The San Francisco 49ers are good enough on defense to weather an injury or two without slipping much.
Justin Smith and Patrick Willis are two defenders they simply could not replace, however, and with the playoffs approaching, getting Willis healthy stands as a top priority.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the hamstring injury Willis suffered during the 49ers' division-clinching victory against St. Louis does not appear to be serious. Maiocco: "Willis told CSN Bay Area's Mindi Bach that he would undergo an MRI. He walked out of the 49ers' locker room Sunday evening without any difficulty."
Also from Maiocco: 49ers president Jed York wants the team to keep pushing. York: "We won (with) a nice score today. There's still a lot of plays that we missed out there. There's still a lot of things that we need to do to get better, and that's what we have to instill in our guys. We haven't won anything, yet. We're two games behind the conference leader (Green Bay Packers) right now. There's a long way to go if you want to be the No. 1 seed. There are a lot of great teams in the NFC, and you have to keep your head down and keep working every day or else this doesn't mean anything."
More from Maiocco: Winning the NFC West was sweet for longer-tenured 49ers.
Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers kept this victory in its proper perspective. Ratto: "The 49ers have only cleaned off their rear-view mirrors. What lies ahead is what they're really after. The Packers. The Saints. The narrower, yet much wider world of football through the thin end of the funnel."
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa-Press Democrat says the 49ers have put to rest a decade of futility while coming closer together and rallying around their head coach.
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News has this to say about the 49ers: "This 49ers team, now a stunning 10-2, showcased once again Sunday that it is built to win tough games -- and certainly to dismantle bad teams such as the Rams. The 49ers offense started slowly, settling for three field goals, then ramped up the scoring power with long scoring plays in the second half. All along, even with inside linebacker Patrick Willis leaving early because of a hamstring injury, the 49ers defense dominated the Rams beyond all doubt."
Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News sees the 49ers' success through Frank Gore's eyes. Purdy: "Did the last three months really happen? They did. Gore let out a whoop. He decided raising his arms wasn't enough, not on a day when he set the all-time 49ers career rushing record and also clinched his first playoff trip, ever. And so Gore spontaneously grabbed a large 49ers flag, snatching it from Lucas Ortiz, a personal trainer from Mountain View who moonlights on weekends as one of those peppy-cheery-banner-running guys. Gore took his earned income and waved it. He waved the flag in one corner of the end zone, jogged to the other corner and did the same thing. He didn't want to let the flag go. He carried it down the dugout tunnel. He carried it into the locker room. A puzzled Ortiz tried to follow Gore and reclaim the flag, but failed."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Kyle Williams made a huge impact for the 49ers on Sunday.