How 49ers can make playoffs entering regular-season finale


Rookie Trey Lance stepped in for injured 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and grabbed his first career NFL win Sunday. Still, it wasn't enough for San Francisco to clinch an NFC wild-card playoff spot.

At least not yet.

After beating the Houston Texans 23-7 on Sunday at Levi's Stadium, the 49ers (9-7) will look to punch their playoff ticket in next week's regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams.

Entering Sunday, San Francisco could have clinched a wild-card berth with a win over the Texans, combined with a Carolina Panthers win over the New Orleans Saints. The latter didn't happen, which means the 49ers must wait another week to potentially celebrate, though they'd have to beat a Rams team that could need a win to clinch the NFC West title over the Arizona Cardinals.

The Saints (8-8) will visit the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons (7-9) next week, and must win to have any chance.

Here's the 49ers' playoff scenarios, as they stand now:

The Minnesota Vikings were eliminated from playoff contention with a Sunday night loss to the Green Bay Packers. That allowed the Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) to clinch one of the two remaining wild-card spots, with the final berh going to either the 49ers or the Saints.

Here are the updated NFC playoff standings entering Sunday night.

z-1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)

x-2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

z-3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)

z-4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

x-5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)

6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)

x-7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)

8. New Orleans Saints (8-8)

x-denotes team has clinched a playoff berth

z-denotes team has clinched division title

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