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49ers’ path to the playoffs

Oh, to be drunk off a victory!

And who can argue that simultaneously shutting out the Rams and snagging a playoff berth isn’t worth about five rounds of shots for the Niners?

Bring on the booze, the battle scars and the bragging rights!

But hang on for a minute: There are still four regular season games left for the red-and-gold before the postseason begins. And although the buzz of yesterday’s clincher is still raging, Señor Harbaugh and company will need that rush to keep playing tough before a success hangover kicks in.

That being said, three of those four games are against teams that the Niners have already conquered earlier in the season: the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, and the recently-demolished St. Louis Rams.

SF owned the Cards when the two teams met before Thanksgiving, in a game made more engrossing by the scuffles between players than by its 23-7 score. Arizona will no doubt be looking for redemption. But their come-from-behind tactics will be squashed if Alex Smith can throw another bullseye 56-yard TD or two like he did last Sunday against St. Louis.

Seattle has had more success this season at the expense of other teams’ injured players than due to their own team chemistry. And although the Seahawks were recently victorious over a badly-battered Eagles team, their inconsistency makes them easy prey.

The returns of Sam Bradford and Braylon Edwards could make for a less-gruesome match-up when the Rams and Niners play again on January 1, but you’d best believe that SF already has St. Louis’ number.

The big matchup left in the regular season is San Fran hosting Monday Night Football on December 19 when the Steelers roll into town. A Pittsburgh offense, averaging 256 passing yards a game, going up against a hungry 49ers defense? A battle worth watching. Especially if Ben Roethlisberger is having one of his “off nights.”

So keep the party going, 49ers faithful. There are still more victories for the taking. If San Fran keeps dominating the way they did on Sunday, there will be more to drink up in the future.

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