NFL

49ers looking to secure first round bye in playoffs

12/18/12 in NFL   |   IvanRogers   |   1352 respect

With their impressive 41-34 win Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) clinched a playoffs berth that was almost hampered by a late comeback by the New England Patriots (10-4). But what came out of that remarkable performance also projected the San Francisco 49ers as the team to beat in any playoffs run.
 
The New England Patriots’ resilience and San Francisco 49ers’ resilience struck a chord with many in playoffs contending circles. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh acknowledged that Sunday night’s showing boasted additional qualities setting off a playoffs scenario.
 
“It was obvious both teams desperately wanted to win the game,” Jim Harbaugh said. “It felt like both teams wanted to prove they were the better team.”
 
Jim Harbaugh followed that claim with proof that both the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots delivered an onset of hard hits that lasted throughout the game.
 
“Both teams really wanted it, to show that they were the better team,” Jim Harbaugh stated. “It was a great game. It was an exciting game. Very competitive.”
 
With Sunday’s win over the New England Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers gained a considerable margin (1 ½ games) over the Seattle Seahawks (who have two games left) in the battle for the NFC West title.
 
However, Sunday’s game held increased significance in the San Francisco 49ers’ efforts to land among the top two seeds in the NFC playoffs. The achievement offers the benefits of first-round byes and home-field advantage. Currently, the San Francisco 49ers rank as the No.2 seed in the Conference.
 
Jim Harbaugh is taking the task ahead with all the proper seriousness and attention. On the San Francisco 49ers’ trip back to the Bay Area Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff were immersed in reviewing tapes to determine their scheme against the Seattle Seahawks (9-5) this Sunday. A take back of blinding 28- point comeback by the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers’ determination to persevere under the most difficult circumstances led him to believe that the 49ers are playoffs material.
 
“The pressure to perform is great in this league, at this level.  I credit that to we have excellent players who are kind of in the prime of their career,” Jim Harbaugh said. “They’re at the experienced height, but they’re young, and they’ve been in those situations. They’re young, experienced and kind of right in their prime.”
 
The San Francisco 49ers almost took a bullet in that progress as defensive end Justin Smith exited the third quarter with an unspecified elbow/arm injury was unable to finish the game. Justin Smith underwent an MRI exam on Monday but the San Francisco 49ers’ didn’t release the results. Jim Harbaugh is still uncertain if Justin Smith will play against the Seattle Seahawks, but his clearance for practice Tuesday offers an optimistic outlook to the situation as the team continues monitoring him over the next few days.
 
Justin Smith’s presence is fundamental to the San Francisco 49ers’ defense which seemingly struggled after he initially left at 31-10 and attempted a return at 31-17. The San Francisco 49ers’ defense was pounded by the New England Patriots after Justin Smith’s exit as the already ineffective 49ers’ offense stooped further under pressure.
 
Besides Justin Smith is also integral to San Francisco 49ers’ pass rush. The cross pattern featuring Justin Smith and Aldon Smith on the right side of the defense also sets them up for incredible sacks.
 
Justin Smith has started 185 consecutive games, while recording 66 tackles along with 3 ½ sacks this season.
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