Even in seasons when the team is having a tough year, it’s always tough watching everyone else play football while your team is on a bye week. That said, if thinks break right, a team could find itself healthier and in a significantly better position than it did the week before. In the case of the 49ers this year, it was a bit of a mixed bag. And, no, it’s not too early to start looking at playoff positioning.
The Cardinals absolutely smoked the Browns 37-14, which basically puts the division out of reach, barring a total collapse. At 6-0 and with a head-to-head win over Kyle Shanahan’s squad in Week 5, it would take an absolute miracle for San Francisco to win the NFC West this year.
That’s assuming, of course, that the Rams also fall back to the pack, and that doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon. LA boat-raced the Giants 38-11 to improve to 5-1 on the year. They are firmly in the driver’s seat for a wild card (at worst) in the NFC.
The only thing that did go the 49ers way division-wise came on Sunday Night, where the Steelers barely edged the Seahawks 23-20 in overtime. With Russell Wilson’s future this season uncertain, the more losses Seattle can rack up in his absence, the better.
In terms of the rest of the non-division leaders NFC, there are five teams ahead of the 49ers in the conference standings. I mentioned the Rams earlier, they’re not going anywhere. The Saints are 3-2 and they had a bye. The Vikings are 3-3 but they at least beat the Panthers, who have lost three straight games. The Bears fell to 3-3 after a loss to the Packers, and they travel to Tampa Bay to play the world champs who are coming off extra rest following their win on Thursday night.
So, as it stands right now, the 49ers are 10th in the NFC, with games remaining against Minnesota, Chicago, and two more against the Rams. Clearly there are problems to sort out, but take heart. San Francisco is right in the thick of things in the conference, and there’s still plenty more football yet to be played.