49ers don't make it back to Super Bowl in ESPN's 2020 sim


It took 13 wins for the 49ers to secure the No. 1 seed in the 2019 NFC playoffs.

But in 2020, it won't take as many wins to lock up the top seed and a first-round bye, according to ESPN.com's simulation of the upcoming season.

Using their Football Power Index, ESPN ran a staggering 20,000 simulations of the 2020 season and the 49ers finished with an 11-5 record which, surprisingly, was good enough to win the NFC West and earn the No. 1 seed.

But the party stops there for the 49ers, who would be the only team in the NFC to receive a bye into the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

After the Dallas Cowboys upset the NFC East-winning Philadelphia Eagles in the wild-card round, Dak Prescott and Co. come into Levi's Stadium and knock off the 49ers, 39-26, to advance to the NFC Championship Game, according to the simulation.

That's a stunning result for the 49ers, who still are expected to have one of the best defenses in the NFL. And a No. 1 seed probably shouldn't lose to a Wild Card team.

In ESPN's simulation, the Cowboys would beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC title game, but then lose to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens, the 49ers fully expect to return to the big game in Tampa, Fla. next February. Anything less would be seen as a failure considering the talent on the roster.

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So a divisional-round exit would be disappointing for coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.

They have to hope that the real-life roster they've assembled is better than the virtual team ESPN ran through 20,000 simulations.