Matt & Mindi: Bye allows 49ers to get healthy
UPDATE: (6:07 p.m.) The NFL has announced the 49ers will host their divisional round playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 5:00 PST. Their opponent is yet to be determined.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers were gathered in their Candlestick Park locker room watching the final minutes of the Green Bay-Minnesota game.
After the 49ers clinched their second straight NFC West title with a 27-13 victory over the woeful Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers turned their attention to the TV sets in the locker room. And the players and staff erupted in cheers when the Vikings earned a playoff berth and in the process knocked the Packers from the No. 2 seed in the playoffs behind the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons.
The 49ers moved into the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with the Vikings' 37-34 victory on Blair Walsh's 29-yard field goal as time expired.
"Big ups to the Vikings for doing that and winning," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "For us, it's big. It gives us a chance to get healthier in areas and hopefully get one of our marquee guys back, Justin (Smith)."
With a first-round bye, the All-Pro defensive tackle will have a full month off before trying to return to action from a partially torn left triceps tendon in his left arm. Smith sustained the injury in the third quarter of the 49ers' Dec. 16 game at the New England Patriots. He missed the final 2 1/2 games of the season. Smith will require offseason surgery, but he is hoping to get strong enough to contribute in the playoffs.
"He's feeling better and we also know that any time you have an injury, or going through something, that the more time you have to rehab and the more time you have to heal, the better off you'll be," Willis said. "He's a big guy for us, a marquee guy for us. And we love having him out here with us. And hopefully he'll be able to be out there with us when it's time to play a game."
The 49ers will host their divisional game on Saturday, Jan. 12th at 5:00 p.m. PST at Candlestick Park. If the Packers beat the Vikings in the wild-card round at Lambeau Field next week, Green Bay will play the 49ers. Otherwise, the 49ers would play host to the winner of the other playoff game, featuring the Seattle Seahawks at the winner of Sunday night's Dallas-Washington game.