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Morning Tailgate: Keeping Pace in NFC West Race

Posted Oct 25, 2013

49ers leaders Justin Smith and Patrick Willis are focused on Sunday's game because winning each week keeps San Francisco in the hunt with Seattle.

If you're still not convinved that the streaking 49ers are completely "up" for their Week 8 matchup against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars, there's something else to consider.

San Francisco isn't just opposing Jacksonville on Sunday -- it's also looking to best an NFC West rival.

At 6-1, the Seattle Seahawks remain atop the division standings. At 5-2, the 49ers remain on their tail.

After the teams' Sunday games, each will be exactly halfway through their 2013 season schedule. There's still a sense of urgency, however.

Each win -- and loss -- changes the picture. A "W" over the Jaguars is as valuable as one over, say, the Tennessee Titans.

"We're trailing Seattle right now, so our mindset is we have to get this one," defensive tackle Justin Smith said. "We're in the hunt, motivation is not a problem."

This belief extends to another team leader.

"We have to come out and play a complete game and not get caught up in their win-loss record," inside linebacker Patrick Willis said. "If we get to Sunday and we're not prepared, we can be beat.

"Every game is important for us because Seattle is in our division. Right now, they're ahead. As long as they're winning games, we have to win games. It's just a matter of will, to go out and to win and win and win."

For more storylines surrounding the team, check out this edition of Morning Tailgate links, presented by State Farm.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted McLeod Bethel-Thompson’s London connection.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com focused on the Tarell Brown-Justin Blackmon matchup for Sunday.

Eric Branch of SFGate.com pointed to the hopes San Francisco has for Mario Manningham.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News argued that Vernon Davis is a key to the team’s resurgence.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com quoted Vic Fangio on the progress of Eric Wright.







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