I'm sure someone else has already stated what I'm about to say, but I was pulling for a Seattle win (in truth I had no doubt) no matter how dirty it makes me feel. The division is lost and has been lost for more than two weeks. What the 49ers need to shoot for is reclaiming the number 5 seed. The saints losing puts us within a game of the saints and panthers. And with those teams playing each other twice, there is a good chance one of them gets at least two more losses on the season.
We need that 5th seed, and we need it badly. It doesn't make much difference on the wild card round, as who we play is more dependent on which division leader can show sustained consistency. As the 5 seed I'm hoping we play Dallas, as I believe Detroit's defense is the more dangerous unit. So what Im hoping for (not what I think will happen) is the following:
Seattle #1 (bye)
Saints #2 (bye) (though I think this will be Carolina)
49ers #5 (though I think this will be the Saints)
Carolina #6 (though I think this will be Arizona or Philadelphia)
What I'm hoping for is to play Dallas in the wild card round, then meet the Saints in the division round. Some of you might be scratching your head. Why the Saints and not Carolina? Because I truly believe we can go on the road and beat the Saints. I actually bet money on our regular season game with them. That's how confident I was that we could beat them, and nothing that happened in that game changed my mind. I also recognize that we have never played well against Carolina. In their very short history in the league, they have pretty much dominated us. And our team matches up better offensively and defensively against the Saints than they do against Carolina.
I see Carolina over Detroit, and that has us going to the Saints, and Carolina off to Seattle. We beat the Saints on the road, Carolina upsets Seattle on the road. That puts the NFC title game at the Stick for the final game ever to be played on that historic field. We defeat Carolina and off to the Super Bowl we go, where I see us defeating Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
...............sound too good to be true? Hahahahahahaha.......that's because it is too good to be true.
Now just because I don't see much possibility in this team getting very far in the playoffs if we are able to make it to the big dance, that doesn't mean it's impossible to pull off the upset over the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. They might be my Super Bowl pick and I picked them before the season to win the division, but they aren't invincible. So what are my keys to victory:
1. We must get our running game on track. This will be difficult because we will most certainly be missing Staley, and it's possible Iupati may also be out another week. And let's be honest, Seattle has dominated us up front the last two games, and we had a fully healthy OL in those games. But it is critical we support CK7 with a running game, give our defense rest, and keep Wilson off the field.
2. We need not only to win the turnover margin, our defense must come up big on 1st down making it easier to come up big on 3rd down. This game will not be won by our offense. This is a game that we have to turn into trench warfare; we need a grind it out low scoring game. Our defensive playmakers have to make more big plays than their offensive stars.
3. What we need more than anything from our offense are sustained drives, in which we take a few successful shots down the field that result in points. We aren't going to score a lot of points, but our defensive play shouldn't make that necessary. We just want to keep our defense fresh and Wilson off the field.
4. Everyone on special teams must repeat this mantra: "First and foremost, do no harm". We can't hurt our offense or our defense with poor special teams play. A low scoring game is usually a game of field position and turnovers, both of which can be won or lost via special teams. Simply put, do your job.
5. Play with passion but NOT emotion. Passion can be sustained, emotion usually wanes. Passion can help increase your focus, emotion usually takes away from your focus. We do not want to play out of control, the way the rams played against us. We must maintain poise, because the Seahawks in the last two games against us have been successful in getting our players to take the bait.
Though I don't think we will win this game, there is still much to be gained from this game win or lose. What I really want to see transpire is for the team to maintain its composure and not to implode mentally. That means we cannot allow ourselves to be physically dominated, we can't walk away from this game knowing we beat ourselves with penalties and mental errors, and CK7 needs to finish the game feeling good about his play. Believe it or not, the Seattle Seahawks believe they have our number, and though I don't think there is a 49er player that believes that, if you continue to get dominated by them, that sentiment is bound to begin to creep into a teams psyche.