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The Niners aren't good enough to win while phoning a game in. This is a team that needs to bring it every week, and until last week, they’d evaded lackluster efforts.
Maybe coach Jim Harbaugh's "Who’s got it better than we do" shtick is wearing thin. Motivation and chemistry can take you a long way, but in the playoffs, talent must deliver.
Getting back on the right track against the Steelers—who may be without James Harrison and Big Ben—is all important.
If the Arizona loss proves the impetus for the 49ers regaining their focus and edge, and Harbaugh will use it that way, it may have been for the best.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh's "new wrinkle-a-week" offense seems to be missing lately. The air game remains especially conservative.
Could crafty Captain Comeback possibly be saving the good stuff to spring on unwitting playoff foes?
Don't be surprised if San Fran goes out early in the playoffs.
But don't be surprised if they make a run. After years of frustration, this team is still hungry; Harbaugh knows how to use that better than anyone.