It is even more outlandish to consider that they can still afford to lose another game, and would remain in the hunt for the NFC West title.
But that's the situation, as the 49ers prepare for their rematch with the 6-6 Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks, who beat the 49ers 31-6 in Week 1, are tied with the St. Louis Rams for the NFC West lead.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Kevin Lynch breaks it down on the Chronicle's 49ers blog, explaining a hardly-ridiculous scenario in which the 49ers would be the first 7-9 team to make the NFL playoffs.
"The 49ers need to beat Seattle at home Sunday, and then go to St. Louis and win there and finally, defeat the Cardinals at home to finish the rest of the season 3-1," Lynch writes. "For the 49ers to go to the playoffs, only one mild upset will need to be pulled off, and that's the 49ers beating St. Louis in Missouri on the day after Christmas."
This scenario requires the Rams and the Seahawks to lose all of their remaining NFC games, and go no better than 1-3 the remainder of the season.
If the Rams, Seahawks, and 49ers all finish atop the division with equal 7-9 records, the 49ers would hold all of the tiebreakers and would be crowned winners of the NFC West.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would be afraid to eat barbecued ribs that had been mailed from Texas.