The 49ers looked ready to shellack the St. Louis Rams, but we all got to sweat it out a little bit as the 49ers nearly blew a 34-13 lead. The Rams got a pair of quick touchdowns late and were driving for a game-tying touchdown before they finally stalled out in 49ers territory.
Naturally this has led to some negative reactions about the 49ers performance today. My own thought on this is that the 49ers were in a position where it was oh so easy to lose focus. The 49ers had gone to several backups and the proverbial Freddie P. Soft was in the building for the final few minutes. That doesn't excuse a poor close to the game, but I think it is a valid reason for what we saw. You'd like to see 60 minutes of 110% performance, but sometimes it is easy to forget teams can sometimes step off the pedal even a little bit.
49ers VERY quietly walk into locker room. David Akers reacts: "Why's it so quiet man? We've got a bye week coming"— Cam Inman (@CamInman) January 1, 2012
The fact that 49ers won on the road and wrapped up the No. 2 seed AND felt like crap afterward says a lot about team has changed this season— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) January 1, 2012
As the 49ers look ahead to the coming playoff possibilities, the rest of the playoff picture is just about firmed up. The Lions lost and the Falcons are decimating the Bucs right now. If the Falcons hold on to win their game, the Lions will travel to the Superdome to face the Saints and the Falcons will travel to face the winner of tonight's Cowboys-Giants Sunday Night Football contest.
If the Saints defeat the Lions, they will travel to San Francisco in the divisional round. If the Saints lose their playoff opener, the 49ers would face the winner of Cowboys-Giants/Falcons. Any of these games would be tough battles, but for New Orleans in particular, there is a significant difference facing them at Candlestick versus facing them in the Superdome. They're a good team no matter what, but in the Superdome they become a great team and on the road that dynamic offense is just a bit more inconsistent. Sufficiently inconsistent to make them very beatable.