GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Enemy territory is where the 49ers find themselves for Sunday's regular-season finale -- and most likely through their upcoming playoff run.
Running back Frank Gore doesn't mind.
"We're cool with it," Gore said recently. "If anybody's built (for road games), we are."
Playoff scenarios abound for where and when the 49ers (11-4) will resume their NFC title defense, once they finish the regular season Sunday against the playoff-hopeful Arizona Cardinals (10-5).
A Candlestick Park encore is doubtful, attainable only through NFC West magic in which the 49ers beat the Cardinals while the Seattle Seahawks (12-3) lose to the visiting St. Louis Rams (7-8).
The 49ers could emerge Sunday with the No.1, 2, 5 or 6 seed. Next weekend, they'll be in one of five places: home (with a first-round bye), Chicago, Dallas, Green Bay or Philadelphia. (More on those scenarios later.)
Regardless of what Sunday brings, they at least want to extend their five-game win streak for momentum's sake.
"You want to go into the playoffs with some hard, tough wins under your belt, on the road, and you want to peak at the right time," safety Donte Whitner said. "I feel like we're doing that."
Coach Jim Harbaugh's team didn't look fazed the past week by its uncertain playoff path, not after assuring at least a wild-card berth Monday night by beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-24.
Harbaugh said Friday that his team seemed "very focused" on the task at hand: the Cardinals, who can make the playoffs only by beating the 49ers and having the New Orleans Saints (10-5) lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11).
"As players and coaches, you don't control who you play, where you play, when you play," Harbaugh said. "The thing you control is how you play."
Gore echoed the 49ers' mentality over the past month by saying they're approaching their Arizona visit as if the postseason has come early.
"They're going to play like it's a playoff game, and we're going to treat it like a playoff game," Gore said.
This past week, the Cardinals haven't vented against a playoff structure in which they could be eliminated despite an 11-5 record. Coach Bruce Arians said it would be "crazy" to suggest division winners don't deserve automatic berths. Cornerback Patrick Peterson added, "We're not being little girls about it and moaning and things like that."
Don't expect the 49ers to whine about whatever playoff debut they draw. They've opened the past two postseasons at home in the divisional round. Last season, they won the NFC Championship in Atlanta before falling in Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans.
Here is a quick look at how the 49ers could get seeded:
No. 1: 49ers win at Cardinals, Seahawks lose to Rams, Panthers lose to Falcons.
No. 2: 49ers win, Seahawks lose.
No. 5: 49ers win; or, 49ers lose and Saints lose to Buccaneers.
No. 6: 49ers lose and Saints win.
Factoring into those seedings are six games: 49ers at Cardinals, Rams at Seahawks, Eagles at Cowboys, Packers at Bears, Panthers at Falcons, and Buccaneers at Saints.
Here is a look at the 49ers' five possible destinations next weekend as the playoffs begin:
-- Home. Formula: 49ers get No.1 or 2 seed, by winning along with losses by Seahawks and Panthers, or by just Seahawks. Outlook: The 49ers have won eight of their past nine against the Cardinals. The Rams' pass rush must key Seattle's second straight home loss after not losing there since December 2011. Can Tony Gonzalez's retirement party inspire the Falcons to get past the Panthers?
-- At Green Bay. Formula: 49ers get No.5 seed, Packers win. Outlook: Aaron Rodgers' return to Green Bay's lineup could spark a win at Chicago. The 49ers opened last season's playoffs by winning 45-31 over the Packers, whom they also beat in the past two regular-season openers.
-- At Chicago. Formula: 49ers get No.5 seed, Bears win and Eagles win; or, 49ers get No.6 seed, Bears win and Cowboys win. Outlook: The key here is if the Bears defense rebounds from a 54-11 loss at Philadelphia. If Bears first-year coach Marc Trestman gets eliminated, ex-49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo can say again: "He's gone." Harbaugh made his starting debut as Bears quarterback 25 years ago.
-- At Philadelphia. Formula: 49ers get No.6 seed, Eagles win. Outlook: The Eagles have won six of their past seven, and they'll face a Cowboys team making a quarterback switch from Tony Romo to Kyle Orton. The Eagles' Chip Kelly split his two meetings with Harbaugh when they were at Oregon and Stanford, in 2009 (51-42 Stanford) and 2010 (52-31 Oregon).
-- At Dallas. Formula: 49ers get No.5 seed, Bears win, Cowboys win; or, 49ers get No.6 seed, Packers win, Cowboys win. Outlook: While they change quarterbacks, the Cowboys also need a different look to their defense, which ranks 32nd in yards allowed. The 49ers and Cowboys have met seven times in the playoffs, but not since the 49ers won in the 1994 season NFC Championship game.
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