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Niner Talk Bonus: How the NFC West Will Be Won

Posted Dec 26, 2013

This week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" touches on all the Week 17 playoff scenarios 49ers fans should be concerned about.

Thank you NaVorro Bowman.

Seriously, thank you.

Because of Bowman's 89-yard interception return for a touchdown, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons on "Monday Night Football" and will be going back to the playoffs for the third time in Jim Harbaugh's three seasons in the NFL.

The 49ers are in the playoffs, but where they play and who they play will be determined after Week 17. So with that being said, this week's bonus round of "Niner Talk" looks at how the NFC West will be won.

Time to answer your questions.

Three things need to happen. The 49ers need to beat the Arizona Cardinals on the road. The St. Louis Rams need to win on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Last, the Atlanta Falcons need a win over the Carolina Panthers at home.

It's not entirely out of the question, but keep in mind, the Falcons-Panthers game is a 1:00 p.m. ET kick-off, so the outcome will be known before the 49ers-Cardinals and Rams-Seahawks games.

It's very possible that has been the case. Harbaugh and Greg Roman are poker-like when it comes to showing scheme and tendencies. We've seen the zone-read schemes at times this year, but the 49ers have used more power-oriented running plays this season. However, we've seen LaMichael James worked into the rotation on offense slowly but surely. It's possible the 49ers will have new wrinkles for the postseason when everything is put out on the table.

We'll have to stay tuned.

I think the mindset is bring on whoever. There's no easy game in the postseason, especially if the 49ers have to go on the road. Wherever San Francisco plays, home or away, the same focus will be used by the team. The 49ers want to avenge last season's loss in the Super Bowl.

The opponent won't matter. It's all about winning games "by any means necessary" as Harbaugh has often said this year.

That’s football jargon for, “We messed up.” Listen closely, you'll hear that after almost every game in the NFL.

We might need it. I’ll have to get back to you.

If there’s another game at The ‘Stick, or two, I’d imagine there would be another celebration. Not sure if it’s to that extent as the regular season finale, but who knows?

Bowman and Nick Moody had the best dunks I’ve seen. You’ll have to check Quinton Patton’s Instagram account to answer the latter.

Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

Defensively, the 49ers are much healthier in the front seven and Smith is not dealing with the shoulder injury that hampered him in the playoffs last season. The injury required offseason surgery.

In the final weeks of 2013, Smith looks much more powerful and is collapsing the pocket on a regular basis. The best thing about the third-year outside linebacker is that he can bull-rush and use his speed to bend low and get around the edge. Smith looks like he has all of his pass-rushing tools at this stage of the year.

On offense, the 49ers will go as far as Kaepernick can take them. He's making plays with his arm and his legs which is a great sign. Kaepernick rushed for 51 yards and had a 4-yard touchdown on a power running play. With the return of Michael Crabtree, Kaepernick has options all over the field and is taking full advantage.

It looks like 'Kap' and 'Crab' have easily picked their chemistry right back up where they left off in 2012.

No sir.

Linebacker. Bowman, Smith, Ahmad Brooks and some guy named Patrick Willis. That's a squad righ there.

Two pairs of Lunargrand Cole Haans and some other odds and ends.

Great question. Never thought of that.

The 49ers need to win by any means necessary. The Cardinals have 10 wins and they need a win and a loss by the New Orleans Saints to get in the playoffs.

Needless to say, it should be a great game on Sunday.

Thanks everyone for watching the show and writing in questions. We'll talk next week about the 49ers playoff matchup.

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