Last year, the 49ers had a three-game November gauntlet that helped prove their status as one of the best teams in the league: Packers, at Ravens, at Saints. (The 49ers went 2-1.)
This year, the 49ers embark on a seven-game stretch that will either re-establish them as contenders or seal their fate as the latest team that lost the Super Bowl and then failed to get back to the playoffs.
Consider this stretch, starting next Sunday night on NBC: Rams, at Patriots, at Seahawks, Packers, at Saints, at Rams, Bills. Given the injuries and their current quarterback struggles, how many of these games will the 49ers win?
Some 49ers fans fret that the answer is none. Indeed, it’s entirely possible (although not likely) that the 49ers will now embark on a seven-game free fall.
Whatever they do, they can’t hide. Six of the next seven games are slated for prime TV placement, from Sunday Night Football (vs. Rams) to 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS (at New England) to 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX (at Seattle) to Thursday Night Football (vs. Packers) to 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX (at Saints) to Monday Night Football (vs. Bills).
Although it would be foolish to write them off, at this point it would be more than foolish to write them in for a spot in the Super Bowl, or even in the postseason.