The 49ers locked in the No. 5 playoff seed with a win at Arizona and wins by Seattle and Carolina on Sunday.
The back-and-forth battle ended when Phil Dawson kicked a game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the 49ers a 23-20 victory over the Cardinals and their six consecutive win.
The 49ers (12-4) will travel to Lambeau Field to take on the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) next weekend in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
If the 49ers win in Green Bay, they would go to Seattle to face the Seahawks.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh will lead the 49ers into the postseason for the third straight year, but held off on comparing this team to the past two.
“I don’t like to compare the teams. I feel great about our guys, I love them.”
Colin Kaepernick completed 21-of-34 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 24 yards on four carries.
Vernon Davis hauled in his 13th touchdown reception of the season, while Anquan Boldin went into beast mode against his former team catching nine balls for 149 yards and a touchdown along with an 11-yard run.
Boldin’s performance prompted big praise from Harbaugh:
“What a football player … leadership, big-play ability, competitiveness.”
San Francisco’s ground game wasn’t good though, mustering just 83 total yards. Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon combined for just 22 yards on 17 attempts.
No. 3 rookie wideout Quinton Patton accounted for the bulk of the 49ers rushing yards on a 26-yard end around in the first quarter. Patton added two catches, including the crucial sideline grab to set up Dawson’s game winner.
NaVorro Bowman again led the defense with 10 tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Dawson made a 27-yarder in the first quarter, but missed a 24-yard chip shot heading into the half to end his streak of 27 consecutive makes. Concerning the miss he said:
“Just poor execution on my part.”
He later connected on a 56-yarder with 1:45 left to give San Francisco a 20-17 lead.
Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Co. marched downfield on the next possession. A Justin Smith penalty set up a Jay Feely a 43-yard field goal, which he made after missing his two previous attempts.
But Kaepernick and the offense took just 29 seconds to gain 42 yards in three plays to set up Dawson for the win.