For their first playoff run under Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers went to the NFC Championship game and were a few plays away from making it to the sixth Super Bowl in franchise history.
The overtime NFC title game, however, didn’t go San Francisco’s way, but the team bounced back in 2012 with an 11-4-1 regular season and another NFC West division crown, the 19th in team history.
Thanks to Sunday’s 27-13 season finale win over the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco repeated as NFC West champions. Combined with a late-game Minnesota Vikings win over the Green Bay Packers and the 49ers are back in the postseason as the NFC’s No. 2 seed for consecutive seasons.
It’s hard to argue about the 49ers doing even more damage in Harbaugh’s second postseason appearance.
“This is the second time around,” tight end
Before the playoffs began, the already playoff eligible-49ers had important work to do and got the job done.
San Francisco outlasted the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday after a sluggish first quarter. The team’s 27-unanswered points in the middle of the game, however, bode well for a hungry team looking to avenge last season’s NFC title game heartbreak.
“It means a lot,” defensive co-captain
“Now with these last two seasons to be playing for something,” Willis continued, “It’s a blessing. I know we’re grateful for it. And I know are guys are really thankful. We’re going to continue that much harder to work because the ultimate goal… that’s still ahead of us and it’s going to be a tough road. But, as we said right now, we like it tough.”
It’s also perfect timing considering
“He’s a tremendous player for us,” said safety
Without Smith in the lineup, the 49ers stiffened up to hold the Cardinals to a pair of field goals, 11 first downs and 262 net yards. In Smith’s place, fourth-year defensive tackle
“We have to pick up the slack,” Jean Francois said after the game in his red, NFC West division champion hat. “We came closer as a ream. We knew what was on the line; we knew we had to make it happen.”
It took the 49ers 13 weeks to clinch the NFC West title in 2011 and all 17 regular season weeks to make it happen again in 2012.
Nonetheless, San Francisco has its first consecutive division titles since the team won four straight NFC West crowns from 1992-95. Sunday’s win over the Cardinals also extended the team’s 13 consecutive December home games without a loss (12-0-1), the longest active streak in the NFL.
The 49ers will now look to add to their January win totals.
“Whoever comes here to the West Coast gets to see how we do,” said
The bye also means a great deal to the Pro Bowl runner who finished his eighth season with 238 carries, 1,146 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
“I get a rest,” Gore said, “my o-line gets a rest and once we go then can do whatever we want to do.”
Gore, the offensive co-captain, speaks for the entire team.
This year’s bunch feels even hungrier after everything the group has experienced together.
“You have to treat the playoffs like it’s every other game,” said