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How the 49ers can clinch a playoff spot in Week 17

The Niners can secure the 6-seed this Sunday, too.

San Francisco 49ers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

I was nervous about Monday night as Miami was only a 3-point favorite against a team playing its fourth-string quarterback and down its starting offensive tackles and left guard. However, Ian Book’s early pick-six gave the 49ers the sigh of relief they needed.

After the Saints' loss to the Dolphins, the 49ers can clinch a playoff spot as early as Sunday. If San Francisco beats the Houston Texans as 13-point home favorites — there was a 2-point adjustment, assuming Trey Lance is under center.

So, with a win over the Texans, the Niners would also need the Panthers to beat the Saints. If the duo of Sam Darnold and Cam Newton can do so, the 49ers are in. Unfortunately, Carolina is 5-10 without any presence of a running game. The hope is that if New Orleans is down their top two offensive tackles, Haason Reddick and Brian Burns can be game-wreckers.

Without going too far down the rabbit hole, thanks to the Saints Week 16 loss, the 49ers control their own destiny once again. With a win over the Texans and the Rams, the Niners are in the playoffs. Simple.

  1. Green Bay 12-3
  2. Dallas 11-4
  3. Los Angeles 11-4
  4. Tampa Bay 11-4
  5. Arizona 10-5
  6. San Francisco 8-7
  7. Philadelphia 8-7
  8. Minnesota 7-8
  9. Atlanta 7-8
  10. New Orleans 7-8

The Rams are NFC West Champions if the Cardinals lose to the Cowboys this upcoming week. Los Angeles holds the conference tiebreaker over the Bucs, but not over Dallas, which is why they’re the 3-seed.

Let’s say the Rams have the NFC West locked up heading into Week 18. If they’re locked into the 3-seed, there isn’t anything to play for. Still, why would they take it easy on the divisional opponent that’s owned them for the previous few years? Wouldn’t it be the ultimate payback for Sean McVay if he was the reason Kyle Shanahan’s team didn’t make the playoffs?

An ideal situation for the 49ers is clinching the 6-seed this upcoming weekend. How’s that happen? So we’ve mapped out above that it takes a Saints loss, and a Niners win. Additionally, if the Eagles lose to Washington’s Football team, San Francisco cements themselves as the 6-seed.

That would give the team a week of much-needed rest. Also, you don’t have to worry about playing the Rams in a must-win game without Azeez Al-Shaair, Dre Greenlaw, and potentially Emmanuel Moseley.

Perhaps the biggest benefit is you no longer have to rely on your rookie quarterback — assuming Jimmy Garoppolo is out for longer than one week — to win on the road against one of the best teams in football for you to have a shot at the playoffs.

Clinching in Week 17 is ideal for the 49ers.