San Francisco

Even the Niners' 2 Defeats Show San Francisco's Strength

Losses to teams that are a combined 19-4 came by a total of just six points; now the 49ers get another test against the Saints, who also are 10-2

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The 49ers have won 10 games this season and lost only two. They remain the No. 1 seed in the NFC as they go into Sunday’s game at New Orleans, which also is 10-2 and is the conference’s current No. 2 seed.

But the two losses the 49ers have suffered this season may be as telling as their 10 victories.

This San Francisco team is balanced, well-coached and talented offensively and defensively, and – with just a couple of breaks its way – could be 12-0.

On Sunday in Baltimore, the 49ers lost to the 10-2 Ravens, 20-17, on a game-ending field goal by Justin Tucker. On Nov. 11, the 49ers lost in overtime to the 9-2 Seattle Seahawks, 27-24, on a field goal – after the 49ers missed a field goal by a substitute kicker earlier in OT that could have given San Francisco the victory.

So, the two losses are by a total of six points to teams that are a combined 19-4. As Rob Lowder of SB Nation wrote Monday morning, even the 49ers’ losses show how good this team is.

Wrote Lowder: "(Head coach Kyle) Shanahan, the rest of the coaching staff, general manager John Lynch and the rest of the front office have crafted a 49ers team capable of beating anyone in the NFL. The 49ers’ loss to the Ravens isn’t a moral victory. They had a chance to win, just like they did in Week 10 against the Seahawks, and couldn’t capitalize. …. That doesn’t detract from the fact the 49ers are among the best teams in the NFL and can still make a deep run into the postseason."

In fact, the 49ers are ranked by at least one NFL oddsmaker as the No. 3 favorite to win the Super Bowl, behind only the Ravens and Patriots, and just ahead of the Saints, Chiefs and Seahawks.

The Niners, however, don’t have anything locked up.

If the Seahawks beat the Vikings Monday night, Seattle at 10-2 (which has the head-to-head edge right now with a win over the 49ers), would move to the top of the NFC West and the 49ers would drop to the NFC’s No. 5 seed. And a San Francisco loss to the Saints Sunday would damage hopes for a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the postseason.

The 49ers' remaining three games after New Orleans will be against the 3-9 Falcons, 7-5 Rams and Seahawks.

Sunday’s game against the Saints is set for a 10 a.m. kickoff.

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