The San Francisco 49ers placed Patrick Willis on injured reserve this week, ending his season and pushing the 49ers forward with Chris Borland and Michael Wilhoite manning the inside linebacker positions. NaVorro Bowman could come back at some point, but his status remains undetermined until he actually returns to practice.
The 49ers get Aldon Smith back this week, but the loss of Patrick Willis has much of America down on the team. ESPN's Sportsnation ran a poll asking if the 49ers would make the playoffs. 72 percent of America (or at least of 124,474 Americans) believe the 49ers will not make the playoffs.
At 5-4, the 49ers do have some work to do. This chart is an intriguing one, as it shows 5-4 teams making the playoffs 52 percent of the time.
The loss of Patrick Willis is a big one, but is it enough to keep the 49ers out of the playoffs? The return of Aldon Smith will be a significant factor in whether the 49ers make the playoffs. Additionally, while we do not know when NaVorro Bowman will return, if he does return that is another significant factor. And of course there is Glenn Dorsey, and a hopefully eventually healthy Tramaine Brock.
As you look at the 49ers right now, do they make the playoffs? You can assume whatever you want about how the season will move on in terms of players returning. But right now, as you consider the rest of the season, will the 49ers be playing in the playoffs in some form or fashion/