the Packers three times in the past two seasons — including last season's blowout playoff victory — then no amount of arctic blast should change that.

That's presuming the 49ers don't get psyched out by the weather.

That's up to coach Jim Harbaugh, and he can handle this, as he demonstrated again Friday when he finally addressed the cold-weather issue publicly.

First, Harbaugh said, the best way to prepare for extreme cold is to dress warmly and make sure you bring the right equipment.

"And then," Harbaugh said, warming to the question, "just start playing.

"The heart rate ramps up, the hot blood races to the arteries, to the vessels, to the capillaries, and they distribute it to the fingers and the toes.

"In an athlete the age and the health of these guys, the hot blood will be racing around."

A good defense is good wherever it plays. Offenses that don't turn it over usually don't get overwhelmed in hostile stadiums.

The 49ers once again rank as one of the top four or five defenses in every category, and their offense turned it over only 18 times, fewest in the league.

So ... this is not just a soft West Coast team. But we all know that.

When the 49ers are the better team, the 49ers almost always win, whatever conditions at kickoff.

Point of fact: The 49ers are 18-7 on the road in the Harbaugh tenure, including 1-0 on the road in the playoffs (last season's NFC Championship game victory in Atlanta).

The 49ers have struggled in Seattle, but that's against a team equal in talent, and that rivalry is more about football matchups and unbelievable noise.

Sunday's game is against a team with lesser talent, and it'll be too cold in Lambeau to make a Seattle-style racket.

The 49ers, who were 6-2 on the road this regular season, have set themselves up so they don't need a superlative game out of quarterback Colin Kaepernick or anybody else to win this game.

The superlatives will probably be necessary in later rounds, mostly from Kaepernick, but they won't be needed against the 8-7-1 Packers.

And, oh, by the way, Green Bay has won only three of its past seven playoff games at Lambeau.

It also was the 25th-ranked defense in total yards allowed this regular season, 25th against the run, tied for 24th points allowed per game.

The 49ers are built to win this game — better built for it, by far, than Green Bay is, even at Lambeau.

"I think on the road we love the challenge of just going into someone else's house and beating them," inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman said.

If they win this game, the 49ers would still have a brutal potential schedule ahead — a trip to either Seattle or Carolina followed possibly by another trip for the NFC title game.

But winning multiple road playoff games has been done just as recently as last season by Baltimore on its way to the title last season.

"I don't see why we can't," said Boldin, a member of that Ravens team. "I think we're suited perfectly — offensively, defensively, special teams ...

"I feel we're more than ready to make a run."

However long this run lasts, it'll start on a glacier, and I don't think the 49ers will have many problems at all.

Prediction: 49ers, 24-13.


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