Analytics Reveal Where the 49ers Now Stand in the Playoff Race

Jauan Jennings

Getty Jauan Jennings runs for the first down before getting pushed out of bounds during the 49ers' road win at Jacksonville.

The San Francisco 49ers received a surprise Thanksgiving treat courtesy of the Buffalo Bills.

With the Bills feasting on the New Orleans Saints 31-6 to close out the Turkey day slate of games, the Bills’ victory helped elevate the 49ers in one area: Their playoff hopes.

The 49ers, once 2-4 and facing an array of criticism from fans, media personalities and even legendary 49er players, are now climbing up the NFC playoff picture ladder after winning their last three of four games.

And the 49ers are starting to brim with confidence in re-finding their identity as a hard-nosed, run-first football team especially in victories over the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Kyle Shanahan himself told the Bay Area media on Friday, November 26 that he’s energized when the 49ers resort back to their ground-and-pound approach.

“Yeah, I think it’s when you can dictate it and the best way to dictate a game is to run the ball. And to do it, it’s not just the running back, it’s not just the O-Line and it’s not just the offense. I feel like when you can dominate a game through the run game yeah, you’ve got to have all of that with the offense, but it’s the whole team,” Shanahan said to reporters. “And teams that do that, not just once in a while, but teams that can win a lot of games doing that are usually teams that are extremely hard to beat in any situation in any condition and any type of game.”

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But from a percentage standpoint, how do things look on the 49ers’ pursuit of the postseason? Especially with another NFC playoff hopeful in the Minnesota Vikings on the horizon?

Analytics Unveiled 49ers’ Shot of Making the Playoffs

At 11:19 p.m. PT on Thursday, November 25, the analytical website FiveThirtyEight updated its 2021 NFL playoff prediction percentages for each team.

What do the 49ers’ chances look like? Above 50%, the analytics site says.

FiveThirtyEight tabs the 49ers with a 52% shot of making the playoffs — giving them the 14th highest percentage for teams looking to add game No. 18. That means, the site has the ‘Niners as the 14th and final NFL playoff team.

In the NFC, the ‘Niners are rated higher than the Philadelphia Eagles at 43%, the Washington Football Team at 29% and the team that’s fallen out of the NFC playoff picture at the moment the Saints — calculated with a 21% chance of making the postseason. Meanwhile, Sunday’s opponent for the ‘Niners are slotted higher than S.F. with a 61% possibility of reaching the playoffs.

More on the complete percentage standings can be found here.

But that’s not all for the 49ers.

What a Sunday Win Does

The 49ers aren’t just entering their Sunday home game against the Vikes as a 2.5 favorite, but FiveThirtyEight is giving them a 59% chance of beating Minnesota at Levi’s. The Vikings were given a 41% chance of winning the battle of 5-5 teams.

And, via Sacramento Bee 49ers beat writer Chris Biderman, here’s what a victory over the Vikes does for S.F:

A win over Minnesota officially plugs the 49ers in the sixth spot of the NFC playoff race while bumping down the Vikes.

Before the Saints’ loss, the 49ers were on the outside looking in as the No. 8 among NFC playoff hopefuls. But now, by virtue of the Bills’ drubbing of New Orleans, it elevates the ‘Niners.

Finally, as 49ers reporter David Lombardi of The Athletic pointed out below, the ‘Niners could position themselves to possibly leapfrog two seven-win teams in the Rams and Dallas Cowboys (a 36-33 Thanksgiving Day loser to the Las Vegas Raiders) if they continue on their winning roll.

Will the 49ers beat the Vikings? Here's a previewJimmy Garoppolo vs. Kirk Cousins. Follow @LombardiHimself2021-11-26T22:30:10Z

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