49ers closing in on playoff berth

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers are 10-4, have won four straight games and nine of their past 11 games, but they are not in the NFC playoffs.

Not yet. But they are moving closer.

The 49ers can qualify for the playoffs for the third time in three years under coach Jim Harbaugh if either the Arizona Cardinals lose at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday or if the 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night in the final regular season game at Candlestick Park.

Yes, the 49ers may be rooting for Seattle. The Seahawks have plenty to play for at home against the Cardinals as they try to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

While the 49ers' path to the playoffs is clear, their opponent in the first round is not. The 49ers are on pace to be the No. 6 seed and would play at the Philadelphia Eagles if the playoffs began now. If the 49ers beat Atlanta and then win at Arizona in Week 17, they will be the No. 5 seed.

Right now, their first-round game could be a game at any city in this group: Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay and Dallas.