Frank Gore chilled at the Warriors game Christmas night. Jim Harbaugh spent the day with his family, including his wife, four children and father Jack.
All was well for the 49ers it seemed on Sunday, one day after they eliminated the Seattle Seahawks from postseason contention with a scrappy 19-17 win in the Pacific Northwest.
Two days removed from the quality win, the 49ers all-time leader rusher and head coach remained pleased with a gritty performance on the road.
Gore compared the win to a must-win game in the playoffs. The 49ers needed to win to keep control of the NFC’s No. 2 seed, and just like teams need wins to advance in the postseason, the 49ers got it done in a fiercely contested game.
“It’s like the playoffs,” Gore began, “if you want to go to the next round you have to win. We’ve played two good teams in six days and we want the No. 2 seed. We beat a good team in Pittsburgh and a good team in Seattle, that shows as a team we’re going in the right place.”
Harbaugh saw his players find a way to win in trying circumstances, a sign of a battle-tested team.
“They didn’t flinch,” Harbaugh said in his press conference. “It reminded me of games in Detroit and Philadelphia… You find a way to win.”
Michael Crabtree’s 41-yard catch which set up David Akers’ 39-yard field goal, followed by a forced fumble by linebacker Larry Grant on Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, all but ensured a memorable holiday memory.
“In a lot of ways, Crab saved Christmas,” Harbaugh said. “Thought Larry Grant did as well. David Akers – in that mix. Made it a lot merrier.”
The resolve shown by the 49ers in the fourth quarter wasn’t a surprise to Gore or the head coach.
“We just know we’re a good team,” said Gore, who finished the game with 83 hard-fought yards and a 4-yard touchdown on the ground. “We don’t panic. We don’t panic at all.”
The 49ers are in the driver’s seat for the NFC’s No. 2 seed. A win by the Atlanta Falcons over the New Orleans Saints would clinch a first-round bye for the 49ers in the playoffs. If the Falcons lose, the 49ers would need a win in St. Louis to assure themselves of the No. 2 seed.
Harbaugh, like Gore, said he’ll be watching the primetime game, but won’t let the outcome change his approach to the 49ers season finale in St. Louis.
“I’ve always learned to hope for the best and expect the worst,” said Harbaugh, who will prepare to beat the Rams regardless of Monday’s outcome.
Gore will be tuned in to the NFC South showdown which has first place in the division on the line.
“I always watch the Monday night game,” Gore said, “but you know, I’m going for Atlanta right now. “
Gore also doesn’t see the outcome changing his team’s mindset as San Francisco heads into the postseason for the first time since 2002.
“I’m going in feeling really good,” Gore said of his mentality entering his first playoff appearance in his seven-year career. “I’m ready to play. If New Orleans doesn’t lose, we’ll go down to St. Louis and try to get a win and lock up the second seed and get that bye week.”
Notes and Quotes
According to Harbaugh, tight end Delanie Walker’s status for the remainder of the year is not known. Walker, who suffered a jaw injury against the Seahawks, will be evaluated closely over the next 7-10 days for the 49ers to see if he’ll be available again in the playoffs. “He’s going to be out for a period of time,” Harbaugh said.
As for the possibility of bringing in an outside player to fill in for Walker or Kyle Williams, who suffered a head injury on Saturday, Harbaugh didn’t shoot down the notion that a free agent could hypothetically come in and help a team win playoff games. “I don’t think that’s unrealistic,” said the 49ers coach, who added that the 49ers will wait see on Williams’ status for St. Louis. “Kyle’s a tough kid. It’s all in the hands of the doctors and Kyle.”
Pro Bowl rosters will be announced on Tuesday. Harbaugh is hopeful 9-11 of his players make the NFC squad.
Joshua Morgan was seen around team headquarters on Monday and was also in Seattle this weekend, joining his teammates on the road for the first time since he was place on the Injured Reserve list. Harbaugh said he enjoyed having Morgan around the team. “Everyone enjoys his company.”
Tags: Delanie Walker, Frank Gore, Jim Harbaugh, Joshua Morgan, Kyle Williams
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