The San Francisco 49ers came up big against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in what would be the final game played at Candlestick Park. It was a back-and-forth battle for the first few quarters, but things really picked up for San Francisco during the final quarter. It was truly a team effort, and shows how far the 49ers have come since the beginning of the season.
Coming into the 2013 season, the Niners were heavily favored against most teams, but as the weeks passed there were more and more holes in their performance. It was mainly that the league had caught up with Colin Kaepernick and the Niners' offense struggled, but they've since righted the ship and clinched a playoff spot.
A lot of pundits hold the Seattle Seahawks on this seemingly-untouchable pedestal, when the 49ers are right behind them. In fact, there's still a chance that San Francisco can steal the division and No. 1 seed from the Seahawks given their loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
As cracks begin to show in Seattle's armor, the 49ers are reinforcing theirs. San Fran's defense, who put on quite a show Monday night against the Falcons, has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, allowing just 134 points in their last nine games, the fewest of any team during that span.
Navorro Bowman with an 89-yard pick-6 to put the 49ers up by 10 with 1:10 left! pic.twitter.com/puwEiRjoHH— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 24, 2013
They've proven that they can perform at this level for a long period of time, and seem to have gotten better and more confident as the season has gone on; they're surely riding high after their defense helped them power past Atlanta in the final minutes of their Monday night showdown.
Their offense has also been on a roll lately, and Kaep has been pretty stellar in recent weeks. He's been as efficient as he's ever been and his chemistry with his receiving has shined through, especially with the return of stud receiver Michael Crabtree.
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Although doubt did shroud the team at times this season, they've gotten healthy and have won five straight, including a victory over the team their currently chasing, the Seahawks.
They are a very deep team that plays well on both sides of the ball, and regardless of whether or not they get the No. 1 seed from Seattle they will be a tough team to beat for anyone. Although, for a team like the 49ers, seeding doesn't mean much.
Of course getting a bye and home-field advantage is nice, but remaining consistent and going into the playoffs on a hot streak is much more important, and we've seen many teams ride that wave en route to a Super Bowl.
Tim Kawakami of MercuryNews.com pointed out that, in the past three postseasons, No. 1 seeds from the AFC and NFC have a combined record of 3-6 with zero Super Bowl wins. It has actually been a fourth- or sixth-seeded team that has won each of the past three Super Bowls.
So, to summarize, the 49ers may end up with the lower seed in the NFC, but, as history has shown us, that might turn out to be a great thing.