Matt & Mindi: 49ers need a first-round bye more than ever
SEATTLE -- Within the losing 49ers locker room Sunday night, there was some muffled laughing and joking about, presumably, non-football matters.
But in Frank Gore's corner, he could not muster a smile -- only positive thoughts after the 49ers' 42-13 thumping at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers came out with the intent of throwing the football, as evidenced by quarterback Colin Kaepernick's three consecutive incomplete passes to open the game. When the 49ers got the ball for a third possession, they were already down 14-0.
Gore was a non-factor throughout. He averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, but he carried just six times in the entire game for 28 yards.
"The score got out of reach and we had to try to make quick hits and that's what it was," Gore said.
Not much went right for the 49ers. They converted just 3 of 11 third-down attempts, while the Seahawks had their way with a Justin Smith-less 49ers defense. The Seahawks were successful on 11 of 13 third downs, including a kneeldown when the team was running out the clock at the end of the game.
It was a laugher, all right. Some players privately joked in the locker room, which seemed a little out of place, considering what occurred on the field just minutes earlier. But many of the 49ers' leaders struck entirely serious tones.
Kaepernick was in a sour mood throughout his clipped 2-minute, 33-second session with reporters. Safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Patrick Willis were among the veterans who spoke eloquently about bouncing back from the biggest loss of the Harbaugh era.
And Gore remarked on how all of the 49ers' season goals remain intact.
"We're all right," Gore said. "We know what kind of team we got. We got a good team. We got to bounce back next weekend and go forward in the postseason.
"No game is easy, but we're going to stay together as one, like we always do and keep fighting, and go get the goal we want to get."
Gore is the 49ers' best offensive player, and it only goes to reason that if he is held to six touches, the 49ers will not win.
The 49ers (10-4-1) now need a victory over the Arizona Cardinals and a Green Bay loss at Minnesota to gain the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. With the third seed, the 49ers would host a playoff game in the opening weekend and, with a victory, travel to Green Bay in the divisional round. If the 49ers win and the Packers win, the 49ers would be NFC West winners and the No. 3 seed. If the 49ers lose to the Cardinals and Seattle wins against St. Louis, the 49ers would enter the playoffs as a wild-card entry, the No. 5 seed.
Gore said coach Jim Harbaugh was emotional when he spoke to the team after Sunday's game. The message: In the big picture, the embarrassing loss to the Seahawks is no big deal if the 49ers take care of business.
"He knows what type of team he has, and we're going to stay together as a team, try to win next week and if don't get the No. 2 spot, we got to go on the road," Gore said.