The 49ers' final regular-season game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at SoFi Stadium will kick off at the same time as the clash between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints, which will have major playoff implications for the 49ers.
But that is inconsequential to Kyle Shanahan. The bottom line: Win and the 49ers punch their ticket to the postseason.
“It doesn’t matter,” Shanahan said on Monday via conference call. “We wouldn’t change anything regardless. We feel like the playoffs started for us yesterday, even before the Houston game, and it will be like that until the year is over.”
If Shanahan and his team are unable to leave Los Angeles with a win on Sunday, only one scenario will allow them to play in a wild-card matchup, and that is a Falcons win over the Saints. New Orleans (8-8) currently has a slightly better record than the Falcons (7-9), but Atlanta won the first contest 27-25 in Week 9.
Ultimately, Sunday's division matchup in Los Angeles feels like a do-or-die situation. If both the 49ers and Falcons lose, the 49ers' 2021 season will be over.
Here's an easy breakdown of the various playoff scenarios for the 49ers, who could be either the No. 6 seed or the No. 7 seed in the NFC, depending on the various permutations.
With a win on Sunday, the 49ers will play the No. 3 seed in the NFC, which could be the Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys or Rams, depending on Sunday’s results.
With a loss to the Rams and a win by both the Falcons and Cowboys, the 49ers would be locked in for a trip to Tampa.
With a loss to the Rams and a win by the Falcons and Eagles, the 49ers would have to return to Los Angeles to play the Rams on two consecutive weekends.
None of these scenarios matter to the 49ers' head coach. Shanahan is only focused on getting a win on Sunday.