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49ers seek to break long road playoff drought

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- For a team as storied as the San Francisco 49ers, it sure has been awhile since the last time they won a road playoff game.

Jan. 8, 1989, to be exact. The 49ers traveled to Chicago, where they beat the Bears 28-3 at Solider Field as a pit stop on their way to the Super Bowl title in New Orleans.

It wasn't until later that year when rookie running back LaMichael James was even born.

Coach Jim Harbaugh remembers it though, and for good reason. Harbaugh was a Bears backup quarterback at the time. He sat behind both Jim McMahon and Mike Tomczak on the depth chart -- both of whom appeared in the game.

"Yeah, I remember Jerry Rice catching a ball down the Niners sideline," Harbaugh said. "Cold as heck, we got whipped."

With his allegiance switched, Harbaugh would just assume history repeat itself Sunday when the team travels to Atlanta to play the Falcons in the NFC title game.

It it does, the team will have to buck another trend, which has hampered them all year. San Francisco has not won more than two games in a row all season. The entire season has been a win, win, non-win pattern.

Much like the road playoff losing streak, it seems merely coincidental, however that doesn't mean it's not noteworthy. One train of thought is that the win, win, non-win pattern is a result of losing a sense of urgency after big wins, but Harbaugh has refused to acknowledge that throughout the year.

"I feel that every week that you have that," he said. "I don't feel like it's been very much different whether we had a loss or a tie or a win the previous week."

The obvious stakes -- a Super Bowl berth -- should seemingly preclude any lack of urgency they might have experienced during the year. That being the case, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, this week's Sports Illustrated cover boy on the West Coast, hasn't changed his demeanor.

"I think it's just something you have to do in this playoff situation," he said. "You get one shot so you have to be on top of everything."
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