Because of that performance, San Francisco is now 10-4-1, only a half game up on the Seahawks in the NFC West, and a half game behind the Packers for the second seed in the NFC. A loss to Arizona in Week 17 would send the 49ers on the road for the duration of the playoffs.
What should the 49ers do from here on out to regain the dominance they have displayed at times this season? Here's a look at what Jim Harbaugh should do.
Give Colin Kaepernick a chance to create plays
One issue I had with the 49ers during their game against the Seahawks was that they seemed to go at it a bit too conservatively.
The plan was to go run first, which is a good enough strategy to start the game. However, once they were down big, the fact that they continued this strategy (which was a failing one since Seattle bottled up the 49ers run game pretty well) seemed like a concession.
Kaepernick is starting for the 49ers because he gives them a better chance to win with his arm and his legs, or at least it seems that way. In order to fully utilize the talent that the 49ers have on the field, Kaepernick has to be set free and be allowed to make plays in the same way that the Seahawks use Russell Wilson.
Doing this gives the 49ers their best chance on offense to win games.
Feel free to sub out on defense from time to time
But against Seattle, this unit looked worn down, partly because its best defensive players are always on the field no matter what.
While this goes to show the tremendous shape they are in, they are still human, and not immune to being exhausted. Considering that they played the entire game against the Patriots, then had to fly across the country a week later to face Seattle (in one of the toughest places to play), doesn't exactly help keep them fresh.
Against the Cardinals, the 49ers should feel free to use some of their reserves. While it's a must-win game for the 49ers (a loss and a Seattle win gives the Seahawks the NFC West), it's also the type of game where you can afford to give your best players a play or two off, or even a series.
Just remember that one game doesn't carry over into the next game
Finally, this is a simple one: Leave your problems with Seattle in Seattle, then feel free to take it out on them when you meet in the playoffs. (And these two teams look like they are on a collision course for a rubber match in January.)
It was one game, and the 49ers did have some breathing room going into the game, which is why they're still in first place. Now the focus should be on Arizona. Close out the regular season strong, get the win, the second seed and the all-important bye week during the wild-card run.
From then on, the 49ers should be able to find their dominant ways again, and continue to pave the road to New Orleans they set out upon in July.
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