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CEO Jed York Met 49ers in Locker Room After Commanders Game Indicating NFC’s No.1 Seed

Drew Ogletree (Credits: NFL)

After their victory over the Washington Commanders on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers were met in their locker room by team CEO Jed York, who shared a crucial update: the Arizona Cardinals had just secured a late lead against the Philadelphia Eagles.

This outcome meant that the 49ers were on the verge of clinching the NFC’s top seed, along with the coveted first-round bye and home-field advantage.

Inside the confines of FedEx Field, the 49ers players and coaches crowded around a small television set, anxiously watching the final seconds of the Eagles game. When Jalen Hurts’ last-ditch throw was intercepted, the locker room erupted in cheers and jubilation.

“With the win today, the Cardinals beating Philly, and the Cowboys’ controversial win last night,” quarterback Brock Purdy reflected, “it was special to experience that kind of moment. I’ve seen teams celebrate like that on TV growing up, and now we were all gathered around a small TV in the locker room. It was surreal.”

This marks the 10th time in franchise history, and the first since their Super Bowl appearance in 2019, that the 49ers have secured the NFC’s top seed, a record unmatched in NFL history.

Throughout their history, whenever they’ve held the top seed, they’ve gone on to win the Super Bowl four times.

Since last season’s bitter NFC Championship Game loss to the Eagles, the 49ers have always recognized the significance of securing the No. 1 seed. After finally achieving it on Sunday, they openly discussed the numerous advantages it offers.

“It’s a big deal,” emphasized defensive end Nick Bosa. “Getting that No. 1 seed gives you a great chance to reach our ultimate goal, which is where we want to be.”

Foremost among the advantages is the extra rest. By securing the top seed, the 49ers bypass the wild-card weekend and also have the luxury of potentially resting key players in their Week 18 regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Coach Kyle Shanahan underscored the importance of this rest period, especially with the team’s mounting injuries. Over the past eight games following their Week 9 bye, the 49ers have played their best football, winning seven of them by an average margin of 18.6 points.

Drew Ogletree (Credits: NFL)

“It’s huge,” Shanahan acknowledged. “These last couple of weeks, we’ve been dealing with several injuries in key positions. Some guys have had to play through a lot. Hopefully, this break will help them recover.”

As they headed into Sunday’s game against the Washington Commanders, the 49ers were already missing several key players due to injuries, including Aaron Banks, Arik Armstead, Ji’Ayir Brown, Jauan Jennings, and Ray-Ray McCloud.

Additionally, running back Christian McCaffrey exited in the third quarter with a calf injury, though he assured reporters afterward that it was precautionary.

“It was a minor issue, and I didn’t want to risk aggravating it further,” McCaffrey stated. “With the playoffs coming up, it was the smart decision.”

Now with the luxury of time to allow McCaffrey and other injured players to heal, Shanahan noted that decisions on playing time for starters against the Rams are forthcoming, balancing rest with the necessity of fielding a competitive team.

“We’ll look to rest some guys, but we also need to field a team,” Shanahan explained. “We have a lot to improve on, and the only way to do that is through practice and playing.”

Beyond the rest, securing the top seed means the 49ers won’t have to travel again until potentially the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, provided they advance. Considering their extensive travel schedule this season, including numerous trips across different time zones, this is another significant advantage of clinching the top spot.

“It’s been tough with all the travel this season,” cornerback Charvarius Ward admitted. “But now, teams have to come to Levi’s Stadium, and we’re determined to dominate here.”

With their eyes set firmly on the ultimate prize, the 49ers will use their top seed status to maximize their chances of returning to the Super Bowl and bringing another championship home to San Francisco.

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