Dec 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) reacts after a first down during the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. San Francisco 49ers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 33-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers Clinching Scenario Much Simpler: In With Win Or Cardinals’ Loss


The San Francisco 49ers nearly clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, but the Arizona Cardinals’ overtime win at Tennessee denied them the final domino they needed.

The 49ers went into Sunday with two clinching scenarios, but both involved an Arizona loss. The 49ers needed to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which they did 33-14, and needed either the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys to lose.

The fact that both of them did was overkill, but it wound up irrelevant when the Cardinals recovered from blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Tennessee scored 17 points in the final 3:12 of regulation—with no timeouts—to force overtime, but Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception to Arizona’s Antoine Cason after the Titans won the coin toss in overtime.

The Cardinals got three first downs to set up Jay Feely’s winning kick 4:42 into the extra session.

So heading into Week 16, it’s very possible the 49ers could already have their third straight playoff berth locked up before they take the field for the final time at Candlestick Park next Monday night.

San Francisco clinches with a win over the Falcons Monday night or an Arizona loss on Sunday. The Cardinals go to Seattle, where the Seahawks will be looking to lock up the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Seattle has won 14 straight regular-season home games—their last loss at CenturyLink Field was on Dec. 24, 2011, to the 49ers.

San Francisco (10-4) currently holds the No. 6 playoff spot in the NFC. They have the same record as No. 5 Carolina, but the Panthers own the tiebreaker on the strength of their 10-9 win at Candlestick Park on Nov. 10.

After the Detroit Lions lost to the Baltimore Ravens Monday night to fall out of the NFC North lead, the NFC playoff picture currently looks like this:

  1. Seattle (12-2)—NFC West Leader
  2. New Orleans (10-4)—NFC South Leader
  3. Philadelphia (8-6)—NFC East Leader
  4. Chicago (8-6)—NFC North Leader
  5. Carolina (10-4)
  6. San Francisco (10-4)

The Cardinals are the only other NFC team in contention for a wild-card spot. However, Green Bay (7-6-1) and Detroit (7-7) are still alive in the NFC North and the Cowboys (7-7) are still in the hunt in the NFC East.

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Tags: San Francisco 49ers