With six games remaining this season, including Sunday’s vs. Washington at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers are on the playoff bubble.
At 6-4, they’d be out of the postseason if the regular season were over, a game behind the 7-3 Cowboys, Eagles and Packers.
But Sunday’s game represents the beginning of a six-game season of its own, with four of those games at home. They’ll have Washington and the Seahawks at home this week and next, while finishing at home vs. the Chargers and Cardinals after back-to-back road games at Oakland and Seattle.
Going 6-0 will do the trick, of course, but that’s unlikely. But they need to go 5-1 or at least 4-2 and hope for some help to get into the tournament for a fourth straight season under Jim Harbaugh.
But this final stretch begins with what seemingly is a winnable game against 3-7 Washington. Oddsmakers have made the 49ers 9-point favorites. But they can’t look past Sunday’s game to their big Thanksgiving night matchup vs. the Seahawks. They have to take care of business in Game No. 11 before Game No. 12.
The Niners have some momentum with consecutive victories over the Saints and Giants, but this season the opponent has seemed to matter very little. It’s how the 49ers offense has performed that has dictated whether San Francisco has won or lost. The defense has been steady, despite some major absences. The offense has been up and down week to week.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman told reporters that the 49ers need to be better in the red zone, avoid negative plays and score more consistently. So far, San Francisco has yet to score an offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter in 2014.
“Point production, obviously we’ve got to produce more points,” he said. “We know that. And when you look at it, we just had too many negative plays. So I’ve got to do a better job of coaching and we’ll do a better job of executing and get that right.”
When it comes to efficiency in the red zone, Roman acknowledged that perhaps he’s abandoned the run, which has been effective in the past and now has the luxury of two hard-running backs in Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde.
So, if the 49ers get inside the 20 Sunday, expect to see more power-running plays.
“I do think that we need to run the ball better in the red zone as well,” said Roman. “I don’t think we’ve set ourselves up well down there running the football.”