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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers are playing a succession of one-game seasons.
The Seattle Seahawks are playing every game like it’s the championship.
That’s the mindset for the NFC West rivals who play a critical game Thursday night at Levi’s Stadium, followed by a rematch in Seattle on Dec. 14.
“It’s unusual that you get to do that, but I’m sure both teams are going to work to make the most of it,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday on a conference call with the Bay Area media.
“It’s a great way the schedule comes down so heated in the division. It makes for such a dramatic finish for all the divisions, and certainly in the NFC West.”
The Arizona Cardinals lead the NFC West with a 9-1 record. The 49ers and Seahawks are 7-4, and playing for their postseason lives. The two best NFC teams last season – and the preseason favorites this year – are both in battles just to make it into January. Both Seattle and San Francisco also have one game remaining against the Cardinals.
With little margin for error, it does not change how the Seahawks, winners of last season’s Super Bowl, are approaching the final five games.
“We’d still be playing these games as championship games,” Carroll said. “That’s the way we look at it. If we were here and our record is different than it is, we’d be playing every one of these games like it’s the last game we get to play all year. That’s how we do it. And it doesn’t matter.
“We’d try to win every one of them. And we would never look for some cushy way into the playoffs. We don’t want to be a playoff team. We want to be a division champion. And so we’re going to continue to fight for that as long as there’s hope. We’ll take everything we can into every game.”