49ers schedule: Predicting wins, losses over final half of 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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49ers Nick Bosa
Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

49ers Weeks 13-15

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5 at Seahawks, 8:20 p.m. ET

Preseason prediction: L

Midseason prediction: L

First off, this game feels like it has “flexed out of Sunday night” written all over it, especially if the Niners continue to struggle and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson isn’t quite himself upon his return, possibly as soon as Week 10, from a broken finger.

That said, given the direction these two teams are heading, this feels like a potentially ugly game between two rivals who are trying to avoid the cellar of the NFC West.

The silver lining here is that San Francisco did a fantastic job against this Seahawks team with a fully healthy Wilson back in Week 4, at least for the first 25 or so minutes of the game. The 49ers eventually lost that contest at Levi’s Stadium, but the matchup suggests the Niners are capable of playing well.

The problem is last week’s loss to the Cardinals shows that past performance isn’t indicative of much for San Francisco.

That said, expect a loss and a season sweep at the hands of the Seahawks in 2021.

Record: 5-7

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12 at Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

Preseason prediction: W

Midseason prediction: L

Of all the changes, this is the one that would have been least likely to anticipate.

There was almost no indication the Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off another poor season and with a second-year quarterback coming off a major knee injury, would be good enough to challenge the 49ers. And yet here we are, with the Bengals sitting on a winning record into Week 10, albeit one that has seen them drop two straight after manhandling the Baltimore Ravens on the road in Week 7.

Calling a Niners loss is predicated on the bouncing back from two ugly losses — one on a last-second touchdown to the New York Jets and the other a smashing at the hands of the Cleveland Browns — since rising to the top of the AFC North.

The most likely explanation for who the Bengals are is somewhere in between the team that came out of nowhere to crush the Ravens and the one that fell apart in successive weeks.

In that regard, they aren’t much better than San Francisco.

And in fact, Football Outsiders doesn’t think much of their performance so far in 2021, ranking them as the 22nd best team overall in terms of DVOA (minus-8.5 percent), 23rd on offense (minus-8.2 percent), and 18th on defense (1.1 percent).

In spite of those middling numbers, the great equalizer might be, once again, superior quarterback play from Joe Burrow and a playmaker at wide receiver in rookie Ja’Marr Chase, not to mention Tyler Boyd and running back Joe Mixon.

That, on top of yet another 10 a.m. PT start time, might be too much for the 49ers to overcome. It’s a game fairly close to the Vikings clash, so let’s say the Niners split those two, this time losing the road contest and winning at home.

Record: 5-8

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19 vs. Falcons, 4:05 p.m. ET

Preseason prediction: W

Midseason prediction: W

Next up on the list of very-strange-teams-the-49ers-play-to-close-out-the-season are the Atlanta Falcons, a group that is currently sitting at 4-4 and would be the NFC’s seventh seed if the playoffs started today.

They haven’t been very impressive in getting to that spot so far, however, boasting a minus-45 point differential through eight games (the only current playoff team with a negative differential) while winning their four games by a total of 14 points. And one of those wins was by a touchdown, giving you a good indication of how convincing their other three victories have been.

In fact, the underlying numbers from Football Outsiders suggest that the Falcons are not just not a good team, but are actually quite a bad one. Their DVOA ranks 31st overall (minus-32.7 percent), 25th on offense (minus-13.5 percent), and 31st on defense (14.0 percent). Even their special teams unit ranks 31st with a minus-5.3 percent metric.

The Falcons have outperformed their expected wins by 2.2 wins so far.

All this leads to a game the Niners should be able to win in spite of the presence of a veteran and savvy quarterback like Matt Ryan, the resurgence of dual-threat Cordarrelle Patterson, and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts roaming the field.

Back during the preseason, this could be a trap game. More likely, it just seems like a game between two mediocre-to-bad teams duking it out late in the season.

Record: 6-8