3 games SF 49ers couldn’t afford to lose in 2020

Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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Nick Mullens, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cowboys helped eliminate the SF 49ers from the playoffs in Week 15, but these three other games stand out as critical losses.

Both the Dallas Cowboys and SF 49ers have had their share eliminating each other from the playoffs and postseason contention over their storied rivalry.

But in Week 15, Dallas got the last laugh by delivering the dagger blow to the Niners’ already-slim playoff hopes by the way of a 41-33 victory over San Francisco at AT&T Stadium. When combined with the Arizona Cardinals pulling off a win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the 5-9 SF 49ers now have no means whatsoever to play deep into January this season.

In many cases, San Francisco should have won in Week 15. But four lost turnovers, which resulted in 24 Cowboys points, ultimately proved to be the difference between keeping those playoff hopes alive for at least one more week and getting ready for what’s going to be a challenging offseason.

At the same time, though, the most recent loss doesn’t epitomize everything that went wrong for the SF 49ers this season. The Niners were, for all intents and purposes, out of the playoff hunt weeks ago, and a series of setbacks and other losses leading up to Week 15 was just as detrimental to the team’s chances of postseason football.

Remember, a loss in Week 1 counts just as much as a loss in Week 15.

True, some losses aren’t quite equal to others. Just like the loss to Dallas, however, there were a number of games San Francisco should have won but ultimately didn’t.

Here are three that are going to be remembered as the most critical defeats when eulogizing the SF 49ers’ 2020 campaign.