49ers players go nuts in tunnel watching Eagles blow their game

Fred Warner celebrates after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Washington Commanders on Dec. 31, 2023. Warner would then celebrate even harder in the tunnel when the 49ers clinched the NFC’s top seed.

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

When the 49ers got crushed by the Ravens on Christmas night, it seemed like the battle for the NFC’s No. 1 seed would last to Week 18. But in perhaps the most improbable fashion, the 49ers will have the top spot locked up before the calendar flips to 2024, thanks to … the Arizona Cardinals?

It was the Niners’ NFC West rivals who helped seal the top spot and a wild card weekend bye for San Francisco on Sunday, as the Cardinals went into Philadelphia and stunned the Eagles, 35-31. It meant that the 49ers’ 27-10 win over the Commanders, which was locked up about 20 minutes prior to the end of the game in Philly, officially clinched the 49ers both the top spot in the NFC and home field advantage through to the Super Bowl. 


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Several reporters at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., also noted that a loud cheer was heard in the locker room once the Eagles’ last-second hail Mary pass was intercepted to seal the Cardinal win.

The 49ers were also helped out on Saturday night by perhaps the most controversial moment of the NFL season, when referees at the Lions-Cowboys game apparently incorrectly stated which lineman reported as eligible to receive a pass on a two-point conversion attempt that would have won Detroit the game. The Lions entered Week 17 tied with the 49ers at 11-4 but needed to finish ahead of San Francisco because of tiebreakers, so the penalty led to a 20-19 loss.


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It’s a wild turn of events for the 49ers since Monday night, when the AFC’s No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens came to Levi’s Stadium and blew out the Niners. But instead of reaping the benefits of clinching by Christmas, the 49ers got it done by New Year’s Eve — and can choose get to rest any weary members of the team in their Week 18 matchup with the Rams to try and get healthy for a Super Bowl run.


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