No easing up for playoff-bound 49ers

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesNo time to rest: Frank Gore and the Niners won the NFC West on Sunday. They will play three of their next four games on the road.

A day after the 49ers’ celebration at Candlestick Park, Jim Harbaugh was back in Santa Clara, but he wasn’t resting on the success of his already-playoff-bound team.

“We’re not in a position to rest,” Harbaugh said. “The improvement equals success. Improvement will lead to wins and wins will lead to championships.”

<P align=left>The 49ers (10-2) are already guaranteed to host a home game in the postseason after clinching their first NFC West title since 2002, and now are trying to secure a first-round bye.

The defense only allowed 157 yards in the team’s 26-0 win against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and has seemed to get better with each passing week.

Harbaugh said the linebacker corps was outstanding even without Patrick Willis, who left early with a hamstring injury.

“The outside backers were excellent,” Harbaugh said. “Aldon [Smith] did some things that were dominant at times.”

Smith picked up two more sacks and now has 9½ on the season, only 2½ short of tying Charles Haley’s team rookie record for sacks.

Not to be outdone, Larry Grant also got much praise from his first-year head coach.

“You could hear his play [Sunday] from the sidelines,” Harbaugh said. “He plays hard, takes pride in his own personal performance. You expect it.”

Grant picked up five tackles and a sack of his own against St. Louis.

As the season has progressed, the offense has started to take more chances down the field. That was evident Sunday as Alex Smith hit two long touchdown passes, one to Michael Crabtree and the other to Kyle Williams, who turned a short play into a long score.

“You want that in your arsenal,” Harbaugh said. “I think we got the guys to do it. It was nice to see us execute it.”

Smith’s touchdown passes -Sunday were for 52 and 56 yards, part of his 274 passing yards on the day.

The 49ers draw Arizona next and finish the season with three of the last four games on the road against divisional opponents.

Monday’s weekly news conference was pushed back three hours so players and coaches could attend the funeral for former Raiders defensive lineman and Stanford coach Chester McGloclton, who died Wednesday.

 

GAME DAY

49ers (10-2) vs. Cardinals (5-7)

WHEN: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

TV: Fox (KTVU, Ch. 2)

RADIO: KNBR (680 AM), KSAN (107.7 FM)

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