49ers’ division title hopes come down to Sunday vs. Cardinals

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

It’s not time to hit the panic button on the 49ers’ 2021 campaign just yet, but it may be nice to have handy depending on how Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals goes.

There are two pretty clear paths for San Francisco going into Week 5. They’re 2-2 coming off consecutive losses. They need a win if they’re going to contend in what is so far the NFL’s best division.

Arizona topped the Rams in Week 3, who beat the Seahawks on Thursday, who beat the 49ers in Week 4. Everyone in the division has a win except San Francisco. A loss to fall to 0-2 in the division and 2-3 overall paints a bleak picture for their chances to regain NFC West supremacy.

As badly as a loss would damage their standing though, a win would improve it perhaps even more.

Knocking off the undefeated NFC West leaders to push every team to 1-1 in the division would breathe some life into a 49ers season that is foundering after four weeks. A win against the Cardinals would recalibrate expectations for what San Francisco’s ceiling could be this year and put them firmly back in the running for the division.

There’s the added element of Sunday potentially being the first start for rookie quarterback Trey Lance. If he guides the 49ers to a win and plays well in the process, there’d be reason to believe the team as a whole could elevate its ceiling with the added spark under center.

Seasons are never officially decided in Week 5, and there are paths to a division crown even if San Francisco loses in Arizona. A win makes that path much easier to fathom though, while a loss would make it more difficult to stay away from the panic button.