I’ve been on both sides of the expectations carousel, so I can appreciate the excitement that San Francisco general manager John Lynch and his organization are feeling. PLAYOFF PICTURE: Breaking down 49ers seeding scenariosIn 1999, I joined the Titans as president after the team had finished 8-8 in three straight seasons. The local fans weren’t thinking playoffs and certainly not Super Bowl. They were more focused on a Tennessee Vols football team that had just won the national championship.Two days after I was hired, team owner Bud Adams told the media it would be playoffs or pink slips for coach Jeff Fisher and GM Floyd Reese if the team didn’t make the playoffs. Our team started hot at 6-1, went 13-3 in regular season, beat the Bills in the “Music City Miracle” wild card game and wound up in the Super Bowl. We fell a foot short of sending the title game into overtime against the Rams (who also had an unexpected turnaround from 4-12 to Super Bowl champs).A big similarity between my ’99 Titans and this year’s 49ers is that both teams drafted a defensive end in the first round who catapulted the pass rush and the overall defense to among the league’s best. Jevon Kearse was the key addition to that Titans team, as his 14.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles led our defense that improved from 30 sacks in the prior season to 54 sacks, third-most in the league.San Francisco picked Nick Bosa No. 2 overall in last April’s draft, and he has nine sacks, 41 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception. He’s a big part of the 49ers’ defensive improvement from last year’s No. 13 defense to No. 2 this year with 47 sacks (No. 5 in the NFL with one game left) compared to 37 last season. Kearse was selected Defensive Rookie of the Year, and Bosa has a good shot at achieving that honor.Both the Titans in 1999 and the 49ers 20 years later were led by quarterbacks who were third-year starters — Steve McNair and Jimmy Garoppolo — and neither QB had started a playoff game. The leading receiver for both teams was a tight end — Frank Wycheck for the Titans and George Kittle for the 49ers.Another key common factor for both teams involves the most important stat next to final score — turnover ratio. For Tennessee that season, it was plus-18 (up from 0 in 1998), and for San Francisco, it’s plus-4, a massive improvement from a league-worst minus-25 last season. Such a leap in efficiency is a credit to both the offenses and defenses of both teams.In 1999, there were three divisions and five playoff teams in each conference, and as the top wild card, we played the Bills at home before hitting the road against Indianapolis and Jacksonville. If the 49ers lose in Seattle, they will begin the playoffs as a wild card and No. 5 seed, a tough spot that will put them on the road for as long as they last unless they and the Vikings at No. 6 reach the NFC Championship, in which case the 49ers would host. That puts extra pressure on San Francisco to find a way to win in Seattle against a beat-up Seahawks team that has lost its top two running backs and best offensive tackle to injuries.WEEK 17 PICKS:Against the spread | Straight upI’m sure Lynch is thrilled like I was with how the season has unfolded. There have been games that announced the 49ers as a team to be reckoned with, such as their 20-7 road win over the defending NFC champion Rams in Week 5 and the amazing 48-46 win in New Orleans three weeks ago when Garoppolo threw for 349 yards and four TDs — similar to our Titans season when a Week 3 one-point victory in Jacksonville and a 24-21 Week 8 home win over the Rams made us believe it could be a special season.I was cautiously optimistic entering the playoffs that our team could make a run, but I wasn’t realistically thinking Super Bowl. Lynch may be of a different mindset, but I’m sure he wonders as I did just how far his upstart team can go in postseason, especially if the 49ers enter as the fifth seed. Expectations in sports. When they’re high — as with the Rams, Bears and Chargers, all playoff teams last year — it can result in disappointment with underachieving seasons such as those three teams have experienced. If the Cowboys fail to win the NFC East and then win at least one playoff game, we can add them to this group.The flip side is a team that vastly exceeds expectations, which is the best situation for a franchise and its team execs. The prime example this season of course is the 49ers, who were 4-12 in 2018 and enter Week 17 at 12-3 with the NFC West title and No. 1 seed on the line in Sunday night’s matchup in Seattle. Other questions on Lynch’s mind are if Garoppolo will deliver in the clutch, as McNair did for us, and if the defensive unit can carry over regular season success. My Titans had to beat excellent QBs in Peyton Manning and Mark Brunell before Kurt Warner did us in. Lynch is hoping his dominant defense can hold off strong offensive teams in the NFC led by great quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and the Saints’ trio of Drew Brees (who threw five TD passes against the 49ers), record-breaking receiver Michael Thomas and prolific running back Alvin Kamara.As is always the case, the proof will be in the pudding in January — and possibly February.Jeff Diamond is a former president of the Titans and former vice president/general manager of the Vikings. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year in 1998. Diamond is currently a business and sports consultant who also does broadcast and online media work. He makes speaking appearances to corporate/civic groups and college classes on negotiation and sports business/sports management. He is the former chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.