Niners Are Re-Focusing After Loss to Falcons

Shanahan says 49ers still control their destiny and can earn top seed with wins over the Rams and Seahawks

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers.
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

It’s been three days now, but the 49ers are still kicking themselves over losing to the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday.

The Niners could be 12-2 now and in sole possession of first place in the NFC West and in the lead for the NFC’s No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the playoffs. But the last-minute 29-22 defeat put all that in jeopardy. San Francisco at 11-3 is tied for the division lead with Seattle, but the Seahawks have the edge with a victory over their southern rivals earlier this season.

Now, the 49ers need a win Saturday night against the Rams at Levi’s Stadium and another on the final Sunday of the regular season in Seattle.

“It pissed us off for a while,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters Tuesday. “(But) it’s neat to be able to say to the team that, ‘Look guys, last week before we played them we controlled our own destiny. It was a tough loss that we feel we were good enough to win and didn’t get it done, but we still control our own destiny.’ ”

Certainly, it won’t be easy. The Rams are 8-6 with an explosive offense and are the defending NFC champions. The Seahawks have been consistent this season and are led by quarterback Russell Wilson (having an MVP-caliber season) and are especially tough to beat at home. The 49ers haven’t won in Seattle since 2011, noted Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee.

Tight end George Kittle told Biderman that he and his teammates may have had a letdown against the Falcons after a comeback victory over the Saints a week before in New Orleans.

“You could feel on the whole sideline,” Kittle said. “Whether it’s coaches, players, staff, it just kind of felt different. So we got to figure out how to change that and get back to how we play football.”

Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo says if the team focuses first on the Rams, then on the Seahawks, they can pull off an NFC West title. The 49ers can’t overlook the Rams, or they’ll fall flat again.

“We do control our own destiny and if we handle business, we’ll be in a good spot,” he said.

No matter what happens, the 49ers have clinched a postseason berth. But they want the NFC West crown, not a wild card.

Saturday’s game is set for kickoff at 5:15 p.m. at Levi’s Stadium.

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