The 49ers sit atop the NFC with a 10-3 record, but the team couldn't be as good as it is without some key contributions by some of the unsung heroes on the roster.
The San Francisco 49ers hit the last month of the regular season with one goal in mind, keep control of the No. 1 seed at all costs and ensure the run to the Super Bowl goes through the Bay Area.
The easiest way to do this is to keep control of its own destiny. If it wins out with games at the Arizona Cardinals, at home against the Baltimore Ravens, at the Washington Commanders and at home against the Los Angeles Rams, then it can't lose control of the No. 1 seed.
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Encouragingly, its two road games are against the two weakest teams in the Cardinals and Commanders and its two home games are against the toughest opponent against the Ravens and Rams. Not the easiest schedule, but nowhere near impossible.
One reason why the 49ers are currently atop the NFC is that many backups have stepped up in key situations, making big impacts and causing the dropoff to be minimal to nil. We're here to acknowledge these unsung heroes today.
Backup who stepped up No. 1: Jon Feliciano, Guard
Jon Feliciano joined the team in free agency as a backup interior lineman, to shore up a position that was in need of some much needed depth. As it turned out, this was a very wise decision by general manager John Lynch.
Feliciano has exceeded expectations, starting at both left and right guard as needed and performing to a high level. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has also sung his praises and highlighted that Feliciano has earned more playing time.
Sometimes it's the little acquisitions that make the most impact. Feliciano could very well have earned his way to becoming a starter on the most explosive offense in the NFL, and at the very least is now a valued and versatile backup that the 49ers can entrust to slot in at either guard position, or even at center.