The 49ers arrived in Seattle riding high. Winners of four of their last five, Kyle Shanahan's team had risen from the dregs of the NFC to within a half-game of the No. 5 seed Los Angeles Rams.
Facing a Seahawks team in full free-fall, the 49ers had a golden opportunity to keep their playoff train moving forward Sunday, but instead, an embarrassing 30-23 loss sent them crashing back to earth with a thud.
Now at 6-6, the 49ers have fallen to the No. 7 seed in the NFC and are in a pack of teams hovering around .500. They are aware of the impact Sunday's loss had on their playoff fortunes, but they also know there still is a lot of football left.
"I just heard it puts us down into the seven seed," quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said after the loss. "But I don't know. It's one of those losses that you can't let this stick with you for too long. Watch the film, be hard on ourselves like we always are -- we're very critical of all the little things -- but Cincinnati's going to come up real quick and we've got to be able to move on. We're going out there, so get your mind right for long travel. This train ain't stopping, so we gotta be ready for it."
The 49ers were sloppy and undisciplined Sunday against a rival Seahawks team that now is 2-0 against them and 2-8 against the rest of their schedule. San Francisco turned the ball over three times, was whistled for 10 penalties and was an abject disaster on special teams.
Despite all that, the 49ers had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds but Garoppolo's pass on fourth-and-goal was tipped at the line by Carlos Dunlap and fell harmlessly to the turf, sending the 49ers back to .500.
"Yeah, we definitely blew it," defensive end Nick Bosa said of the 49ers' performance. "But we knew it was going to be this type of game whenever we play them. But we have to do a much better job of not giving the game away. We're still in the mix and we're going to keep working really hard, and we still have a lot of confidence in our team."
At 6-6, the 49ers now are behind the Washington Football Team (6-6) by virtue of conference record, and just barely ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (6-7). The good news for the 49ers is that the Minnesota Vikings fell on their face against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, falling to 5-7 on the season.
The Atlanta Falcons (5-7) and Carolina Panthers (5-7) both are alive in the playoff hunt, but neither has shown the consistency needed to be perceived as a legitimate threat to snag a wild-card spot.
The important thing for the 49ers is to not let this Seahawks loss beat them twice. The 49ers must turn around and head east to face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14. The Bengals (7-5) are coming off a disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday that dropped them to the No. 7 seed in the AFC.
Cincinnati is a dangerous opponent. Quarterback Joe Burrow has a plethora of weapons from rookie standout Ja'Marr Chase to running back Joe Mixon and downfield threat Tee Higgins.
The 49ers have to flush the Seahawks loss immediately, or else they'll get pounced on in Cincy and suddenly have an uphill battle to make the postseason.