The SF 49ers win on Saturday and other Week 16 results impacted the Niners’ place in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The SF 49ers‘ win over the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday pushed the Niners’ record to 6-9 on the season with one week left. The Seattle Seahawks will travel to Arizona for the final game for both Seattle and the SF 49ers this coming Sunday.
After all the other games took place for the remainder of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night, Week 16 came to a close, locking the SF 49ers into the No. 15 overall draft pick heading into the season’s final week.
While other teams continue to fight for their playoff lives, the Niners are playing for two things: pride/spoilers and draft position.
According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks still have a 6.9 percent chance of taking home the one-and-only bye week in the NFC for 2020, with the Green Bay Packers sitting at 74.4 percent and the New Orleans Saints at 18.7 percent heading into Week 17. Seattle has already clinched the NFC West and would need a win over the SF 49ers, combined with Green Bay and New Orleans losing, to get above the third seed.
So the Niners can play for the pride of spoiling their long-time rivals’ hopes of getting that coveted first-round bye with a victory on Sunday in Arizona.
Plenty of draft-order shakeups ahead of SF 49ers, rest of NFL
As far as draft position goes, the SF 49ers currently sit ahead of fellow 6-9 teams, the Dallas Cowboys (No. 11), LA Chargers (No. 12), Minnesota Vikings (No. 13), and the New England Patriots (No. 14), but as of now, according to Tankathon, only the top two draft slots are locked in, with the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1 and the NY Jets at No. 2 overall.
In between the Jets and the Niners are two 4-11 squads (Houston Texans, whose pick goes to the Miami Dolphins, and Atlanta Falcons), two 4-10-1 teams (Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles), and four 5-10 teams (Detroit Lions, NY Giants, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos).
Since the SF 49ers can’t get to fewer than six wins, this means the highest the Niners can rise is late in the top-10, since Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia can’t reach that six-win threshold.
The NFC East factors in a great deal, too, as Dallas and the Giants aren’t even eliminated from the playoffs heading into Week 17, and if Washington loses to Philadelphia, it’d move from their current projected slot (No. 19, but that’s based on how far the Football Team would advance in the playoffs) into the mess of other potential 6-10 teams.
The reason the SF 49ers find themselves with the lowest pick out of all the current 6-9 teams is because of the first tiebreaker: strength of schedule, which sits at .544, just ahead of New England’s .533.
Based on these numbers, the lowest the Niners could fall is just one slot lower at No. 16, currently occupied by the Las Vegas Raiders, who are 7-8 coming into the NFL’s final week.
But if the Raiders fall to Denver this weekend and the Niners beat Seattle, San Francisco would move down to No. 16 on strength of schedule, as Las Vegas is at .542.
If Dallas beats the Giants, the Chargers are victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota takes out Detroit, and New England handles the Jets and the SF 49ers lose, then those teams would all move down in the draft order at 7-9 and the Niners would have a host of other scenarios to take into account at 6-10.
Those victories mean the Giants and Lions likely remain where they are above the SF 49ers at 5-11, meaning what happens with the Las Vegas/Denver matchup and the Carolina/New Orleans contest could ultimately decide the Niners’ draft slot.
If both teams lose and fall to 5-11, they stay in the top-10 in front of San Francisco, but if they both won, only Carolina (SOS of .529) would stay ahead of the 49ers, while Denver (SOS of .567) would move behind the Niners.
Of course, the teams in the top-six outside of Jacksonville and the Jets can also shake things up a bit, too. Wins by Houston, Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia put them at 5-11 or 5-10-1 and while that isn’t enough wins to go lower than the 49ers, it will cause some shakeup in the top-10.
In the end, the SF 49ers’ relatively high strength of schedule might be the difference, as they not only have the highest among current 6-9 teams but also among all the 5-10 teams save for Denver.
This likely means that a loss will land the SF 49ers somewhere in the 10-15 range, while a win could see them either stay at no. 15 or jump up to no. 16 in the event of a loss by the Raiders.
The NFL Draft is a complicated mess, but we’ll soon know the order for the first 18 selections, including where the SF 49ers will be choosing. Then the intrigue of who will be the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers can begin in earnest.