During the first half on Sunday, the avid 49er fan might have questioned whether Jim Harbaugh and Co. realize that they have the NFC West title in the bag, yet they don’t want the fans getting overly confident. They like to keep things as drama-laden as possible.
You know, to keep the fans interested.
So what did the Niners do but drop TD passes, whiff on a 3rd-and-18 inches play at the goal line and generally keep the Rams in the game to the point of potential disaster.
Nonetheless, the 49ers pulled away for the 26-0 victory and claimed the NFC West title to assure a home playoff game. Moreover, they have the luxury of having a month to work on their weaknesses, such as the third-down passing game, without too much risk.
The division title is a great accomplishment to be sure, one that hardly anyone predicted. The 49ers remain the surprise team of the 2011 season. The defense remains stout, even though it appears that Patrick Willis will be out for a while with a strained hamstring.
The 49ers are 10-2, with the second-best record in the NFC. But with the Packers surviving in New Jersey against the Giants, and with the Saints playing well, San Francisco has little time to relax. Holding onto the No. 2 seed is a huge advantage.
Aside from getting them a week off to heal and then a home game, it will keep them out of the Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints haven’t lost their all year and look like they won’t lose there until 2015.
With the playoffs in mind, here are five things we learned about the 49ers in their victory over the Rams.