- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- If the San Francisco 49ers are to make a run and appear in their fourth straight postseason for the first time since going to the playoffs seven straight years from 1992 through 1998, they are going to have to do it as a wild card.
The NFC West title is out of reach for the Niners, who are 7-6 with three games to play.
As ESPN Stats & Info explained: Assuming no ties, the 49ers do not have a chance to win the NFC West even if they win out, because they would lose a three-way tiebreaker at 10-6 with the Arizona Cardinals (10-3) and Seattle Seahawks (9-4) based on the other teams having a better combined head-to-head record.
And as far as claiming one of two wild-card berths, "there are too many scenarios at this point to figure out what it would take for (the 49ers) to make it."
To claim a piece of the divisional title, the best the Niners can do is finish 10-6, while the Cardinals would have to go 0-3 to finish 10-6. The Seahawks, meanwhile, could not go 0-3 because they would have to beat Arizona, so by going 1-2, they would also be 10-6.
The tie-breaker for three teams, as referenced above, is head-to-head record against each other and the Seahawks would be 3-1 against the 49ers and Cardinals while the Niners would be 2-2 against the Seahawks and Cardinals and the Cardinals would be 1-3 against the Seahawks and 49ers.
That would mean the NFC West crown and a likely top 3 seed would go to the Seahawks with the Niners coming in second and the Cardinals in third. And even then, depending upon what happens with the likes of the Dallas Cowboys (9-4), Philadelphia Eagles (9-4), Green Bay Packers (10-3) and Detroit Lions (9-4) over the next three weeks could make what the Niners, who have lost two straight games and are currentky the No. 8 seed in the NFC, irrelevant for one of the conference's six playoff spots.
Per numberfire.com, the Niners have a 5.72 percent chance of making the playoffs, compared to Arizona's 97.44 percent and Seattle's 85.30 percent.
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