The 49ers blew a golden opportunity to get into the thick of the playoff race with their loss to the Cardinals, yet the NFL schedule presents a chance.
“Frustration” is a word many San Francisco 49ers fans are used to describing the last few seasons, and there was no exception to this rule in Week 9.
The 31-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was bad enough, and especially when you consider that the Cardinals were the beaten-up team. This was a novel experience, to say the least. But the Niners couldn’t take advantage, as the Cardinals outplayed them.
The loss relegates San Francisco to a 3-5 record, and it is now very much on the outside looking in for the Wild Card race. Injuries can’t excuse the performance the team put in. The 49ers have simply just not been good enough.
Not all is lost, however.
49ers still have a shot because of a relatively weaker NFL schedule
In previous seasons, a 3-5 record could almost be enough to thoroughly torpedo an underachieving team. But with a third Wild Card team added to the playoffs and a relatively weak schedule mean the Niners are not without hope.
It shouldn’t be misunderstood, though, San Francisco is on serious life support and won’t make the playoffs if the play continues at its current level.
Putting it bluntly, the 49ers need to find improvement, and quickly.
But the NFL schedule does give some help, and that’s where the one shining light is. The Niners should start as favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans. The Atlanta Falcons may be added to that list, too.
The Los Angeles Rams are a tough team, yes, but San Francisco always seem to play its best against them, as head coach Kyle Shanahan usually outcoaches Rams head coach Sean McVay.
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The Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals are in similar situations, so the 49ers can call those 50-50 games. There are matchups that can be taken advantage of there.
This season, a 9-8 record should be good enough to snatch a Wild Card. That means the Niners need to win six of their nine remaining games in the second half of the season after getting a lot of tougher games finished first.
If San Francisco misses the playoffs again, questions are going to start getting asked louder and louder of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
The easiest way to quieten those questions is to start winning, and soon.