The 49ers are wounded, they are uncertain, and they are headed into the playoffs nevertheless.
Great things, of course, could happen for Jim Harbaugh's team once the 49ers move past Sunday's regular-season tap-in against Arizona.
They are talented, they have some great, grinding victories, and we know that Patrick Willis, Dashon Goldson, Mike Iupati and others won't go softly into the night.
But thanks to a few major injuries and other issues, the 49ers probably aren't the same matchup nightmare that they were last year.
Frankly, it's easier to figure out whom and what the 49ers want to avoid in the postseason than find teams that most want could use some extra rest, the 49ers don't want to lose the bye week.
But they'll have to play next weekend if Green Bay wins the No. 2 seed by beating Minnesota on Sunday.
With Justin Smith a major question mark because of his elbow injury and memories of Marshawn Lynch running through them in Seattle last Sunday, the 49ers don't want to face a strong running attack in the early going.
But there's a chance they'll draw Washington's dual threat of tailback Alfred Morris and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
With QB Colin Kaepernick still figuring things out and tight end Vernon Davis recovering from a concussion, the 49ers don't want to meet a smart and strong defensive team -- or deal with a series of them just to get to the NFC title game.
But they could
Or the 49ers could face the New York Giants -- and even in a down year for the Giants, the 49ers probably don't want any part of them if they can help it.
Or, if all goes awry, the 49ers could lose to Arizona on Sunday (incredibly doubtful, I know) and leave the division title for Seattle.
Other than galling Harbaugh no end to lose out to Pete Carroll, this also would set up the possibility of the 49ers traveling back to CenturyLink Field at some point in January.
Talk about a nightmare scenario.
Those are a lot of things the 49ers want to avoid, more things than you'd expect for a 10-4-1 team, I must say.
Essentially, the 49ers' most fervent wishes come down to two and only two things:
That would possibly set up a Green Bay-49ers divisional round game at Candlestick in two weeks, and the 49ers beat the Packers in Green Bay in Week 1 of the regular season.
Of course, that was with Alex Smith playing his best, but oh well ...
Chicago would get the No. 6 seed -- and the 49ers matchup -- if the Bears beat Detroit and Minnesota loses to Green Bay.
I repeat: This is not at all like the way the 49ers headed into last season's playoffs as the No. 2 seed, when they were mostly healthy and matched up well against every team ... except the Giants.
This season? The 49ers will be the team with the least-experienced quarterback in the playoffs, and they have no idea what they can get out of Justin Smith when January arrives.
But it does come down to the same baseline goals for the 49ers, as it probably always will under Harbaugh: No matter whom the QB is, the 49ers win when they can run the ball and stop the run.
The 49ers have outrushed their opponents 27 times in the two-season Harbaugh era (including playoffs), and they are 23-3-1 in those games.
They've been outrushed by their opponents only six times in that span, and are 2-4 when that happens.
This season, the 49ers are 0-3 when they've been outrushed -- in losses to Minnesota, the Giants and Seattle.
To that theme, there are only three teams currently ahead of the 49ers in rushing yards per game: Washington (No. 1), Seattle (No. 2) and Minnesota (No. 3).
These are the teams that could be the most dangerous for the 49ers. And Green Bay and Atlanta serve up their own challenges, too.
So, yes, the 49ers look a little vulnerable in several different ways.
It doesn't mean the 49ers are in trouble; it just means they'll have to wind their way through some extra issues, under extra pressure.