SANTA CLARA — Bruce Arians will be in multitasking mode more than usual today.
The Cardinals’ coach plans to scoreboard watch and follow the St. Louis-Seattle game with keen interest. How that game is going might determine how he strategizes and uses his players against the 49ers given the NFC West title is on the line.
While it seems most possible that Arizona will earn the No. 5 seed, the Cardinals (11-4) need to beat the 49ers (7-8) and have the Rams win at Seattle to claim the division.
There’s a little added incentive for playoff-qualified Arizona, too.
“We definitely want to win because the franchise has never won 12 in the regular season,” Arians said. “We want to be able to have our little piece of history with this football team, and then decide also to be smart for next week.”
San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh is likely coaching his final game for the franchise, with the sides expected to part ways shortly after the season ends.
The 49ers (7-8) try to snap a four-game losing streak — their first under Harbaugh — and avoid a losing record.
“I think that’s where everyone’s mind is at,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “We want to win this last game and make sure, even though we can’t get into the playoffs, that we finish the season right.”
And since the season hasn’t gone right, this is likely Harbaugh’s final hurrah.
Harbaugh could be out as soon as hours after game’s end, or Monday. He has one season remaining on his $25 million, five-year contract, but the relationship between him and CEO Jed York seems to have worn thin. Harbaugh has kept his mouth shut all season through the speculation about his future, saying this week: “The high road’s the only road I know. Let’s keep on that way.”
Harbaugh will command plenty of interest and his alma mater, Michigan, has reportedly already expressed such interest. The Raiders could be another suitor.
“It’s very shocking to me. Jimmy’s done an unbelievable job,” Arians said. “One bad season shouldn’t deter from what they’ve built there.”