The 49ers are no longer the NFC's top seed.
The New Orleans Saints (10-2) jumped into the conference's No. 1 seed thanks to the Seattle Seahawks' 37-30 win over the Minnesota Vikings (9-3) on "Monday Night Football," dropping the 49ers down to No. 5. Seattle (10-2) moved to the No. 2 seed -- and the NFC West lead -- thanks to a Week 10 win over the Niners at Levi's Stadium.
The Seahawks' loss to New Orleans back on Sept. 22, however, gave the Saints the tiebreaker for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Despite losing to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, the 49ers still have some control of their own destiny in pursuit of the No. 1 seed and the NFC West crown. San Francisco plays New Orleans in Week 14 and Seattle in Week 17, giving the 49ers an opportunity to enter the playoffs as the NFC's top seed when all is said and done. If the 49ers remain in the No. 5 spot, they likely would open the playoffs against the NFC East winner and would have to win three games on the road in order to advance to Super Bowl LIV.
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Here's the full NFC playoff picture after Monday night:
- New Orleans Saints (10-2)
- Seattle Seahawks (10-2)
- Green Bay Packers (9-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
- San Francisco 49ers (10-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
The 49ers earned a huge road win over the Saints to improve to 11-2, but that wasn't the end of their good news on Sunday.
Hours after San Francisco prevailed 48-46 in New Orleans, the 49ers' temporary place atop the NFC standings was solidified for at least the next week after the Rams defeated the Seahawks 28-12 in Los Angeles. With the loss, Seattle dropped to 10-3 on the season and fell out of the No. 1 overall seed in the conference.
The 49ers' win combined with the Seahawks' loss puts San Francisco in the driver's seat to win the NFC West, but with Seattle holding the tiebreaker, the division might come down to the Week 17 game between the two teams.
However, it is possible for San Francisco to clinch the division title before Week 17. That would require the 49ers to win each of their next two games against the Falcons and Rams -- both at home -- and the Seahawks to lose at least one of their next two. San Francisco would also clinch a first-round bye in that scenario.
Seattle travels to Carolina to face the sliding Panthers in Week 15 before returning home to host the Cardinals in Week 16. The Seahawks rightfully will be favored in each of those games -- just as the 49ers will be in theirs -- but crazier things have happened.
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Here's what the NFC playoff picture looks like heading into Giants-Eagles on Monday night:
- San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
- Green Bay Packers (10-3)
- New Orleans Saints (10-3)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-4)
49ers fans traveled well to New Orleans for the game against the Saints on Sunday.
But it was a 49ers fan born and raised in The Big Easy that might have had the biggest hand in San Francisco's thrilling 48-46 win.
After the game, All-Pro tight end George Kittle was wearing an unusual necklace at his locker and at his press conference.
The necklace, sent to Kittle by the unidentified fan, was made of gator feet.
Yes, alligator feet.
Kittle and the 49ers needed all the help they could get to win a crazy, back-and-forth game in the Superdome.
After the Saints took a one-point lead with 53 seconds left in regulation, it was Kittle's incredible 39-yard catch and run on fourth-and-2 that helped set up Robbie Gould's game-winning 30-yard field goal as time expired.
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Kittle finished the game with six catches for 67 yards and one touchdown.
We recommend that Kittle continue to bring the gator-feet necklace with him to the rest of the 49ers games this season.