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Golden Nuggets: Go Dolphins, Giants, and Vikings

Your daily San Francisco 49ers news for Wednesday, December 20th, 2023

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How 49ers could clinch NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed on Christmas Day

“Should the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys both lose on Christmas Eve, and the 10-4 Philadelphia Eagles fall to the New York Giants on Christmas Day, the 11-3 49ers would enter their Christmas Night showdown with the 11-3 Baltimore Ravens at Levi’s Stadium needing a win to claim the NFC prize.

The Cowboys (10-4) are coming off a 31-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills and will head to Miami to face an explosive Dolphins team that’s vying for the AFC’s top playoff seed and is coached by former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel.

The Lions (10-4) will travel to Minnesota for an NFC North clash with a scrappy Vikings team quarterbacked by ex-49er Nick Mullens. After Mullens delivered some great performances in his extended run as San Francisco’s starting QB in 2018, he again has the opportunity to endear himself to the Faithful by helping the 49ers secure the No. 1 seed.”

Lynch acknowledges 49ers must do better job tackling vs. Ravens

“We come at people and we play aggressively,” Lynch said, “but we always play intelligently and to our help, to our leverage. The last three weeks we’ve gotten a little out of whack in terms of that.”

The 49ers have missed 42 tackles over the past three games, according to Pro Football Focus. They missed 16 tackles on Sunday, as the Arizona Cardinals rushed for 234 yards in the 49ers’ 45-29 division-clinching victory.

Thompson: Is this 49ers offense better than 1994’s Super Bowl champs? Here’s what the numbers say (paywall)

“The 2023 edition is on pace to score more points in a season than any team in franchise history. The current record is 505 points by the 1994 offense. These 49ers would have the added benefit of an extra game. But if they score 81 points over the next two weeks, they can break the franchise mark in 16 games. And only one touchdown this season has come from the defense, compared with six non-offense scores in 1994.”

49ers mailbag: Who’s your team MVP? In-house replacement for Steve Wilks? (paywall)

“A guy who might be intriguing is Nick Sorensen. His title this year is Defensive Passing Game Specialist/Nickels. Last year he worked with the linebackers and he’s been running the 49ers’ takeaways meeting called “The Ball” in recent years. That is, he’s had his hand in a lot of areas on defense and has good command of its various facets.

The 49ers also might consider one of the more senior assistants Johnny Holland or Kocurek if they wanted the job. They haven’t in the past.”

49ers overreactions: Will Brown’s play force team to trade Hufanga?

“After right tackle Colton McKivitz struggled in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt, there were calls for him to get benched.

We could understand the concerns from outside the building, but based on what we saw and knew, there seemed to be little doubt that McKivitz was the best option for the job to replace Mike McGlinchey and he’d be all right.

We do not know where the 49ers rank among offensive lines — or what measures are used to grade offensive lines — but the guys up front have proven themselves over and over this season.

The 49ers’ O-line won the head-to-head battle against the Philadelphia Eagles’ vaunted defensive line. The line seems to be improving on a weekly basis.

They have provided Purdy with the necessary protection to put together the best season of any quarterback in the NFL this season.

And they have created enough space to help McCaffrey be the most productive running back in the league.

So hats off to McKivitz, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Jon Feliciano and some dude named Trent Williams for rounding into a unit that forms one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.”