We’re not going to spend much of your time looking back on whether the 49ers should have played for the tie against the Seattle Seahawks in overtime back on Nov. 11.
Coach Kyle Shanahan’s explanation in the days that followed made sense then, and it still makes sense.
So we’re not going to look back. Instead, we’re going to look ahead.
If the 49ers beat the Seahawks on Sunday night, they will win the NFC West and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. As Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest points out on the 49ers Insider Podcast, this game is probably not nearly as important for Pete Carroll’s team.
After all, Green Bay (12-3) would have to lose at Detroit (3-11-1) and the Seahawks would have to beat the 49ers in order earn a first-round playoff bye. However, Seattle still would host a game with a win over the 49ers, so there’s plenty riding on this one for both teams.
But what if the 49ers face a similar situation on Sunday night to what happened when the teams met earlier this season at Levi’s Stadium? Or what if there’s a tie?
The 49ers would finish the season at 12-3-1 and would win the NFC West based on having a better record than Seattle, which would finish at 11-4-1. If both New Orleans (12-3) and Green Bay win on Sunday, the 49ers would drop to the No. 3 seed and play host to the sixth-seeded Minnesota Vikings on wild-card weekend.
If either New Orleans or Green Bay lose or tie on Sunday, the 49ers would be the No. 2 seed and have a bye week before hosting a playoff game in the divisional round.
And if both New Orleans and Green Bay lose or tie, the 49ers would still be the No. 1 seed and have home-field advantage in the playoffs.