When I said a couple of weeks ago that I felt my beloved 49ers wouldn't make the playoffs 3 teams concerned me. The Seattle Seahawks, Tampa bay (because of physical game week before), and the cardinals who I thought would replace us as the last team in the playoffs. It was clear to me they were peaking, and it was also clear their defense was legit.
Now thankfully this 49er team showed real mettle and defeated the Seahawks, Tampa bay, and I think will defeat Atlanta tonight at the stick punching our ticket to the playoffs. But those peaking cardinals are sitting there in week 17, so the pressure is on to win tonight.
Im also on record as being in favor of shutting guys down for week 17 if we are able to clinch tonight. I originally thought the 5 seed would be critical but after the miller injury I came away thinking the best thing for this team would be rest and being healthy as possible. After this weeks multitude of injuries to Von miller, Steve smith, Long of the rams etc etc. I'm more convinced that playing our starters against a cardinals team that will be incredibly hyped up will be a mistake.
I believe if the game meant as much to us as it will for them then we could beat them, but it won't. Guys will be looking at the Seattle game score, and if that game is going settles way, the 5 seed won't be enough to match the cardinals who will be playing for respect as well as the outside chance Tampa can defeat the saints. One could argue they will also be looking at the scoreboard but I don't see it that way at all.
But I don't see harbaugh thinking or seeing this game the way I do. So a win by the 49ers in Arizona would tell me this 49er team has what it takes to go to Seattle and beat them in their house. It isn't that the cardinals are better than us. They are not, but they will be at home, they have a very good defense playing well, a capable offense (though limited by their QB), and they will have so much more to play for. We also will be coming off an emotional game (hopefully a win), on a short week, on the road.
Is it worth it to play our starters and go for the win? I say it isn't, but a win in my eyes would make more of a statement than the win against the Seahawks at the stick, because it would show absolute focus by the 49ers.