Before the season, many of us expected anything fewer than double-digit wins for the 49ers would mean this year was a disappointment.
San Francisco’s win total heading into 2021 was set at 10.5. It wasn’t just the fanbase that expected big things. At 2-3, disappointment would be an understatement. Thankfully, the Niners have plenty of time to turn things around.
Here’s a look at our staff predictions and how we think the remainder of the season will go.
Rob’s prediction: 7-10
There are certainly plenty of winnable games left on the schedule. Despite their struggles, I think the 49ers should beat the Jaguars, Bengals, Titans, Falcons, and Texans without too much trouble. While on paper, you could argue that the 49ers have a chance to beat everyone left on their schedule, the problem is that this team has burned through the benefit of the doubt. Games against the Colts, Bears, and Vikings look more challenging than ever, not to mention the four NFC West games still left to play. Even if they happen to get lucky and win one of those games, they could still shoot themselves in the foot in one of the so-called winnable games, so 5-7 feels about right to me. To me, the most important thing is that Trey Lance gets to start for those final 12 games instead of the quarterback that won’t be on the team next year.
Marc’s prediction: 8-9
Rob put it perfectly. There’s a clear path to the 49ers finishing 10-7 and making a late-season push for a postseason appearance. The Niners’ schedule is relatively easy through the rest of the season, with the Bears or Colts set to be their strongest out-of-division opponents, but it’s hard to have confidence in Kyle Shanahan to get the most out of the offense. Besides the head-scratching decision to stick by Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback, the situation surrounding Brandon Aiyuk seems to be devolving. This roster has enough talent to keep Shanahan from truly ending up on the hot seat, but that could change if they don’t pull out wins against the Jaguars, Falcons, Texans, or Bengals.
Xavier’s prediction: 10-7
My old high school used to chant, “I believe…I believe that… I believe that we will win!” We were awful and never won, but that’s beside the point. The faith is here with this team. Kyle Shanahan’s offense has been underwhelming. That should change as the Niners will face several bad defenses in the 12 remaining games. However, we have to start with Week 7. The Niners have to beat the Colts to get the ball rolling. The defense has done everything they can to win games. I expect them to continue to play at a high level. San Francisco’s most formidable challenge will be the division games. After that, it’s up to the offense to save the Niners’ playoff hopes.
Tyler’s Prediction: 9-8
The 49ers still have one good thing going for them: The last place division finisher’s schedule. There are plenty of winnable games left on their slate, and let’s not pretend these previous three games were an easy part of the schedule.
If we’ve learned anything so far, it’s that no matter who will be taking snaps in 2021 at QB will be putting a lower ceiling on this team’s potential than any other aspect, be it injuries or coaching decisions. Either it’ll be Garoppolo, who the league has figured out how to stifle by crowding the box, or Lance, who will go through growing pains on the biggest stage of his career. Ultimately, I’d imagine the results to be about the same, but one of those guys will be on the team next year, and one won’t. Based on that alone, the answer should be pretty obvious.
However, the rest of the roster just has too much talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball under DeMeco Ryans, to go into a full-on free fall down the stretch. So expect the Niners to win the ones they’re supposed to and, maybe, steal one of the borderline games. If they do that, the way that the NFC is shaping up, they could easily sneak into the Nickelodeon Wild Card game.
Kyle’s prediction: 10-7
Seven teams make the playoffs in the NFC. The 49ers are currently ninth in point differential. To me, that’s one of the biggest indicators for how teams perform. Even at 2-3, the 49ers have a great chance at sneaking into the playoffs thanks to a conference that’s a jumbled mess.
Based on the first five weeks, there’s a fight for two spots between 9 teams that have won two and three games. Of course, that’s assuming the Cardinals, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Packers, and Rams all make the playoffs. Here are the QBs standing in the 49ers’ way: Justin Fields, Sam Darnold, Jameis Winston, Taylor Henickie, Kirk Cousins, Jalen Hurts, Geno Smith, and Matt Ryan.
Even at 2-3, it’d be a disappointment if the 49ers didn’t make the playoffs. They have to work out some kinks on offense, though. Beat Carson Wentz and Field in the next two games, and you’re over .500 again with two divisional foes in front of you. Here’s how I expect the rest of the season to go: W-W-W-L-W-L-L-W-W-L-W-W-L.
The rollercoaster season is just getting underway. So enjoy the ride and the bumps.
Yinon’s prediction: 11-6
Fundamentally, I believe that the season is long, Kyle is baseline competent, and this defense is good. The three losses were close, and you can chalk up almost all of it to a team getting in its own way. Of all the problems to have, it’s not a terrible problem because there are things you can actually control and fix over the course of a season. We have playmakers on offense, we have two viable options at quarterback (if I were more confident in Kyle starting Lance, I would bump the wins up), and our defense can keep up with the Rodgers, Murrays, and Wilsons of the league. The pieces are there, and I’m betting on the team putting it together. They have a ways to go, and it’ll be fascinating to see how it all shakes out.
Jordan’s Prediction: 10-7
The bad news is the 49ers entered the bye week under .500 in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The good news is that each of those games was very winnable, and if they can cut back on the self-inflicted mistakes, the talent level alone should get them to 10 wins. The schedule lightens up significantly down the backstretch of the season, and I have to believe the offense will figure out some kind of rhythm and start pulling its weight to help out what has been a top ten defense through five games.