Predicting 49ers final 5 games to make a playoff run
Week 18: 49ers vs. Cardinals
Weekend of Jan. 7/8, time TBD
At this rate, don’t expect this game to mean much.
The Cardinals, who sit at 4-8 through 12 games, shouldn’t factor into the playoff race and may simply be playing to avoid the cellar of the NFC West. They may even be without head coach Kliff Kingsbury by then or he may be on his way out after the season.
The 49ers could be going for a clean sweep of the division in 2022, although it seems likely that a 5-1 record could be good enough to secure them the division no matter what Seattle does outside of the Thursday Night Football contest to kickstart Week 15.
And so this game could mean almost nothing, especially if the results go as predicted here and the Niners are already into double-digit victories, including four with Brock Purdy at quarterback.
Stating the obvious, so much of what happens down the stretch will come down to what Purdy can do.
Or, perhaps more appropriately, what he doesn’t do.
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None of the remaining offenses on the 49ers’ schedule are world beaters like the Kansas City Chiefs or Buffalo Bills that the Niners’ defense can’t hold down as it did Miami last Sunday. And so the season, and whether this team can get into the playoffs or win the division, will come down to whether Purdy can stay on schedule and not make any massive mistakes.
If Purdy has done that, then the main objective of this final game against Arizona will be not to get anyone hurt. If he hasn’t, the 49ers may, as they have done several times in the Kyle Shanahan era already, be fighting for their playoff lives in Week 18.
Based on these predictions, the Niners don’t need this game and so they may lose their second in a row. But it’s all still good enough to win the NFC West, secure the No. 3 seed in the NFC, and earn the right to host a playoff game at Levi’s Stadium.
Result: 49ers lose 20-17
Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo will return by then. Maybe he won’t.
But no matter what, you know for sure that given the way 2022 has gone up to this point, it won’t be boring.