Linebacker Aldon Smith loves playing in prime time. It takes him back to how he spent so many Friday nights in high school under the lights.
Niners teammates Anthony Dixon, Joe Staley and others become similarly nostalgic when they take the field these days with the football spotlight on them.
“Under the lights, you knew it was showtime,” Smith said. “It’s just that feeling you get again from being under that spotlight.”
Aside from the good vibes and youthful memories, the 49ers (10-3-1) sure seem to thrive on the NFL’s big stage. They are 5-0 this season in prime time, with another Sunday night game coming up at Seattle and a chance to clinch a second consecutive NFC West crown.
“Those Friday night lights, when I’m feeling like that, I feel like the other team is in trouble,” Dixon said Tuesday. “Back in those high school days, most of us, we were unstoppable. I love that feeling.”
San Francisco wants to keep its own good feeling going right into January.
For running back Frank Gore, Sunday night’s surprising 41-34 victory at New England was a big step toward what he hopes is another special postseason run — with one more game, that is: the Super Bowl. San Francisco lost in overtime of January’s NFC title game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
“We know that we had to get a win going against a great team in New England,” Gore said. “We let everybody know what type of team we are. We came out, we started out fast as a team and got the big win.”
Next up will be stopping a Seattle team that has gone off for 50 points in back-to-back games behind rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
San Francisco is 64-32 in night games, including 26-17 on the road and 13-9 on Sundays.
“Love prime time games,” Staley posted on Twitter before Sunday night’s win.
“I don’t mind ’em,” wideout Randy Moss said, unwilling to elaborate when asked follow-up questions.
San Francisco won at Arizona on Monday night on Oct. 29, then again on Monday night at home against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 19. They won a Sunday night game against the Lions at Candlestick Park in September, and against Seattle on a Thursday night game Oct. 18.
NOTES: Harbaugh said on his radio show Tuesday he expects defensive lineman Justin Smith to play after he sustained an arm injury against the Patriots and had an MRI exam. It would be his 186th straight start. … Receiver Mario Manningham offered little update regarding his injured right shoulder that kept him out the last two games. “I’m getting there,” he said. … Sunday’s game against the Patriots drew 23.2 million viewers on NBC, the second-most watched Sunday night game of the season.