Around the NFC West: Super Bowl bound?
January, 14, 2013
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
The San Francisco 49ers are heading to Atlanta and I'll be following them for a first-hand look at their game against the Falcons from the Georgia Dome. I would have much preferred a quick trip down the coast to see the 49ers face Seattle at Candlestick Park, but the Seahawks' fourth-quarter pass defense would not allow it.
Watching Seattle's defense cede a 28-27 lead to the Falcons in the final 31 seconds of their divisional-round game Sunday recalled our conversation on the blog last week. This marked the fourth time in Seattle's last 11 games that the defense surrendered the winning or tying points in the final 20 seconds of regulation, each time after rookie quarterback Russell Wilson played well enough to win, and then some.
And so the Seahawks will be watching from home while a 49ers team they defeated by a 42-13 score 22 days ago marches forward following a decisive victory over Green Bay. While the 49ers naturally would have welcomed a home game against Seattle or anyone in the championship round, I think the Falcons pose less risk than the Seahawks would have posed -- even on the road.
The Seahawks entered this season a year behind the 49ers and ended it one week behind them. Both teams have found their long-term quarterbacks. Both will have to fend off the St. Louis Rams next season while waiting to see whether Arizona can find a legitimate quarterback.
In the meantime, there is football left to be played. I think the 49ers are heading to New Orleans via Atlanta. They appear Super Bowl bound to me.