The argument that playoff teams without first-round byes ultimately have more success? Bah humbug. The 49ers, who already are assured of a postseason berth, are gunning for the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and that's all there is to it.
"That's our goal. We want to get the bye," left tackle Joe Staley said. "We don't shy away from our goals. We want to win the division and then get the bye and then get to the playoffs and move on from there."
Staley noted that the 49ers hold their fate in their hands. They currently hold the No. 2 position by a half-game over the Packers, who host the Titans this weekend and then finish out the season on the road against the Vikings. The 49ers, of course, play Seattle Sunday and finish at home against Arizona.
A win over the Seahawks also would give the 49ers their second straight division title. They would not be able to get the No. 1 seed if Atlanta holds on for a win in Detroit.
The last two Super Bowl winners - the Giants and Packers - did not earn a playoff bye and played on Wild card weekend. The argument is that they got on a roll while other teams (the 2011 Packers, for instance) fell off track by securing a top seed early and then resting during the first weekend of the playoffs.
The 49ers' situation is a bit different, however, in that they'd probably need to win their remaining games to preserve the No. 2 seed. That was the case last season, and the 49ers ended up winning their divisional-round game against New Orleans.
Seattle still can surpass them both for the division title and a better playoff seed. One scheduling item to note if both the 49ers and Packers win on Sunday: The Packers play three hours earlier the following weekend, meaning it's possible that San Francisco will have wrapped up the No. 2 seed as their own game is beginning.
- Matt Barrows