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Seattle showdown has 49ers believing

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The next time you google the word “parity,” don’t be surprised if you see a new picture attached to the definition.

You know, the one of Quinton Patton doing a “Levi’s Leap” to celebrate a pending San Francisco 49ers victory that apparently has launched them from NFL laughingstock to playoff contender.

That seems to be the difference between 1-5 and 2-4 in the NFL this season.

And now here come the Seattle Seahawks, who also are 2-4 and surely nobody is writing them off as a possible playoff team.

So why shouldn’t that be the same for a team with the same record in the same division?

“(We’re) taking good energy and moving forward with it,” 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula proclaimed Monday, less than 24 hours after his club’s second win of the season — and first since opening day — a 25-20 thriller over the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s fitting that the Seahawks will be visiting Levi’s Stadium at this time of 49ers optimism. Because the last time the club was feeling this good about itself, Seattle ventured south for a Thursday game, just as it will do this week.

That other Thursday showdown was last Thanksgiving, when the 7-4 49ers were riding high and one big statement win from re-establishing themselves as a serious title contender. Instead, they fell flat on their faces in a 19-3 loss, and basically haven’t been heard from since.

Well, at least until this past Sunday, when a narrow home victory over a one-win team has them talking “big game.”

Seriously.

“We all know being in this area that this is a big game,” Tomsula assured. “We don’t make any bones about that.”

The 49ers do have a few reasons for optimism.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is playing his best football of the season, he’s flanked by an even better set of wideouts than the Super Bowl runner-up of 2012 employed, and their run defense has been almost impenetrable at home, having allowed three pretty good backs — Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Justin Forsett — a total of 183 yard in three games.

If the 49ers can add Marshawn Lynch to that list … well, no doubt the playoff talk will escalate.

“I wouldn’t expect,” Tomsula said, “that we’ve got to get anybody pumped up for this game.”

REPORT CARD VS. RAVENS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A-minus. The 49ers knew going in they needed to take advantage of the Ravens’ weak pass defense, and they did just that. QB Colin Kaepernick threw for 340 yards and spread the ball around brilliantly, finding wideout Torrey Smith for a 76-yard touchdown, hitting Anquan Boldin six times and mixing in three chains-moving completions to fullback Bruce Miller.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus. At least Carlos Hyde didn’t fumble. That’s about the only good thing to say about the 49ers’ running game. They were limited to just two first downs on the ground and a total of 65 rushing yards overall on 25 carries. Hyde, battling a sore foot, had 55 of those yards on 21 tries.

–PASS DEFENSE: B. Like the 49ers, the Ravens came into the game thinking they could pass the ball effectively against a bad pass defense. Joe Flacco did have some success, going 33-for-53 for 343 yards, but he also had two passes intercepted and came up short on a potential game-winning drive at the end.

–RUN DEFENSE: A-minus. The 49ers managed a respectable 27 minutes of possession despite never really getting their running game going. That’s testimony to the job their defensive front did against Justin Forsett and the Baltimore running game. Forsett was limited to 62 yards and the Ravens to 77 on 22 carries.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus. Punter Bradley Pinion didn’t have one of his better games, and return man Jarryd Hayne fumbled a punt (that the 49ers recovered). That said, special teams contributed as much to the win as any unit, as kicker Phil Dawson was perfect on four straight field-goal attempts, including a 53-yarder.

–COACHING: B. It’s all about winning winnable games, and that’s what head coach Jim Tomsula was able to accomplish Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. The coach then stood at the podium and sold the fact that his team, though just 2-4, was a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday away from being in playoff contention. Now the pressure’s really on.


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