SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A dramatic comeback against Arizona has assured the San Francisco 49ers of their first winning season in six years.
The next three games will go a long way to determining whether the 49ers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender or merely a pleasant surprise.
San Francisco has little time to revel in a 16-point comeback against the Cardinals that was the team’s biggest in the regular season in eight years. Because soon after that 36-26 victory was complete on Sunday, attention turned to a three-game gauntlet against a trio of first-place teams in Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans.
It all starts on Sunday night when the 49ers host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
“This is why you play football for this kind of a stretch,” right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “We put ourselves in a pretty solid position here, but it means nothing if we don’t get our jobs done over these next few weeks.”
After rolling to eight straight wins to open the season, things haven’t been nearly as easy the past two weeks. San Francisco lost 27-24 in overtime to Seattle on Nov. 11 in a physical battle that left a toll on the players.
That contributed to a slow start against the Cardinals. But San Francisco managed to rally from a 16-0 hole to score the go-ahead touchdown on Jimmy Garoppolo’s 25-yard pass to Jeff Wilson Jr. in the final minute against Arizona.
“It was a bunch of highs and lows in that game and it was a little bit exhausting, but we enjoyed it,” coach Kyle Shanahan said.
281. Garoppolo did almost all of his damage in the passing game on underneath throws and screens. San Francisco gained 281 yards after the catch, the most by a team in a single game since 2014.
The 49ers host Green Bay on Sunday night.