49ers defense makes impressive December stand

This December defensive stand by San Francisco did plenty for

the 49ers and showed a lot to the rest of the league in the

process.

The defending NFC champions are still right in the playoff mix,

and plan to keep it that way.

After holding Russell Wilson and the archrival Seahawks in check

Sunday on the way to a physical 19-17 victory that kept Seattle

from clinching the West, San Francisco (9-4) can still largely

control its fate by winning out this month.

”I think we showed a championship effort,” safety Donte

Whitner said. ”I think everybody around the country knows who the

49ers are now. That was a championship football game in a playoff

atmosphere and we just made a few more plays than they made.”

Not that coach Jim Harbaugh is spending significant time

figuring out all the different playoff scenarios and where his team

might wind up for the divisional round come January. Next up is a

cross-country road trip this weekend to Tampa Bay, and the Niners

are riding a three-game winning streak after back-to-back losses

against Carolina and New Orleans.

Quoting the signature phrase of late Raiders owner Al Davis,

Harbaugh said: ”Al Davis said it as well as it can ever be said,

`just win.’ Those are our intentions.”

Harbaugh pulled out an old stand-by of his own after Sunday’s

win, too: ”Who’s got it better than us? Nobody!”

The 49ers limited Seattle to 264 total yards

”The defense came to play,” wide receiver Michael Crabtree

said. ”They saved us.”

And San Francisco still has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher,

though Justin Smith insists ”there’s nothing magical about

stopping the run.” Marshawn Lynch looked like he might be on his

way with a fast start Sunday, but the Seattle star wound up with 72

yards on 20 carries – just 22 yards after halftime.

”That’s quite an accomplishment,” Harbaugh said of his

defense’s streak. ”It certainly was in this game.”

Harbaugh simplified his defensive unit’s effort to ”just

running and hitting, hitting and running.”

It helps to have such talented players at every position.

With Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks swarming at

every chance, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis delivering

punishing hits and Glenn Dorsey defiantly manning the middle, this

defense is in sync up front.

”That team was (11-1). When you knock off a team that had

previously lost one game, you can look over and see

(frustration),” Aldon Smith said. ”We came out there and were

making plays. We clicked. When we’re all on the same page, we’re a

hard team to stop. We got after it today.”

The 49ers were mad, too. Mad that they had been outscored 71-16

in two previous losses against the Seahawks, both in Seattle,

including a 29-3 rout in Week 2.

Pressure came right at Wilson from the start. He threw for 199

yards on 15-of-25 passing but threw an interception and produced

just an 81.9 passer rating.

”They fly around and they make plays,” said Wilson, who was

also sacked twice. ”They have a lot of great players and their

front seven is incredibly strong just like ours.”

Every player on the 49ers realizes that each week is being

treated as a win-or-go-home playoff-type game.

”From here on out, all of them are,” Dorsey said. ”All of

them.”

Notes: Harbaugh credited everyone for executing the key blocks

on Frank Gore’s late 51-yard gain that helped set up Phil Dawson’s

game-winning 22-yard field goal. … Seats from Candlestick Park,

in partnership between the 49ers and the San Francisco Recreation

and Parks Department, went on sale in pairs for $749 via

Ticketmaster. Proceeds benefit San Francisco Recreation and Parks

Department youth programs. The Niners have one remaining game at

The `Stick, Dec. 23 against Atlanta. The team has played in the

iconic venue since 1971.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org