Must win for 49ers against Rams?


Must win for 49ers against Rams?

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers can finish the job of winning the NFC West on Sunday against the lowly St. Louis Rams.But they will still have a lot of work to accomplish before the playoffs begin."There's a lot of football left, a lot of opportunities for us to get better," 49ers guard Adam Snyder said. "It would benefit us more to focus on that, rather than getting into the playoffs. I'm sure if we win, I'll celebrate a little. But you celebrate every win."There could be twice the reasons for 49ers running back Frank Gore to celebrate. He is just 22 yards away from surpassing Joe "The Jet" Perry on the official 49ers rushing list.RELATED: Gore on brink of franchise record
"The bigger picture is us winning the game and doing something we've haven't done in a while, and that's getting to the playoffs," Gore said."But I'd be happy if I do it this week. It would be a blessing. I would like to do it in front of the fans, who have been with us for a while and been behind us 100 percent. It would be a time to win and get the record. That would be great."In a lot of ways, this might be a must-win game for the 49ers because of the NFC playoff race. After all, the 49ers are currently in command of the No. 2 seed with a 9-2 record. The game against the Rams at Candlestick would appear to be their easiest remaining game. (The 49ers are 13-point favorites.)The 49ers finish the season at Arizona (Dec. 11), at home in a Monday night game against Pittsburgh (Dec. 19), and with road games at Seattle (Dec. 24) and St. Louis (Jan. 1).It seems unlikely the 49ers (9-2) can catch the Green Bay Packers (11-0) for the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. But the 49ers, essentially, have a two-game lead over the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys for the No. 2 spot, which includes a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round of the playoffs.The 49ers own a one-game lead over the Saints (8-3), but the 49ers would win any tie-breaker based on a better record within the conference. The 49ers have a two-game lead over the Cowboys, but the Cowboys would win a tie-breaker based on their head-to-head overtime victory against the 49ers in Week 2.If the 49ers were to slip to the No. 3 slot in the playoffs, they would still get a home playoff game in the wild-card round. But if the 49ers win that game, they would be forced to play on the road in the divisional round.Today's key games
St. Louis at 49ers, 1:15 p.m.
Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 1:15 p.m.
Dallas at Arizona, 1:15 p.m.
Detroit at New Orleans, 5:20 p.m. Here is a look at the complete NFC playoff picture (entering Sunday's games):Division leaders
1. Green Bay (North) 11-0. (NFC record: 9-0)
2. 49ers (West) 9-2. (NFC record: 7-1)
3. New Orleans (South) 8-3. (NFC record: 5-3)
4. Dallas (East) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-2)Wild card
5. Chicago (North) 7-4. (NFC record: 6-3)
6. Atlanta (South) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-4)
Next in line
7. Detroit (North) 7-4. (NFC record: 5-4)8. N.Y. Giants (East) 6-5. (NFC record: 3-5)
9. Seattle (West) 5-7. (NFC record: 4-4)
10. Washington (East) 4-7. (NFC record: 4-5)
11. Arizona (West) 4-7. (NFC record: 4-5)
12. Tampa Bay (South) 4-7. (NFC record: 3-5)
13. Philadelphia (East) 4-8. (NFC record: 4-6)
14. Carolina (South) 3-8. (NFC record: 1-7)
15. Minnesota (North) 2-9. (NFC record: 2-6)
16. St. Louis (West) 2-9. (NFC record: 1-8)Tie-breakers
Head-to-head, if applicable.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.

Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium


Montana, Clark scheduled to address crowd at Levi's Stadium

SANTA CLARA -- Dwight Clark and Joe Montana are scheduled to address the crowd Sunday at Levi’s Stadium at halftime of the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

It should be an emotional day, as 36 members from the team that defeated Dallas in the NFC Championship Game and went on to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title are expected to attend.

Montana is scheduled to be surrounded by his former teammates and speak from the field at halftime. Clark is likely to be situated in a suite, where he is expected to make some remarks. Clark, 60, announced in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Former 49ers offensive lineman Randy Cross, appearing on the 49ers Insider Podcast, said he is looking forward to seeing so many of his teammates from the squad that served as a springboard for five Super Bowl titles under the ownership of Hall of Famer Eddie DeBartolo.

“I can’t wait to see (Clark),” Cross said. “I can’t wait to see Eddie. I can’t wait to see Joe. There is a core group of guys I’ve gotten to see a few times a year since we all went our separate ways. There are guys I’ll get a chance to see, in some cases, (for the first time) since almost around the time we parted ways in the early-‘80s.”

The NFC Championship Game on Jan. 10, 1982, is best-remembered for “The Catch” – Clark’s leaping, finger-tip grab of a Montana pass for a 6-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining.

The 49ers defeated the Cowboys 28-27 at Candlestick Park. Coach Bill Walsh’s team went on to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals, 26-21, in Super Bowl XVI.

“For those of us who played on the Niners charity basketball team with both Joe and Dwight, and knowing their hoop skills and the way they could jump, we weren’t terribly surprised at: A, how high he threw it; and, B, how high Dwight got,” said Cross, who was blocking from his right guard position near the sideline and had an unobstructed view of the play.

“If Dwight got his fingers on it, it was going to be a catch. That was the thing about D.C., you won’t find too many instances in which he had a ball on him or near him that he dropped. There wasn’t much doubt.”

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Shanahan showed patience with Beathard; Will now have to show more

Kyle Shanahan is, self admittedly, not a patient person. As he watched quarterback C.J. Beathard run the scout team over the last couple of weeks -- how he visualized an unfamiliar play, went through his progressions and handled the defensive coverages -- the head coach saw rapid improvement every day. But he suppressed any urge to play the rookie before he was ready.

“I tried to wait for the right time for him and the right time for the team,” Shanahan explained.

Down 14-0 to Washington halfway through the second quarter with starter Brian Hoyer struggling, Shanahan knew Beathard’s time had come.

“I felt the team needed it right then,” Shanahan said. “It also made me more confident to do it because I thought he was ready for it, also.”

Moments after the game was over, Shanahan named Beathard the starter. Watching the game tape on the flight home only bolstered his decision.

“By no means was he perfect, missed a couple of things, but that always happens,” Shanahan said. “I thought he came in there, didn’t hesitate, competed. The moment was not too big for him. Made a few plays in rhythm, made a few off schedule plays and was a big reason we got back in that game.”

Beathard led the 49ers on two scoring drives and finished 19-of-36 with 245 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception, though it came on fourth-and-20 on his final pass attempt of the game. On his 45-yard touchdown pass to Aldrick Robinson, Beathard extended the play when the fifth year receiver wasn’t where he expected him to be.

“He was supposed to go to the post for a certain coverage, and they had a busted coverage, so he just hung out there which is why C.J. didn’t see it right away,” Shanahan explained. “We had enough protection where he could take a couple more hitches. He drove the pocket and saw where Aldrick was, and he didn’t hesitate. Made that throw with that arm strength.”

Shanahan smirked at his not-so-subtle dig at those who questioned Beathard’s arm strength during the draft process. He sees a quarterback who can make all the throws, and make them from the pocket, and scramble when he needs to. All he needs now, Shanahan contends, is experience.

“It’s about playing in the game and reacting to defenses, reacting to coverages, reacting to adjustments. He’s going to see a lot of things he hasn’t seen before, and that will change each week. It will probably change each quarter.”

Helping Beathard continue to grow through those experiences will require patience, but in this situation, it’s the kind the head coach can handle.

“You’re never going to get a quick answer. You see over time, but he’s got the ability to do it. He’s got the mental toughness to do it. I think he will get better the more he plays.”