A victory and the 49ers continue to move forward and the remainder of the season (whether they win enough games to make the playoffs or not) will be a preview of why the current core of 49er personnel can lead this team in the near future.
Beating Seattle moves San Francisco to 6-6 and if everything goes to plan, the 49ers will be just one game behind division leading Arizona heading into the Monday night contest against the Cardinals next week.
Kurt Warner or no Kurt Warner, the Cardinals are still the defending NFC champions and lead the division for a reason. They are without a doubt a solid football team from top to bottom.
Even if the 49ers play their best football against the Cardinals and in Philadelphia later in the season against the Eagles, these two games may simply end up as losses.
The other remaining opponents on the schedule are the Lions and Rams which are essentially automatic wins and if the 49ers win this week against the Seahawks, these three victories will give them an solid 8-8 record, but would mean missing the playoffs.
However, if the season shakes out in this fashion with the 49ers winning the games they are supposed to win and coming up short in the two big-time contests against quality opponents, San Francisco will still have a positive outlook going into next season.
But if the 49ers fail to beat the 4-7 injury-plagued Seahawks this week, a team they ought to beat, all the questions surrounding this team will continue.
Why did they hire Jimmy Raye as offensive coordinator?
Is Alex Smith ever going to pan out?
Where is the pass rush?
Does Mike Singletary really understand the x's and o's of football from a coaching perspective? Not all great players make great coaches.
Why can't the offensive line block for longer than two seconds in the I-formation?
Can we trust Scott Mcloughan to make smart personnel moves?
If the 49ers lose in Seattle on Sunday, all these questions will remain and the search for a franchise quarterback will continue.
Alex Smith will be back next year but are the 49ers going to give Nate Davis an opportunity to compete for the job? Or will they try and use one of their early draft picks on a quarterback? Or perhaps a free-agent to compete for the job?
And there is also the situation with offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye who has been much maligned by the 49er fan base this season. Will the 49ers have an eight different offensive coordinator in eight straight seasons?
The feeling amongst the fan base going into the Seahawks game is that the 49ers are turning a corner out of mediocrity and becoming a true balanced playoff team.
But if San Francisco loses to the Seahawks, the team, the fans and the media will once again start to have doubts.
Good teams make sure they win the games they are suppose to win. Losing this game means the 49ers are not yet a good team.
This is a situation where Alex Smith and the 49ers cannot afford to lose if they want to be taken seriously by the rest of the league. Since it is a divisional game, either team could win but the circumstances are such that the better team's quarterback has to lead his team to victory.
With Seattle's 25th ranked pass defense, Smith must win this game and show how he can be a difference maker.
Without this victory not only do the playoff hopes for this season come to and end but next season's outlook starts to look just as bleak.
It is a make or break game for the 49ers because a lot of key personnel could be changed by next year if they don't win on Sunday.