Seahawks, 49ers expect to scoreboard-watch in season finale

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Seattle Seahawks need a win Sunday to help secure the best possible playoff seeding.

Fortunately for the NFC West champs, they are scheduled to play their favorite opponent.

The Seahawks will seek to earn a first-round bye in the first round of the upcoming playoffs when they visit a team they have beaten six straight times, the San Francisco 49ers.

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Seattle (9-5-1) has clinched no worse than the fourth playoff seeding in the NFC, which guarantees at least one home game.

The Seahawks need a win and a New Orleans Saints victory over the Atlanta Falcons (10-5) to leap-frog the NFC South champs and claim the second seed in the conference, which is rewarded with a first-round bye.

A Seattle loss would assure a No. 4 seeding behind the winner of Sunday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, both of whom will take the field with a 9-6 record.

The Packers-Lions victor will win the NFC North, while the loser could fall completely out of the playoffs, depending upon how the Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers do in their games.

That's potentially a lot of scoreboard-watching for the Seahawks, who will take the field knowing a win can do nothing but good things in their playoff seeding.

The scenarios might be complicated, but beating the 49ers in recent years hasn't been nearly as difficult. The Seahawks have held San Francisco to a total of 44 points in their last five meetings, winning all five.

Those five games came in the wake of Seattle's 23-17 triumph over the 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

San Francisco has been in steady decline ever since. A seventh straight loss to Seattle would assure the 49ers (2-13) no worse than the No. 2 pick in the May draft.

San Francisco also has some scoreboard-watching to do Sunday: A loss coupled with a Cleveland win over Pittsburgh would earn the 49ers the first pick in the draft.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick insisted this week he has no interest in the Seahawks' playoff situation or the 49ers' potential draft positions. He just wants to win the club's season finale.

"My focus once again is this week and making sure that I'm doing everything I can to prepare and to try to help my teammates prepare this week to get a win," he told reporters Tuesday. "That's where this whole team's focus is."

The game might do more than simply end Kaepernick's season. It also could end his 49ers career.

As part of a contract renegotiation in October, the former Super Bowl starter earned the right to opt-out of the remainder of his deal in the offseason. He has not disclosed his future plans.

The 49ers also could be 60 minutes away from parting ways with coach Chip Kelly, whose team endured the longest losing streak in franchise history (13 straight) before rallying past the Los Angeles Rams 22-21 last week.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, a San Francisco native, knows what it's like to be fired after one NFL season. He was terminated after a single 6-10 campaign with the New York Jets in 1994.

In a conference call with the San Francisco Bay Area media on Wednesday, Carroll seemed to be speaking to 49ers decision-makers when praising Kelly.

"He's an extremely successful coach," Carroll insisted. "He knows exactly what he's doing. He's been at the top of the game when he's had his opportunity. He's shown it in the NFL and college."

Carroll and Kelly dueled once earlier this season, with the Seahawks prevailing 37-18 on Sept. 25 in a game in which Kaepernick did not play.

Seattle limited 49ers starter Blaine Gabbert to just 119 passing yards in his third of five starts before being benched in favor of Kaepernick.