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Around the NFC West: 49ers doing just fine

12/17/2012

On this morning after the San Francisco 49ers' critical victory at New England on Sunday night, let us consider the venues where the team has claimed victories in less than two full seasons under coach Jim Harbaugh.

Around the NFC West: Dec. 17, 2012

There are 11 of them not named Candlestick Park: Paul Brown Stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, Ford Field, FedEx Field, CenturyLink Field, the Edward Jones Dome, Lambeau Field, MetLife Stadium, University of Phoenix Stadium, the Superdome and Gillette Stadium.

This 41-34 victory over the New England Patriots at Gillette took pressure off the 49ers heading into their Week 16 game at Seattle, where an increasingly dangerous Seahawks team awaits. Beating the Patriots clinched the playoffs for San Francisco. It assured a second consecutive NFC West title with just one 49ers victory over the final two weeks, or with anything less than 2-0 for the Seahawks.

This victory over the Patriots also more firmly established Colin Kaepernick's credentials as the starting quarterback.

Those concerned about Kaepernick's four fumbles should not be. Weather conditions were brutal. Center Jonthan Goodwin faced a nightmarish matchup against nose tackle Vince Wilfork. The 49ers might never again enounter conditions more difficult for quarterback exchanges. And if the biggest concern for a quarterback is taking the snap from center on the sleet, the 49ers will be better off at the position than so many teams.

Kaepernick tossed four scoring passes in only his fifth NFL start. Former starter Alex Smith never threw more than three touchdown passes in 79 regular-season games and two playoff games. Kaepernick is one of 44 quarterbacks to do it during the regular season since 2005. Twenty-two of the 44 have done it more than once.

That Kaepernick would do it in his fifth start, at New England, with a playoff berth on the line, with a game-winning touchdown pass to foil an all-time great Tom Brady comeback? Yeah, the 49ers will take that.