The San Francisco 49ers finished the season with the same 6-10 record as the Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins. The 49ers and Raiders are tied with each other at spots No. 9 and 10, ahead of the Dolphins in draft order. Strength of schedule is the tiebreaker, and if two or more teams are tied in SOS, the next tiebreaker is a coin toss.
The NFL handles draft order coin flips during the NFL Combine, which means we get to wait a month and a half to find out the 49ers specific spot in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The 49ers and Raiders will have a coin flip, as will Washington and the Green Bay Packers, and then the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.
On Wednesday, John Lynch was asked about the coin toss, and he had a little fun with it (via Nick Wagoner, ESPN).
"I'm going to practice all offseason," Lynch said, laughing. "I'm talking to our analytics guys. I'm hearing it's 50-50."
A coin toss seems like a 50/50 proposition, but the folks at Lynch’s alma mater would indicate otherwise! Three students in the mathematics department put together a research paper that suggests there could be the slightest variation in favor of what side the coin starts on. Thus, if the coin flipper has heads facing up before flipping, there is the slightest of advantages to calling heads. You can read more about that in the research paper embedded below. If you cannot see the paper, click here.
We don’t know the exact process of the coin toss. It is possible they do not show which side is facing up when the decision is made. My guess is they randomly assign heads and tails to the two teams, but if John Lynch gets a chance to pick and does not see which side is facing up to start, there is a clear choice: Tails never fails