The San Francisco 49ers will not be playing in the NFL’s postseason for the sixth time in seven years. The Niners — who have just one win in their last outings — were officially eliminated when the Arizona Cardinals hung on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.
After losing 41-33 to the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco is 5-9 and currently holds the 11th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 49ers have two games remaining against teams with winning records, meaning it will be challenging to move up the draft board due to their strength of schedule.
The Niners could still pick as high as No. 4, but they would need a lot to go their way over the final two weeks of the season. San Francisco plays the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16, before “hosting” the Seattle Seahawks for their finale.
There is a glut of teams who will be moving up-and-down the draft board over their next two games. San Francisco has no hope of landing a top three pick. The Jacksonville Jaguars currently hold the No. 1 selection, followed by the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals.
Here is how things currently stand following the top three:
Here is how things currently look from Nos. 4 through 13 and each team’s schedule over the final three weeks. *The NFL uses strength of schedule to determine the tiebreakers for draft positioning. The team with the easier strength of schedule will get the higher pick.
4) Carolina Panthers 4-10 (@ Washington, @ New Orleans Saints)
5) Atlanta Falcons 4-10 (@ Chiefs, @ Bucs)
6) Houston Texans 4-10 (vs. Bengals, vs. Titans) *pick goes to Miami Dolphins
7) Eagles 4-9-1 (@ Cowboys, vs. Washington)
8) Dallas Cowboys 5-9 (vs. Eagles, @ Giants)
9) L.A. Chargers 5-9 (vs. Broncos, @ Chiefs)
10) New York Giants 5-9 (@ Ravens, vs. Cowboys)
11) Detroit Lions 5-9 (vs. Buccaneers, vs. Vikings)
12) 49ers 5-9 (@ Cardinals, vs. Seahawks)
13) Denver Broncos 5-9 (@ Chargers, vs. Raiders)
Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL (the winless Jets beat the Rams on Sunday), but it looks like the Panthers and Falcons are in position to go 4-12 based on their remaining contests. The other four-win teams have favorable matchups to pull off at least one victory over their final two games.
Out of the five-win teams, Dallas, L.A., New York and Denver also have at least one winnable game on the schedule.
The best-case scenario for the 49ers is that they lose both and hope the Cardinals and Seahawks lose their other remaining game to lower San Francisco’s strength of schedule. The Broncos have the hardest SOS of the group, but that will decrease with their two divisional matchups over the final weeks.
The Niners should end up with at least a top-10 selection at this year’s draft. With plenty of question marks surrounding the roster, it will be interesting to see which position general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan choose to address.
At the very least, we know San Francisco will be playing a last place schedule next season. Meaning the 49ers will be playing the fourth place finishers from the NFC South and NFC East.