The 49ers have a couple of advantages over the Cowboys in the divisional round.
First, the 49ers have two extra days to prepare, in comparison to the Cowboys. Second, the 49ers will play both the wild-card game and the division-round game at home. The Cowboys had to travel to Tampa, home from Tampa, and then to San Francisco.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was asked by reporters on Wednesday whether the playoff schedule gives his team an edge.
“I think it can be an advantage, sometimes it can be a disadvantage,” Shanahan said. “I know the obvious ones, that you get less rest, less time to recover. I love having more time, but sometimes you feel like you can’t play those Thursday night games and you get to it and your team is just off the wall because they haven’t slowed down at all.
“And by this time, I don’t think it is about recovery. It’s about detail and it’s about executing and it’s about playing at a high level. Once you get to games, especially in the playoffs, that recovery, people forget about pretty quickly and just watching the Rams last year, they beat the Cardinals as good as anyone and then they flew all the way to Tampa and I think they were up 28-0 at halftime, so I don’t think that means anything.”
Despite Shanahan’s effort to downplay it, it’s definitely an advantage for the 49ers. And that’s fine. They earned it by winning the No. 2 seed. Circumstances helped, too, with the No. 3 seed losing to the No. 6 seed, and prompting the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed to play on Sunday after playing on Monday.
It’s an edge the Cowboys can overcome. But it’s an edge nevertheless.
And the Cowboys don’t mind it. Because they know it’s one of the realities of the critical relationship between the NFL and TV.