49ers Playoff Scenarios, Chances, Seed Predictions: San Francisco, Analytics Darlings, Will Face Dallas After Win vs. Rams

49ers Playoff Scenarios, Chances, Seed Predictions: San Francisco, Analytics Darlings, Will Face Dallas After Win vs. Rams article feature image
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Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan

Sunday Night Update

The 49ers are in the playoffs with a win over the Rams on Sunday.

San Francisco will be the 6-seed and will travel to Dallas for their wild-card game next weekend.

While Jimmy Garoppolo does look woefully average to the eye test, the 49ers boast the fifth-most efficient offense in football with a solid No. 8 overall defense to boot, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA.

A deep run in the playoffs, though, is contingent on Garoppolo’s thumb, which he tore a ligament in last month. Though that’s supposed to be a four to six week injury, Garoppolo only missed a week and returned on Sunday to relatively mixed results.

The Action Network’s models give the 49ers a roughly 23% chance to make the divisional round and 0.7% chance to win the Super Bowl.


Following a disappointing 2020 season after a Super Bowl run the season before, the San Francisco 49ers are back in the NFL playoff picture.

San Francisco missed the playoffs last season due to inconsistency and injuries at the quarterback position. With Jimmy Garoppolo playing in only six games due to injuries, leaving Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard to take snaps, Kyle Shanahan’s team was just 6-10.

Now the 49ers control their own destiny — and might have to lean on their rookie quarterback to do so.

The unknown at quarterback led to an offseason trade to move up in the 2021 NFL Draft and select Trey Lance. With Garoppolo injured and his status in question for Week 18, the team could turn to Lance again.

Lance started in the Week 17 win over the Texans. He also started the Week 5 loss to the Cardinals.

Whoever starts will need to play well.

For the 49ers to make the playoffs, they need one of two things to happen. The 49ers control their own destiny and are in the postseason with a win over the Los Angeles Rams. If the 49ers lose, they can still make the playoffs if the New Orleans Saints lose or tie against the Atlanta Falcons. 

San Francisco needs an upset either way.

The 49ers are 4.5-point underdogs to the Rams, who are playing to win the NFC West (find real-time NFL odds here). Meanwhile, the Saints are 4.5-point favorites against the Falcons. New Orleans is motivated with a playoff spot on the line as well.

According to our expert Travis Reed’s projections — which help power our NFL PRO Projections — the 49ers have a 59% chance of making the postseason. He projects them to most likely get the No. 6 seed if they do clinch a spot.

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