There is an interesting mix of optimism and low expectations for the San Francisco 49ers in 2017. The process appears to be making progress, but most people are not likely not anticipating a playoff appearance this season. Even if the team wins three or four games, there will hopefully be positives to take away from things.
That being said, if we want to get crazy optimistic and ponder playoff possibilities, the season could hinge on one game. Obviously every game is important, and any remote chance at a nine or ten-win season makes plenty of games. But, there are ways to look at certain games as potentially being more important than others.
ESPN put together their Football Power Index last week, ranking out teams and putting together playoff odds for each team. Using these odds, they were recently able to come up with the most important game for each team in 2017.
For the San Francisco 49ers, they listed Week 2 at the Seattle Seahawks. They look at playoff leverage in terms of how a win each week will increase a team’s playoff chance. Plenty will change once the season starts, but for now, without knowing the 49ers record in November or December, this game makes some sense. Here’s what they had to say about the game
The odds will still be long, but an early-season win in Seattle would provide a platform upon which the 49ers can mount a playoff challenge. Putting San Francisco down for a win at the Seahawks raises the Niners' playoff chances to 8.6 percent.
The 49ers haven’t won at Seattle since 2011, and aside from the 2014 NFC title game, none of them have been all that close. The 49ers are unlikely to make the playoffs, but if they stunned us in these first two games at home against Carolina and then on the road in Seattle, suddenly things change in a big way. Again, I do not expect that, and just a split would be incredibly positive. But, if you’re looking for reasons to get unnecessarily excited, there you have it.