SF 49ers don’t need to tank over remaining 5 games in 2020

The San Francisco 49ers face off against the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images)
The San Francisco 49ers face off against the Buffalo Bills (Photo by Michael Adamucci/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers’ upset vs. the Los Angeles Rams changed everything, meaning Week 13 against the Bills is a must-win game.

When the SF 49ers upset the Los Angeles Rams and put the team on a 5-6 record heading into the home stretch of the season, it completely changed the dynamic of the season.

A loss would have condemned the Niners to 4-7 and essentially eliminated San Francisco from a crowded NFC scrambling for the playoffs, but a 5-6 record where players are coming back at the right time completely changes the game.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan is reportedly hoping quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle can return for the last two weeks of the regular season. If they return for, let’s say the final two games which are divisional matchups against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, the season is still salvageable.

For this to happen, the SF 49ers need something to play for.

The next three games mean everything to their chances with a “home” matchup against the upstart 8-3 Buffalo Bills and then a couple of manageable games against the sub-.500 Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys from the laughably weak NFC East.

Not that it stopped the Philadelphia Eagles beating the 49ers earlier this season, but it’s still winnable.

If the SF 49ers can win two of the next three and get to 7-7, the final two games could still give them a chance at the playoffs. The extended playoff format which extends it to seven playoff teams per conference gives a team more wriggle room.

In short, a 9-7 record may just be enough for San Francisco to sneak into the playoffs and potentially cause some serious damage with a more healthy roster.

That the SF 49ers are in a situation where they even have a chance of playoffs at all at this late juncture is down to the expert scheming of Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to make use of their limited options despite the staggering array of injuries that have been afflicted to their stars.

Given this, it’s within the realm of plausibility the Niners can still make the playoffs by playing well in the next three games and holding the fort for a possible Garoppolo and Kittle return.

If San Francisco can knock off the Bills, then what was plausible could be considered very possible indeed.

You could be forgiven for wanting the 49ers to just tank in the remaining games to load up on a promising draft prospect, but no fan should want that when playoffs are well within sight.

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Should the 49ers build on their victory against the Rams and players continue to return, then San Francisco cannot be ruled out.

It’s all about one game at a time, and the 49ers have a chance to make this very possible with a victory against Buffalo on Monday night.