What SF 49ers win vs. LA Rams says about dwindling playoff hopes

San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) with offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) and punter Mitch Wishnowsky (6) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) with offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (69) and punter Mitch Wishnowsky (6) Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers pulled off the upset win over the LA Rams in Week 12, and the victory carries some important playoff implications.

In some ways, the last quarter-plus of the SF 49ers‘ Week 12 bout against the LA Rams on Sunday was reminiscent of the Niners’ fourth-quarter collapse against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV last February.

After all, San Francisco was dominating the action for the better part of three quarters, only to see the Rams stage a dramatic five-minute comeback with 17 unanswered points during that stretch to take a 20-17 lead.

Fortunately, at least this time, the SF 49ers answered back and came away with the 23-20 victory on a last-second field goal by kicker Robbie Gould.

The win pushes head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad to 5-6 on the season. And while the Niners remain in last place in the vaunted NFC West, the prospects for securing a postseason berth improved significantly with the victory.

It helped the Rams lost, falling to 7-4, while the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals are now only a game ahead of San Francisco in the standings after losing on the road to the New England Patriots.

The SF 49ers, Cardinals and Rams will all be massive fans of the Philadelphia Eagles, as they host the now-NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

For now, though, here are the standings in the NFC playoff picture:

  1. New Orleans Saints (9-2)
  2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (7-3)
  4. NY Giants (4-7)
  5. LA Rams (7-4)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
  7. Arizona Cardinals (6-5)

The Minnesota Vikings (5-6) and Chicago Bears (5-6) both sit atop the SF 49ers on the playoff bubble, as the previous two have better conference records than San Francisco, which is now the No. 10 seed.

Yet the Niners leapfrogged the 4-7 Detroit Lions in Week 12, so that’s a bonus. And the 49ers can feel OK enough about the Packers demolishing the Bears on Sunday Night Football, too, as that’ll set up a scenario for another possible leapfrog over Chicago next week.

SF 49ers playoff chances, Week 13 rooting guide

According to Football Outsiders, the Niners upped their chances of making the postseason by 13.1 percent by beating the LA Rams, the biggest positive change in the NFC, which now has San Francisco at 17.8 percent odds overall of getting into the playoffs.

While it doesn’t seem likely the SF 49ers will catch the Rams in the standings, the Niners having swept the season series could come into play if both teams somehow wind up with identical records at Week 17’s conclusion.

After all, there’s only a two-game difference between those NFC West squads.

Yet San Francisco will have to win its Week 13 Monday Night Football game against the 8-3 Buffalo Bills, which won’t be an easy task, especially with the SF 49ers temporarily relocating to Arizona in light of Santa Clara County shutting down activities at Levi’s Stadium for the next three weeks.

As far as the remaining games of interest for the Niners and their fans, here’s your rooting guide:

  • Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears: Detroit
  • Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings: Jacksonville
  • NY Giants @ Seattle Seahawks: New York
  • LA Rams @ Arizona Cardinals: LA Rams

If the 49ers win their game, they’ll keep pace with the Rams while matching the record with the Cardinals, should LA pull off a road win. Arizona would hold the tiebreaker over the Niners for now, thanks to its Week 1 win back at Levi’s Stadium. But both teams face off against each other in Week 16.

Meanwhile, a Lions win over the Bears would help the Niners leapfrog over Chicago, provided San Francisco handles its own business versus Buffalo.

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Currently, the Bills are favored by 2.5 points over the SF 49ers, according to The Action Network. And looking at the possible Week 13 outcomes, most of them won’t matter in the help department if the Niners wind up losing this upcoming bout.

So, needless to say, Week 13 becomes a must-win game much like Week 12 was.