Justin Smith was out, and there's no doubt the 49ers are a different team on defense when he can't play. But that's part of the problem, not cause for celebration.
The 49ers are not healthy heading into the postseason, and there were a couple of serious casualties against the Seahawks in Week 16.
Vernon Davis was concussed early in the game and never returned. Mario Manningham injured his knee in the second half, and it looked serious. As well, cornerback Tarell Brown was injured in the first half (he did return later).
And don't even get me started about the way the 49ers abandoned the run early on against Seattle. Even when the game wasn't close to being decided, Greg Roman forgot Frank Gore even existed. That's not the way to help out a young quarterback against a brutal defense like the one Seattle features.
It's not the first time Roman has done this in 2012. Gore only had 12 carries against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 3, only eight against the New York Giants in Week 6 and only six carries in the team's Week 16 loss to the Seahawks.
Colin Kaepernick was visibly shaken against the Seahawks defense, and his struggles with clock management once again reared their ugly head on the road. At least twice, the young quarterback took delay-of-game penalties when he lost track of the clock.
Alex Smith would have been shaken too had he been subject to the same conditions. You cannot pass the ball every time against the Seahawks, and Roman should know that.
Another cause for concern for the 49ers is that Carlos Rogers has significantly regressed in 2012. He gets regularly beaten by quick receivers, and he has been a liability in the 49ers secondary this year, rather than the cornerstone player he was last season for the team.
And David Akers...
Akers had missed 10 field goals in 2012 before Sunday night, many of them crucial, and then this:
Red Bryant blocked the FG attempt after getting penetration vs. Joe Staley. Seahawks lead 21-0 after Sherman's 90-yard TD return.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) December 24, 2012
The 49ers have to get better, but the good news is that there's still time to get things turned around.
Hopefully, Justin Smith comes back healthy in the first round of the playoffs and gives the defense a boost.
Hopefully, Jim Harbaugh makes sure Roman never forgets how critical it is to establish Gore and the team's running game.
Hopefully, Aldon Smith can get back on track and start playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Hopefully, the 49ers don't have to face Seattle in the playoffs...kidding.
Injuries can't be helped, but there's still time for Harbaugh and his coaches to correct some mistakes and get the players back on track for a Super Bowl run.