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49ers Moving Forward: 5 Games Remain, 4 NFC West Showdowns

The 49ers shouldn't be hanging their heads too low after last Thursday night's 16-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, they should be looking forward to what's in store for them while focusing on finishing strong. At 9-2, San Francisco has 5 games remaining on the 2011 regular season schedule; 4 games are against divisional opponents.

12/04 - vs. St. Louis

Commentary: This is a very winnable game at home. The 49ers are coming off a long weeks rest and gameplanning for an inferior Rams team. The 49ers should be able to put this one in the win column. Even though the Rams were a heavy favorite before the season started, they have struggled mightily this season.

12/11 - @ Arizona

Commentary: San Francisco didn't exactly blow out Arizona when they faced them, but they won convincingly at home, 23-7. The 49ers have been good on the road this year and they aren't traveling far for this one. The 49ers good enough to and should sweep the NFC West this year.

12/19 - vs. Pittsburgh

Commentary: Arguably the one game remaining on 49ers fans' minds is this one against Pittsburgh. Looking at the backend of the schedule, I predicted the 49ers would lose only one of the two games between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. And with this game being at home, I think the 49ers have a good chance to secure a win against the visiting Steelers.

12/24 - @ Seattle

Commentary: Win or lose against the Steelers, I think the 49ers should be able to go on the road and bring the fight to the Seahawks. The Seahawks have beat a couple real good teams this year in the Giants and Ravens but San Francisco is familiar with Seattle. Besides, they know how important divisional games are; especially on the road.

1/01 - @ St. Louis

Commentary: It's going to be hard for the Rams to not get swept by the 49ers this season. They are in shambles and with likely no playoff shot by week 17, they may not be playing with much heart. Meanwhile, the Niners will either be resting players or keeping their starters in to boost their confidence before the playoffs start.

If San Francisco is going to lose any of these games, I believe they would lose two games at most -- still good enough for playoff berth. Those games would be when the Steelers come to town, where their receivers, especially Mike Wallace, may present match-up problems. The other game the 49ers could have a loss would be the last game of the season at St. Louis.

If this happens, it's because Colin Kaepernick is taking most of the reps that game. If the 49ers win these next 4 games and are at 13-2, I wouldn't be surpised if Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Carlos Rogers, Vernon Davis and/or a combination of others were watching from the sideline in St. Louis.

If I had to predict how San Francisco finishes, I would say 13-3. It allows for one of the two possible losing scenarios I suggested and seems reasonable. For the record, I think the 49ers are capable of finishing 14-2 and because Jim Harbaugh is the competitor that he is, I think 14-2 is a very real possibility.

Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80