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SAN FRANCISCO — First off, give the 49ers a big atta boy.


Because they beat the Rams 23-13 on Sunday, and now they are riding a two-game win streak and they currently hold a wild-card playoff spot. And if you say — dare to mention — the two-game streak came against bottom-feeder teams, well, shame on you.

You may think wins over chump opponents like the Redskins and Rams mean absolutely nothing. Such a thought is lacking in perspective, bordering on narrow-minded and just plain mean. I, for one, learned a great deal from the Rams' game, stuff of an educational nature.

What I learned applies to next Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks — not a bottom feeder — come to Candlestick, and the Niners have to put up or shut up, as they say. Next Sunday's game is BIG as in humongous. It's not big enough to be for the division or anything like that. That ship sailed. But the game will show the 49ers' pedigree, their level of expertise, their playoff readiness.

So, you bet, I am looking ahead to that game. That's what this column is, a looker-aheader. I mean, no one in his right mind actually wants to read or write about the Rams' game, a total snooze-fest.

I am picking the Seahawks to defeat the 49ers. I offer this opinion humbly, tremblingly and with the reminder that I cannot see into the future and could be all wet.

I bring up the Seahawks game because it is the real issue, the only issue right now. How the Niners played against the Rams (Lambs?) predicts how they will play against Seattle. The 49ers have trouble beating good teams. You could see why based on how they played the Rams. So far, the Niners have beaten only one good team, the Packers who may not be a good team.

You with me?

This is what I noticed in the Rams' game.

I noticed the 49ers have trouble scoring touchdowns. It's an axiom that touchdowns are better than field goals. The Niners better score TDs against the Seahawks or they (the Niners) are toast, corn bread or matzo — choose your bread analogy.

The 49ers scored exactly one touchdown against St. Louis when the game, such as it was, was still a game. They scored a second one when the game was not still a game and it came after a botched Rams' fake punt that left the Niners breathing on the Rams' end zone.

Because the Niners did not — and do not — score tons of TDs, the game that shouldn't have been a game actually was a game deep into the third quarter, the Niners leading 13-6. Such skimpy TD production won't be good enough against the high-flying Seahawks — no matter what happens tonight between them and the Saints.

I noticed the 49ers don't run the ball so well — or if you want me to write in sports talk, they don't run so good. Frank Gore, who has been called their "bell cow," ran for 42 yards and averaged a measly 2.8 yards a carry, and mostly looked like a masochist who got knocked down and then popped up eager to get knocked down again. The Seahawks will be happy to play the sadist in next week's drama.

I noticed the entire left side of the 49ers' offensive line is hurt — I'm talking Joe Staley and Mike Iupati. After the game, Staley seemed to be wearing a brace under his right pants leg and, when he walked, he walked stiff-legged like a pirate with a wooden leg. You half-expected him to ejaculate "Ahoy there, mate," while a parrot perched on his shoulder also ejaculating, "Ahoy there, mate."

It's never a good idea to have 2/5 of your offensive line missing in action against Seattle. Or to have a parrot on your shoulder when you play football.

I noticed Anquan Boldin went absolutely nuts against St. Louis — nine catches for 98 yards. Boldin is a very good receiver. About him Jim Harbaugh said, "Wow!" But good cornerbacks can muffle, ruffle and snuffle Boldin. Think the Seahawks' Richard Sherman who owns him and routinely turns Boldin, 33, into "Oldin."

I noticed the 49ers' defense played splendidly against the Rams. That's because the 49ers' defense is splendid. It really is. It's just that in two prior games against the Seahawks, the Niners got murdered 29-3 and 42-13 and the San Francisco defense wasn't so hot.

I guess I'm asking this: If the 49ers' defense stifled the Rams, does that indicate they will stifle the Seahawks?

It could give you pause.

I noticed the past two weeks the Niners' defense played two of the worst quarterbacks on earth, Robert Griffin III and whatsisname Kellen Clemens, a 30-year-old career backup who's playing because Sam Bradford got hurt. Clemens routinely missed receivers, made such bad throws you found words involuntarily escaping your mouth, words like golly, holy mackerel, you're kidding me and most of all off-color stuff like @#$%&.

I guarantee the Seahawks' Russell Wilson is better than whatsisname.

After the game, Harbaugh filtered into the interview room, Harbaugh in a cheerful mood, Harbaugh enjoying the post-victory glow.

He was so happy he decided to mention a very few players, a select few who played well: Vernon Davis, Colin Kaerpernick, Glenn Dorsey, Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Donte Whitner, Andy Lee, Boldin, and the entire special teams unit.

He might have mentioned more guys than he left out. Was he sending a message to, say, Anthony Davis that he better be careful? Was he subtly dumping on Mario Manningham?

"That was a tough opponent and (with) all the pressure of the high stakes of this time of year, I thought our guys answered the bell for this one," Harbaugh said with a straight face.

Big game?

What big game?

The Rams?

And then Harbaugh got around to Seattle, a bona fide big game. Someone asked if his team has the right momentum for the challenge.

"It's just by whatever means necessary," the coach said. "We're going to the next game prepared and know what the stakes are, know what the pressure is, what the task is. That's' life-giving energy to a football player, to a team. And we're in the position we're in and we control our own destiny and here we go."

Here they go, indeed. The 49ers could make a major statement next Sunday, silence doubters like me. Can they?

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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