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When the 49ers inspired a classic eye-roll

Let's give former New York Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce credit for suggesting a couple months back that the San Francisco 49ers would beat out New Orleans for the NFC's second playoff seed.

Pierce's comments triggered a memorable reaction from fellow ESPN analyst Merril Hoge.

I'd forgotten about the Pierce-Hoge exchange until 49ers fans such as @slder78 brought it up following the 49ers' 36-32 victory over the Saints in the divisional playoff round.

Pierce and Hoge were debating the 49ers' credentials right before San Francisco secured the No. 2 spot in ESPN's NFL Power Rankings heading into November.

Hoge flashed a classic eye roll when Pierce said he thought the 49ers would finish 12-4 (actual record: 13-3) and ahead of New Orleans. Hoge pointed to a weak NFC West as one reason the 49ers should not be taken too seriously. The 49ers were 6-1 at the time.

"I'm sorry, Merril," Pierce said. "I'm going to have to cut you off. They have only beaten one team in their division. The other five wins, outside their division. Tampa Bay, Detroit. They've played some good teams and put a smacking on them."

Hoge came around. He picked the 49ers to beat the Saints last week.

A look through Hoge's weekly 49ers picks shows he actually thought they would go 13-3. He picked against them only twice -- against the Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers -- after the 49ers got to 6-1.