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49ers have been the 9th-luckiest team in the NFL this season, per advanced stat

According to an advanced metric, the 49ers have been one of the 10 luckiest teams in the league this season.

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Over the past few years, the NFL has begun expanding its advanced data apparatus and has stated sharing significant troughs of statistics with the public. For example, earlier this year, Tom Bliss shared a new statistic that attempts to quantify each team’s luck called Net Win Probability Added (NWPA). Through Week 12, the 49ers rank as the ninth-luckiest team in the NFL, with an estimated 0.4 wins added to their record based on things out of the team’s control.

NWPA compares the number of dropped interceptions, dropped receptions, field goal/extra point percentage, and fumble recoveries by a team’s opponents with league averages. While some may argue that a team can influence how an opponent performs in those metrics, those statistics have historically normalized to league averages.

Interestingly, Bliss released the first NWPA numbers after Week 9, and the Niners were +0.52, meaning they have actually been unlucky in their wins against the Saints, Cardinals, and Chargers.

The Niners have been luckiest with opposing kickers, according to NWPA. Opposing kickers have underperformed league averages on field goal and extra-point attempts against the 49ers so much that NWPA estimates they have favored the Niners by nearly half a win.

The 49ers’ opponents have performed much closer to league averages in all of the other categories (dropped interceptions, dropped passes, and fumble recoveries). Perhaps surprisingly, the Niners have actually been unlucky (-0.1) when it comes to dropped interceptions, suggesting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s career-best 1.3% interception rate has not been tied to good luck.

San Francisco has also been marginally unlucky (-0.06) on fumble recoveries but benefitted from opposing receivers dropping passes at an abnormally high rate (+0.1).

Looking around the NFC West, NWPA estimates that the Cardinals have benefitted from good luck (+0.25), the Seahawks have been perfectly neutral (0.00), and the Rams have suffered some bad luck (-0.21).