San ran­cisco ins est

9ers ro ast ar­dina s to earn first-ro nd ye

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - A

SAN AN IS O Barech­ested Joe Sta­ley and Mike Iu­pati jumped up and down wear­ing only their shorts, each of­fen­sive line­man do­ing his best to will the Vik­ings to vic­tory from afar.

The 49ers — sport­ing fresh red NFC West cham­pion caps af­ter beat­ing the Ari­zona Car­di­nals 2713 on Sun­day — crammed into the cozy con­fines of their locker room and be­came Min­nesota’s fiercest cross-coun­try cheer­ing sec­tion. When Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal sailed through the up- rights for the Vik­ings as time ex­pired to give San Fran­cisco a play­off bye, the tiny dress­ing area in Can­dle­stick Park’s south cor­ner erupted into a crazy, cel­e­bra­tory scene.

“C’mon, baby, bye week!” shouted de­fen­sive tackle Ricky Jean Fran­cois.

The Vik­ings cer­tainly de­served some thanks. So did Michael Crab­tree.

Crab­tree’s ca­reer day and daz­zling catch-mak­ing dis­play sent San Fran­cisco to a sec­ond straight di­vi­sion ti­tle and into the play­offs with some much­needed mo­men­tum.

Crab­tree caught touch­down passes of 49 and 7 yards and fin­ished with a ca­reer-high 172 yards on eight re­cep­tions, lead­ing the 49ers to an­other rout of Ari­zona af­ter a slow start.

Colin Kaeper­nick threw for a ca­reer-best 276 yards and two TDs as the Nin­ers (11-4-1) did their part to con­trol their post­sea­son fate — then watched Min­nesota beat Green Bay and give San Fran­cisco the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a week off be­fore host­ing a di­vi­sional play­off game.

Frank Gore ran for a 2-yard score early in the fourth quar­ter for his fran­chise-best 51st touch­down rush­ing.

Michael Crab­tree had a ca­reer best re­cei ing yards.

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