The San Francisco 49ers will wrap up the 2022 regular season by hosting the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Not only will they have the opportunity to finish the schedule with a 10-game winning streak, but they can also claim the top seed in the NFC if they win and the Philadelphia Eagles lose.
All this seemed almost unimaginable in October when they had a 3-4 record and their offense looked anemic, but they have turned things around with the help of the arrival of running back Christian McCaffrey and the emergence of rookie quarterback Brock Purdy.
Some may feel it won’t matter whether San Francisco wins in Week 18, but it will matter, if for no other reason than to maintain its momentum and carry it into the postseason.
These will be the two biggest factors in whether the team does exactly that.
McCaffrey is currently dealing with a sprained ankle and is considered day-to-day, while wide receiver Deebo Samuel has an ankle injury of his own and running back Elijah Mitchell has been recovering from a sprained MCL.
Samuel has missed the 49ers’ last three games while Mitchell has been unavailable for their last five contests, although both are getting closer to returning to game action.
#49ers WR Deebo Samuel (knee/ankle) was a full participant at practice today for the first time since suffering his knee injury on December 11th.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 5, 2023
Not Getting Complacent
There is the temptation at this point of the season for a team such as the 49ers to not take its remaining games seriously since it has the division title and won’t finish any worse than third place in the NFC.
This is where head coach Kyle Shanahan not only needs to establish the attitude that every remaining regular season game still matters, but that the team’s winning habits need to be reinforced, rather than giving his men an excuse to get away from such habits and play around with their work ethic as if it were a light switch.