49ers

NFL playoff picture: Where 49ers stand in NFC after Seahawks' loss

NFL playoff picture: Where 49ers stand in NFC after Seahawks' loss

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.

[RELATED: 49ers disappointed with lack of defensive execution in win]

Here's what the NFC playoff picture looks like heading into Giants-Eagles on Monday night:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (11-2)
  2. Green Bay Packers (10-3)
  3. New Orleans Saints (10-3)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (6-7)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (10-3)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (9-4)

NFL rumors: 49ers' Super Bowl 54 parade will take place in San Francisco

NFL rumors: 49ers' Super Bowl 54 parade will take place in San Francisco

If the confetti falls on the 49ers in Miami, there will be a party shortly thereafter in the Bay Area.

Some have wondered where the 49ers would hold their championship parade should they defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Would it be in San Francisco? What about Santa Clara where the 49ers currently play their home games?

Well, the answer apparently is San Francisco, The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler.

“Well, I’m not inside of the 49ers’ chambers, but the time that I was near the doorway, I heard positive discussions, in which I am proud to say that (a parade) will be right here in our town. The only question is, how in the hell do we pay for it?” former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, who has an unofficial role in the parade planning, told Ostler.

The championship parade would run down Market Street, a source told Ostler.

As for Santa Clara, Brown brushed that idea off.

“And besides that,” Brown said, “there’s no way you can have a parade in Santa Clara. What do they have, one shopping mall?”

[RELATED: 49ers vets giving advice to Super Bowl newbies: 'Just say no']

The 49ers have a tall task in front of them. Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes has been nearly unstoppable when healthy this season and will present a unique challenge to a 49ers defense that has tormented a majority of the quarterbacks they have faced this season. The 49ers have the defensive personnel to give Mahomes fits, but the Chiefs' next-level speed will be something the Niners haven't faced this season.

It will be strength on strength in Miami, with a parade (perhaps) in The City awaiting the Niners should they take care of business.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

Joe Montana defends 'dangerous' Jimmy Garoppolo against criticism

Joe Montana defends 'dangerous' Jimmy Garoppolo against criticism

Jimmy Garoppolo has been taking incoming fire all season.

Hailed as the 49ers' weak link from Day 1, Garoppolo has been talked about like the next version of Trent Dilfer, riding a dominant defense to glory. Even after Garoppolo made clutch plays to beat the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks, the doubters kept coming. 

After only throwing the ball eight times in the 49ers' NFC Championship Game win over the Green Bay Packers, the detractors are getting louder again, but don't count 49ers legend Joe Montana among them. 

"He's doing exactly what he needs to do," Montana said Friday on KNBR's "Murph and Mac." "And at some point and time, they're going to have to lean on him, like they did in the games that you mentioned (wins over Saints and Seahawks), and he's come through in that part, so I'm not concerned about it.

"I remember, there'd be a stretch sometimes where if I went two or three games without throwing a touchdown pass, I'm going, 'What do you want me to do? Tell Roger (Craig) to fall down on the one?

"It's about winning and losing in that league, and it's hard to win," Montana continued. "Sometimes it takes a running game, sometimes you have to lean on the passing game, and, almost always, you have to lean on your defense. The 49ers are lucky because they've got a pretty dang good one."

The 49ers gashed the Packers and Minnesota Vikings in the running game, so there was no need for Jimmy G to air it out.

But if the 49ers need QB1 to make plays in Super Bowl 54 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Montana knows Garoppolo can do what is necessary. 

"Here's my scariest thought: Do you make him [stay] in the pocket, or do you try to put pressure and get him out of there? He's dangerous both places, so it's kind of scary."

[RELATED: Sherman doubts he'll visit White House if 49ers win SB]

With reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes on the opposite side in Miami, chances are Garoppolo will be called on to make plays if the 49ers are to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy. 

Then again, if the 49ers' defense dominates the way it has all season, Garoppolo might not be asked to do much.

Hey, they still gave Dilfer a ring. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).