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49ers climb one spot to the 6-seed in the NFC playoff race

San Francisco swapped spots with Washington

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The discourse around these parts would be drastically different and far angrier had Jessie Bates caught a Jimmy Garoppolo pass that hit him in the hands toward the end of the fourth quarter.

Instead, an overtime victory saw Jimmy, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk do the heavy-lifting en route to a comeback victory over the Bengals. Sunday was a wild ride that saw San Francisco blow a 13-point fourth-quarter lead only to march down the field in the extra period to win.

The playoff picture in the NFC didn’t change much. Week 14 isn’t over as the Cardinals and Rams square off Monday night, but Arizona would remain in one of the top three spots, and Los Angeles will stay put at the 5-seed no matter what.

The four spots in the NFC seem like locks at this point. Even if the Cardinals and Rams swap spots at the top of the NFC West, it’s unlikely the top-5 seeds are any different. Arizona, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Los Angeles are making the playoffs, with seeds 2-4 hosting a playoff game in the first round.

Entering Sunday, the 49ers were the 7-seed. Washington lost to the Cowboys, and, with a 49er win, both teams swapped spots. If the playoffs began today, the Niners would travel to Tampa Bay. That would be the one team I wouldn’t want to face. The Bucs have tons of firepower on offense and are impossible to run the ball against. Plus, the NFL isn’t letting Tom Brady lose in the first round.

With the Falcons, Titans (likely without Derrick Henry), Texans, and Rams remaining, one would think San Francisco could finish the season 3-1 and with ten wins on the season. However, to climb to the 5-seed, the Rams would have to lose tonight, in Week 17 to the 49ers, and perhaps two more times against Seattle, Minnesota, and Baltimore, who might not have Lamar Jackson.

Washington holds the tiebreaker at 6-7, but the Vikings, Eagles, Falcons, and Saints all have the same record. So I think the 49ers are safe from the 7-seed. I know we said “if the playoffs started today,” but the way they’re rolling, I don’t see Tampa Bay losing any time soon. So it wouldn’t shock me if they ended up with the No. 1 seed.

I want Arizona again.