Before Sunday night's dismantling at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers had the NFC's second best record and were in control of their bye week destiny. As of right now, Jim Harbaugh's 49ers are holding onto the NFC's third best record. If the playoffs started today, the 49ers would host a wildcard game against the Minnesota Vikings, a team that handed the 49ers their first loss of the season. Sunday's loss gave control of the bye week to the Green Bay Packers.
As you will see below, the 49ers can still get a playoff bye week. However, things can go badly and they can also be a wildcard team and play a game on the road.
Best case scenario for week 17
The 49ers can still secure a bye week and the second seed in the NFC with a little help during week 17. Get ready to cheer on Adrian Peterson and his Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. In addition to a 49ers win against the Arizona Cardinals, which is no longer a guarantee considering how they played against the Seahawks, the Vikings would have to beat the Green Bay Packers in Minnesota. This would jump San Francisco past Green Bay and then the 49ers would await the strongest victor from the wildcard round.
Another scenario for week 17
If the 49ers beat the Cardinals and the Vikings were to lose to the Packers, San Francisco would still win the NFC West, no matter what the Seahawks do during week 17. They would then host a wildcard game in San Francisco. A win there would then send them on another trip to Green Bay (the 49ers won the week 1 matchup) for the divisional playoffs. This would be a tough playoff road.
Worst case scenario for week 17
Colin Kaepernick is winless against the NFC West. A week 17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and a Seahawks win against the St. Louis Rams in Seattle would give the Seahawks the NFC West crown. The 49ers would then have a much tougher playoff road. The 49ers would then play a wildcard game on the road. A win, depending on the result of the other wildcard game, would send them to either Atlanta or Green Bay for the divisional playoffs.
San Francisco clinches NFC West division with: 1) 49ers win or tie OR 2) Seahawks loss or tie
San Francisco clinches a first-round bye with: 1) 49ers win + Packers loss or tie OR 2) 49ers tie + Packers loss
Since the 49ers play at the same time as the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the first priority is to win their game against the Arizona Cardinals and win the NFC West, at minimum securing a home wildcard game. We'll have to let the playoff picture in Minnesota work itself out.
Date: December 28, 2012 at 7:31 PM
Comment: More than likely they will get 3 seed and await #6 in playoff standings. With the injuries on DLine @WR, will send them to an early departure in the playoffs. Lets hope we draft a DT, DE to eventually replace Justin Smith and pick up a experienced WR in free agency and lock up Goldson long term!
Date: December 27, 2012 at 6:32 PM
Comment: Be Real! Be a Niner!
Date: December 27, 2012 at 5:25 PM
Comment: What really has to happen for them to play a wildcard game on jan 5th @ Candelstick?
Date: December 26, 2012 at 5:58 AM
Comment: Great comments AlanR. Really right on. The smart play selection for 5-7 yards for niners is close to zero. Bill Walsh is turning in his grave. The long ball is there but no consistent success in 2nd an 6-7-8 situations. Very little 4-5 yard on first down. It doesn't help that they get more delay of game penalties in one half than many teams incur in a SEASON. Something is broken.
What hits me too is how different the 9er D is playing. Last season they hurt people. They punished people. This year, I don't see it so much besides Whitner. The Seattle game the Niners hardly ever got a clean shot at Lynch. They were tripping up his shoelaces. Weird. Not having JSmith hurts. But it shouldn't hurt that much. What's going on?
By: 49er Fan in Sacto
Date: December 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM
Comment: Everybody calm down and keep perspective. Division championship is still a virtual lock. Road trip to GB not as daunting with Packers defense not as intimidating. Home against Chicago in wild card round may be good tune up for offense to get sharper.
By: Alan R (cont)
Date: December 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM
Comment: They are about on track, even though the losses came from mostly unexpected places. It isn't the end of the world. But, the coaching staff need to step up to the "next level". If we fall behind we can't adjust (in play calling or motivation). We're not one dimensional, but certainly lack enough dimensions to manage a variety of approaches in one game in a smart way. Changing defensive schemes and almost throwing the game away in New England does count as smart variety.
I'm not panicking. I'll be at the Cards game on Sunday expecting a backlash on a weak team. Seattle was one game in a very tough environment against a team that is clicking right now. They are playing like the Texans were at the start of the season. Good for them. It's good to see the division that was called the NFC Worst now being seen as the NFC Best. But, the Niners need to adjust and see the division isn't a 6 game "win gimmie". It's now like the NFC East, you have to really EARN your record. The Rams and Hawks play hard, dirty, smash-mouth football and we need to do better in terms of coping and overcoming that. Kaep's playing style is a step in that direction, or Smith #11 would have had a drive.
Date: December 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Comment: Thanks for putting the team in this mess Coach Harbaugh! Hope you're as happy with Kapernick's play last night as I was! But remember, when you woke up today you still held the lead in the NFC West...for now.
By: Alan R
Date: December 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Comment: Issues were:
1. Out coached, predictable on offense
2. Feels like since Kaep took over we've been unable to establish run or short pass game (this is where Smith #11 excelled)
3. Impatient offense in play calling, too much long ball without foundational short-game
4. Special teams weakness evident again
5. Unable to contain Wilson who had a great game. Well played!
6. Flat defense...concerned if Smith #94 makes that much difference...depth? We shipped in over 70 points in the last 6 quarters. Please stop whatever it is that we've started to do differently!
7. There is an inability to keep the O on the field for long drives, which means the D is gassed. O needs to step up and become accountable for driving the team forward.
8. The Seahawks WANTED this game way more than the Niners did. Both teams got what they deserved. Well played Seattle. I like Coach Carroll. He wears his heart on his sleeve and loves what he does.
At the start of the season I looked at the schedule and thought 10-6 would be a reasonable record. Prime loss concerns were away to Pats, Hawks, Saints and Pack, plus a wild defeat here and there, like the Giants or Cards. They are about on track, even though the