49ers won’t be able to clinch playoff berth after Saints win

Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

The 49ers had one easy Week 17 scenario to get into the playoffs, but half of that equation didn’t come true with the Saints beating the Panthers.

In an ideal world, two things would have happened for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 as far as their 2022 playoff hopes are concerned.

First, the Niners needed to ensure they beat the visiting Houston Texans at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. Second, San Francisco needed to be fans of the Carolina Panthers, visiting the also-contending New Orleans Saints in Week 17, too.

Well, at least the 49ers handled their business.

The Niners got a bit closer by beating Houston 23-7 behind rookie quarterback Trey Lance, who notched his first win as an NFL starter in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, to improve to 9-7 on the year and getting back into the No. 6 seed over the seventh-seeded Philadelphia Eagles, who also hold a 9-7 record after beating the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

But Carolina didn’t do Lance, head coach Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco any favors, falling XX-XX to New Orleans.

The Saints, now 8-8, could feasibly steal a playoff berth from the 49ers, unless one of the following scenarios pan out.

49ers must beat Rams in Week 18 or have Saints lose to Falcons

Week 18 will matter to the Niners no matter what, and they’ll have to travel to Southern California to face off against the 12-4 Los Angeles Rams, who could be gunning for the NFC West crown next Sunday after the Arizona Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys

A San Francisco win would ensure Shanahan and Co. get into the postseason. But that’s not the only way things could work out, especially if the 49ers fall victim to Los Angeles.

The Niners could still make it into the playoffs despite a loss to the Rams, but it would involve New Orleans losing on the road to the Atlanta Falcons, who have been eliminated already but will want to play spoilers versus their NFC South division rivals.

Either way, San Francisco still controls its own destiny and can get in with another win, but it also wouldn’t mind getting a little help from a Falcons team they beat back in Week 15.

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