After a disappointing 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers are 2-2 a quarter of the way through their 2020 NFL regular season schedule. The Niners beat two of the worst teams in the league when they smacked around both the New York Jets and New York Giants.
Injuries are obviously the most significant factor at this point. Looking at the names of players who have missed games this season, you can say that the team is lucky to be 2-2. Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, Brandon Aiyuk, Tevin Coleman, Solomon Thomas and Jordan Reed have all missed at least one game through the 49ers’ first four contests. That is absurd.
The unfortunate part is that if not for their own mistakes, the Niners could be 4-0 going into Week 5, despite all of the injuries. San Francisco has a favorable matchup when it takes on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday — but as we all know — there is no such thing as a guaranteed win in the NFL.
Week 6 is when the gauntlet begins for the 49ers, starting with a matchup against their NFC West rivals, the Los Angeles Rams. The next six San Francisco games after that are @ New England Patriots, @ Seattle Seahawks, vs. Green Bay Packers, @ New Orleans Saints, BYE, @ Los Angeles Rams, vs. Buffalo Bills. Those teams have combined for a record of 18-5 so far, giving the Niners the toughest remaining strength of schedule in the NFL.
The good news is that even without their best two pass-rushers and three top corners, the Niners’ defense is putting up good numbers. The unit ranks fifth in defensive DVOA and third in the NFL in yards allowed per game. But, we have to remember that the defense is putting up these stats against a .219 strength of schedule, easiest in the NFC.
Other than the injuries, the 49ers need to improve their offensive line play if they want to contend for one of the seven available NFC playoff spots. Football Outsiders has the 49ers’ offensive line ranked 31st in adjusted line yard per running play, while pass-protection has the second-highest adjusted sack rate at 11.4%.
The Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers should get into the playoffs, and whichever NFC East team wins the division will also be in the postseason, leaving San Francisco, L.A. (3-1), Arizona Cardinals (2-2) and Chicago Bears (3-1) fighting for the final two spots. The Carolina Panthers (2-2) and Minnesota Vikings (1-3) could challenge for a postseason berth as well. The additional playoff spot means a 9-7 team has a pretty good chance of getting in.
At the quarter mark, Football Outsiders gives the Niners a 40.6% chance at making the playoffs. F.O. has the Rams at 72.8%, Cardinals at 32% and Bears at 53.3%. The only way San Francisco has a shot to get into the postseason is if it gets back most of the injured guys back soon (sans Bosa and Thomas, who are done for the year), which could be asking a lot considering how this season has started.
If the injures continue to pile-up, the Niners could be looking at a five-or-six win season and potential top-10 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
We are 25% of the way through the 49ers schedule, how many wins do you think they will finish with?
This poll is closed
5 or less
10 or more
Let us know how you voted in the comments below.