The Arizona Cardinals still have a chance to win the NFC West, though their situation at quarterback could remain a complete unknown until just prior to kickoff.
The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, are closing out the season with a proven commodity as their coach ??? for now.
Rookie Logan Thomas was slated to make his first career start for the visiting Cardinals on Sunday in what could be Jim Harbaugh's final game as 49ers coach, but Arizona coach Bruce Arians may have changed his mind about who will be under center.
Arizona (11-4) could have gained the West crown and the top seed in the NFC last Sunday but was routed 35-6 at home by Seattle, which forged a tie atop the division.
The Cardinals now must defeat the 49ers (7-8) and hope the Seahawks stumble at home against St. Louis in order to capture the division.
"It's not the end of the world," Arians said. "Obviously, we would have liked to have it they easy way, but our goals haven't changed."
What briefly changed was that Arians demoted Ryan Lindley, who fell to 1-4 in his career as a starter after completing 18 of 44 passes for 216 yards with one interception last weekend. Lindley has never thrown a TD pass in 225 attempts with eight interceptions.
Arians had said Monday he was leaning toward Thomas and then told a local radio station that the rookie would start. Arizona has no touchdowns in its last two games.
"We need to find out what he can do for the future and the playoffs, if it were to come to that," Arians said. "That's my job - to make sure that we cover every base."
However, reports surfaced Thursday saying Arians had gone back to favoring Lindley, who worked with the No. 1 unit in the brief portion of the day's practice that was open to reporters. Arians did not address the media afterward and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin was less than forthcoming about the matter.
"I guess we'll see on Sunday," Goodwin said.
The dilemma may not be one the Cardinals have to endure since they're still hoping to get Drew Stanton back for the playoffs. The veteran hurt his knee Dec. 11 after getting the job when Carson Palmer went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Thomas, a fourth-round pick out of Virginia Tech, took one snap Sunday and threw an incomplete pass. His only other action was when he went 1 for 8 with an 81-yard touchdown strike to running back Andre Ellington - who is also out for the season - in relief of Stanton in a 41-20 loss Oct. 5 at Denver.
The future for Harbaugh appears to be elsewhere even though he guided the 49ers to the NFC title game in each of his first three seasons with one Super Bowl appearance before missing the playoffs this year.
He turned 51 on Tuesday and received a congratulatory Tweet from his alma mater Michigan, one of Harbaugh's numerous suitors. The coach didn't address any speculation about his future Monday.
"What will happen will happen, what won't happen won't happen," he said. "Like the players, like the coaches, we're dedicated to doing our job, finish what you start. That's the mindset."
He's not the only one who could be with San Francisco for the final time. Frank Gore, the club's all-time rushing leader, may not be back as he enters the finale needing 38 yards for his fourth straight season with at least 1,000.
"Hopefully, I'll be back," Gore said. "The organization, they love me and they respect me. I want to be back ... I was raised here. I don't know nothing else."
In addition, defensive tackle Justin Smith could be leaning toward retirement.
The 49ers may think twice about how to proceed with linebacker Aldon Smith, who served a nine-game suspension at the start of the year for violations of the NFL's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policies. Smith admitted this week that he visited Ray McDonald's home for a short time on the day the ex-49ers defensive lineman is accused of sexually assaulting a woman.
San Francisco has won five straight at home over Arizona and took nine of 10 meetings overall before suffering a 23-14 road loss Sept. 21. Rookie John Brown caught two TD passes from Stanton, while the 49ers were penalized nine times for 107 yards.
The Niners, who led by eight at halftime in that contest, have had a habit of blowing leads this season - including a 21-point edge at the break that they let slip away in last Saturday's 38-35 overtime loss to San Diego.
Colin Kaepernick was held to a season-low 114 passing yards, though he rushed for 151 ??? a career best in a regular-season game - thanks mostly to a spectacular 90-yard TD.
This four-game slide is the club's longest under Harbaugh and worst since a 0-5 start to 2010 ??? the season before he took over.