Could the 49ers clinch before Thanksgiving?
The San Francisco 49ers haven't been to the NFL playoffs since 2002, but they could be ending that drought this season in record time.
Yes, the 49ers could actually clinch the NFC West before Thanksgiving.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com has crunched the numbers and determined that San Francisco, which has the league's second-best record at 6-1, would win the division no matter what with six victories in its final nine games. Winning six would put the 49ers at 12-4, whereas the best second-place Seattle can do is 11-5.
Sando suggested a scenario by which the 49ers could win by Week 11, or Nov. 20, by getting to nine victories while their division opponents could finish the season with no more than eight. For that to unfold, the following would have to happen:
San Francisco (6-1) -- The 49ers win at Washington, then at home against the New York Giants and Arizona.
Seattle (2-5) -- The Seahawks lose at Dallas, at home against Baltimore, and at St. Louis.
Arizona (1-6) -- The Cardinals beat St. Louis, then lose at Philadelphia and San Francisco.
St. Louis (1-6) -- The Rams lose at Arizona and Cleveland, and beat the Seahawks at home.
-- Sam Farmer
Photo: Running back Frank Gore is surrounded by 49ers linemen after scoring in the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns. Credit: Nhat V. Meyer / McClatchy-Tribune