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The 49ers’ Path to the 10th Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear from the jump: I’m rooting for the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Why? Well, first off (site decorum). Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” will give you the rest of that thought on how I feel about the Hawks. If you’ve followed me on Twitter, you’re aware of every ounce of love I have for the chickens while living up here in Seattle. I’d like to not hear fireworks in the neighborhood (yes, they light them off after every score and win). Second, rooting for losses isn’t a thing I can do, especially against this very dumb opponent.

That said, if you’re the type that would like to see the team’s draft spot improve, I have good news! The Niners can move all the way up from their current slot at No. 15 to the 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. And the wild thing is, it won’t even require a bunch of crazy luck.

Here’s how spots 10-16 and 19 currently sit:

10. Denver Broncos

11. Dallas Cowboys

12. Los Angeles Chargers

13. Minnesota Vikings

14. New England Patriots

15. San Francisco 49ers

16. Las Vegas Raiders


19. Washington Football Team

Let’s look at how each team’s week 17 games provide a path for the 49ers to move up the draft, potentially even all the way to No. 10 overall. We all know that Vegas (the sportsbooks, not the terrible football team) doesn’t always get it right, but there are rivers and rollercoasters inside casinos there for a reason. So, we’ll include the lines from each game as well.

Las Vegas Raiders (+2) @ Denver Broncos (-2)

Right out of the gate, we have a big one. This one game could determine if the Niners are picking as high as No. 10 or as low as No. 16. If getting to the 10th pick is to become a reality, the Niners will need Denver to win. Hey, that’s easy to root for! Screw the Raiders, am I right? Thanks to the Bronco’s having a higher strength of schedule, the Niners would pick in front of them in this scenario, coupled with a loss to Seattle. Should both the Broncos and 49ers win this weekend, we would see the former Bay Area rivals both finish at 7-9. San Francisco would have the higher SOS, meaning they would pick behind the Raiders no matter how the rest of the chips fall. Despite that potential pitfall, I reiterate: Screw the Raiders. Go Denver!

Dallas Cowboys (-2.5) @ New York Giants

Now that we eased you in with the comfort of rooting against the Raiders, we’re spicing things up by giving you a reason to root for the (gulp) Cowboys. With a win, the Giants might not fall too far from their perch at No. 8 thanks to their putrid SOS, but with some help, they could tumble all the way to around No 12. Players and coaches don’t tank, especially with the chance to deny a hated rival a playoff berth. The Giants will be playing to win. On the flip side, the Cowboys have a shot at winning the NFC East by beating the Giants. They’d need to pair a win with a Washington Football Team loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. This is the 2020 NFC East we’re talking about, folks. Who the heck knows? For 49ers draft purposes, though, Go… nope. I can’t say it.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5)

At the time of publishing, there is no line on this game. Why? Because the Chiefs are expected to rest their starters, and the Chargers suck. I gather we’ll see a line of something like -2.5 for Chargers to generate action, but this truly is a toss-up. We’ll see how this one shakes out, but a meaningless win for the Chargers would sting for them and be super rad for the 49ers. Go Bolts!

Kyle’s update: The line for this game has the Chargers favored by 3.5 points, indicating that the Chiefs are going to rest everyone.

Minnesota Vikings (-7) @ Detroit Lions (+7)

The line on this could change a bit, pending an update on whether Matthew Stafford plays or not. Much like the Giants, the Lions have a top 10 pick in the bag headed into a week 17 divisional game. Meanwhile, the Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention with their loss to the New Orleans Saints, though. Detroit doesn’t have to play spoiler as a motivating factor. If Stafford doesn’t play, this should be an easy win for the Vi – what’s that? Kirk Cousins is still the quarterback for the Vikings? Ah, hell. Go Vikings!

New England Patriots (-3.5) Vs. New York Jets (+3.5)

As hilarious as it has been to see the Patriots suck, you’ll want to see them beat the lowly Jets to help the Niners draft position. Frank Gore has already been ruled out for the game, so you don’t have to worry about rooting against him. If there’s one coach in the NFL who I could absolutely be convinced would throw a game, it’s Bill Belichick. I still don’t think he would. Truly, I don’t believe that’s a thing teams do. But it’s Bill Belichick, and he could view a loss as a win here, so you just never know. The Jets have beat two potential playoff teams in a row. Their draft position at No. 2 is clinched, so giving the Patriots one last 2020 punch in the mouth would be a sweet deal for them. Be right back, gotta wash my mouth out with soap because: Go Pats!

Washington Football Team (-1.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (+1.5)

This one will likely largely hinge on quarterback and 49ers legend Alex Smith’s ability to play. What a gift Alex could give the Niners here while also completing one of the most improbable Comeback Player of the Year stories we’ve ever seen. As we’ve noted, you never know what will happen with one of these NFC East games. WFT will be giving it their all for a playoff berth against a somehow even worse Eagles team. A loss coupled with a Cowboys win would drop WFT out of the playoffs and ahead of the Niners as our old friend SOS bites us in the booty once again! Truly and genuinely: Go, Alex, and Team!

San Francisco 49ers (+5) Vs. Seattle Seahawks (-5)

As mentioned in the lede, I’m rooting for the Niners here. But for you draft position over everything psychopaths, you’ll prefer a loss as a win will see the Niners drop to No. 16 if the Raiders also lose to the Broncos. The Seahawks can end up anywhere in the three top seeds of the NFC playoff bracket, so they’ll be playing to win – at least to start. They need both the Green Bay Packers (@ CHI) and Saints (@ CAR) to lose to get the No. 1 seed, though. Since only the top seed gets a bye this year, I can squint and see Seattle resting Russell Wilson and the rest of the starters if one or both the Packers and Saints have big halftime or end-of- third-quarter leads. The 49ers will be without Trent Williams and Brandon Aiyuk, so it’s hard to see them jumping to an early lead, but I suppose they could keep it close enough to get the dub if Seattle does pull their starters.

There you have it. The Niners could finish anywhere between Nos. 10 and 16 in the draft, depending on how things shake out on Sunday. No matter how these scenarios play out, there really is one certainty: Win or lose, I still booze. Join me in cracking a cold one to bid the dumbest year of all time farewell.