The San Francisco 49ers regained the No. 2 seed with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, coupled with a loss by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon. The developments give the 49ers a bye in the first round of the playoffs, which is significant for Justin Smith's recovery.
The lineman, arguably the key cog in the 49ers' stout defensive unit, sat out the past two games with a partially torn triceps muscle. Smith, along with the team in general, can use the bye to return to full strength.
The bye could also possibly serve as a week for San Francisco to figure out its kicking situation. Fans were frustrated with David Akers' performance on Sunday when the kicker failed to convert on two field goal attempts fewer than 50 yards. Akers has missed at least one field goal in each of the 49ers' final eight games of the season.
Regardless, the bye week will be welcomed, according to Niners Nation:
For now, though, we get to take a moment to relax and enjoy a hard fought division title and bye. The 49ers have a lot of work to do if they want to make any sort of noise in the playoffs. Fortunately, they have time to assess things and make some adjustments.