clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2019 NFL season predictions: ESPN simulates every 49ers game

It gets much better after Week 1

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Predictions for the San Francisco 49ers are anywhere between 10-6, at best, or missing the playoffs after finishing below .500. ESPN recently simulated the 2019 NFL season a ton to paint a picture of how this year will go. Here is their explanation of their process:

Before each season, we simulate the entire NFL slate 20,000 times using the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI), our prediction and projection system. In the preseason, it is based on a few factors, including each team’s preseason win total matched with its schedule, past performance in all three phases of the game, returning starters and who the starting and backup quarterbacks are expected to be. Altogether that gets us a strength rating for every team, which we in turn use to determine game predictions and the likelihood of one team beating another. Today, we took just one of those 20,000 season-long simulations — No. 1,721 — and played out the entire slate with final scores for all 267 games.

Here is how ESPN predicted each game:

Week 1: TB 37, SF 14
Week 2: SF 42, Cin 28
Week 3: SF 29, Pit 24
Week 4: Bye
Week 5: SF 28, Cle 16
Week 6: Rams 23, SF 16
Week 7: SF 38, WSH 21
Week 8: SF 33, Car 28
Week 9: SF 23, Ari 16

Halfway point

The overreaction on Niners Nation, the week following a beatdown from the Bucs, will be glorious. If the 49ers go 6-2 during the first half of the season, we are going to have a lot of fun this year. Here’s what ESPN had to say about the Niners after Week 9:

A 23-16 win over Arizona gives the 49ers a three-game winning streak and a 6-2 record, as Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan start to put together the kind of run that San Francisco brass imagined when they landed the former Patriot two years ago. With the Rams stumbling at 3-5, the 49ers are in prime position to take advantage.

This projection assumes that the 49ers defense will be suspect, at best. Through the first half of the season, the defense is giving up an average of 24 points per game. The offense averaged just over 25 points per game. I would love this style of football. It makes for an entertaining Sunday. I’ll take 31-27 over 14-10 every day of the week.

Here’s how the final eight games went:

Week 10: SF 29, Sea 24
Week 11: SF 25, Ari 16
Week 12: GB 35, SF 10
Week 13: Bal 33, SF 17
Week 14: NO 30, SF 10
Week 15: SF 30, Atl 27
Week 16: SF 26, Rams 24
Week 17: SF 31, Sea 10

Division champs

In this simulation, The 49ers are the three seed headed into the playoffs finishing 11-5. The Niners clinched the NFC West after a victory over the Los Angeles Rams Week 16. The 49ers also swept the Seattle Seahawks. Wow. A 5-1 division finish and the Niners will find themselves in the playoffs.

There is a three-game losing streak in a brutal stretch against teams ESPN has finishing 13-3, 9-7, and 11-5, respectively. It is imperative the 49ers get off to a fast start, so they aren’t forced to go into the second half of their schedule with must-win games in the division or on the road.


(3) 49ers 37 (6) Falcons 0: Holy Garoppolo. It’s one thing to shock the world during the regular season. But to come out like this in the postseason and take down a talented and experienced team like the Falcons? The world better wake up: The 49ers are Super Bowl contenders.

Kyle Shanahan would be the happiest person on the planet if this happened. The defense that gave up four touchdowns to an underwhelming Bengals offense early in the year shuts out the high-flying Falcons. You thought the overreaction was unbearable after Week 1? Check back with us after Wildcard weekend.

Divisional round

(2) Saints 27, (3) 49ers 17: And here’s where Jimmy G’s road comes to an end. Brees’ devastatingly accurate passing attack was too much for this defense. Still, it was a very successful season for San Francisco.

The Cinderella story is over with a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champs. If you knew before the season started that you would sweep Seattle, have a shutout in the playoffs, and lose to the Super Bowl champions, you’d sign on the dotted line.