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The 49ers have the easiest remaining schedule in the league with a 49% chance to make the playoffs

According to Football Outsiders DVOA and their future projections

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

If you're unfamiliar with DVOA, it measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent. Here's a short explanation:

DVOA measures not just yardage, but yardage towards a first down: Five yards on third-and-4 are worth more than five yards on first-and-10 and much more than five yards on third-and-12. Red zone plays are worth more than other plays. Performance is also adjusted for the quality of the opponent.

Not all three-yard gains are created equally. Neither are 28-yard touchdowns. Football Outsiders attempts to differentiate each play.

49ers'Using their DVOA rankings as a reference, through three weeks, the offense ranks 23rd, their defense is third, and their special teams are 16th. As a team, San Francisco ranks ninth and ahead of teams with better records such as the Dolphins, Packers, and Lions.

Football Outsiders wrote an article outlying the strength of schedule for each team for the remainder of the season using DVOA. Here are the teams with the five easiest schedules from Week 4 on, with their DVOA percentage listed next to them:

  1. San Francisco -9.7%
  2. Seattle -9%
  3. Philadelphia -8.6%
  4. Minnesota -7.2%
  5. Los Angeles (Chargers) -3.8%

The lower the number, the easier the schedule. For example, the Bengals have to most difficult remaining schedule at 12%.

For a team that'll be without its best player in Trent Williams for likely a month, getting teams like the Panthers and Falcons on the schedule in two of the next three weeks helps. Looking down the line, who knows if the Saints, Cardinals, Commanders, or Raiders will turn it around or if the Chargers will be healthy? The 49ers have a third-place schedule, and it shows.

So, knowing DVOA adjusts for situation and opponent, it may be a surprise that they believe San Francisco is the fourth-best team in the NFC behind the Eagles, Bucs, and Cowboys. There are seven percentage points between the Niners and the team after them, the Packers—only two percentage points separate San Francisco and third-place Dallas.

All of this information should help put out some of the fires after a bad loss on the road to the Broncos. I'm not sure if the 49ers can play as bad offensively. The pass protection was an unmitigated disaster in the second half. Turnovers, fumbles, and poor throws were all one piece of the reason the Niners didn't pull out a victory.

But that was one game, and we've seen this team put winning streaks together under Kyle Shanahan.


I hope that you read that in Jim Mora's voice. According to Football Outsiders playoff simulations — which penalize the 49ers from Weeks 4-7 for Trent Williams' injury — San Francisco has a 48.9% chance to make the playoffs and a 31.7% chance to win the NFC West. Their playoff odds decreased by 6.5% since last week, but that number could spike after a win over the Rams on Monday Night Football.

While it's easy to judge the 49ers based on the last product they put onto the field, the rest of the playoff field leaves a lot to be desired. The Saints are banged up, the Vikings can't stop a pop warner offense, and those are the two primary threats to 49ers playoff chances assuming the Cowboys keep winning and the Giants, Bears, and Lions all don't exceed their project win totals by more than three games.

Based on Wednesday's poll about the Niners playing in the postseason, 56% of you believe Kyle Shanahan and company's season will be done after 17 games. The pressure is on in Week 4, as you don't want to dig yourself a two-game hole one month into the season.