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The term “must win” was used a lot this week – usually in the form of a question.
Is this a must-win game for the 49ers?
Of course, it’s not. But a 49ers loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium does reduce their margin for error by one game for the rest of the season.
And there is another element that could have far-reaching effects beyond this season. The 49ers are at a pivotal point in the season. The mood in the locker room a combination of anger and frustration. With a third consecutive loss, it becomes more difficult to keep it together.
"(It was a) good week of work," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said on Friday. "(I) thought the meetings were good and good energy at practice."
And with that, we answer a couple pertinent questions . . .
So assuming Harbaugh doesn't bring home number six this year, do the Niners let him walk? (Chris Andrews)
CEO Jed York and Harbaugh spoke about a possible contract extension after the Super Bowl season. Nothing was accomplished. After last season, they spoke again. And, again, there was no contract agreement.
York and Harbaugh mutually decided to postpone all contract talks until after the season. That tells you all you need to know about the importance of this season. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which Harbaugh enters the final year of his 49ers contract (2015) without a new deal.
Harbaugh did impressive things in his first three seasons. He inherited a team that had not been to the playoffs in eight seasons and led it to the conference championship game in three consecutive seasons. Still, that success has not guaranteed Harbaugh a long-term stay with the 49ers.
If the 49ers do not value Harbaugh as a head coach, there are plenty of other NFL teams -- and a college program or two -- that would spare no expense to acquire his services.
How Harbaugh is perceived inside the locker room has very little bearing on his future with the 49ers. Believe it or not, the 49ers’ biggest stars were not always on board with Bill Walsh. The bigger factor – and what will determine Harbaugh’s future with the 49ers – is how 49ers management and ownership perceive him.
And that is an ongoing saga.
Why isn't Quinton Patton being used? (Alex Tran)
The 49ers have seven wide receivers on their 53-man roster. Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd are ahead of Patton on the depth chart as wide receivers. Kassim Osgood does not rank ahead of Patton as a wide receiver, but he ranks as one of the team’s active 46 because of his contributions on special teams. And while Bruce Ellington and Patton are close as receivers, Ellington gets the clear nod because he is the team’s top return man. That leaves Patton as the seventh of seven 49ers wide receivers.