The 49ers won’t suit up Thanksgiving Day, but there’s still plenty at stake for San Francisco during the three-game holiday slate.
In a crowded NFC and their fate as a division winner or wild card team still hanging in the balance, every week the rest of the way will have a ton of peripheral impact on the 49ers in their quest for a return to the postseason.
Here’s what each game means for the 49ers on Thursday:
Bills at Lions
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There’s not a ton at stake for San Francisco in the first game. Buffalo is a team they could face if they make a run to the Super Bowl, but that’s a long way away for both clubs.
Detroit is hanging on the fringes of the playoff picture at 4-6, two games back of the Seahawks for the No. 7 seed in the NFC. The 49ers could be in the mix for that No. 7 seed as they duke out with Seattle atop the NFC West. A Lions win wouldn’t necessarily be bad for the 49ers, but a loss would virtually push Detroit out of the playoff picture for good and limit the teams in contention for the No. 7 spot down the stretch.
Giants at Cowboys
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This is a big one for the 49ers. Both clubs are 7-3 and two games back of the Eagles in the NFC East. There could be seeding at stake, if the 49ers wind up in a wild card spot. For now though the winner of this game will be the No. 5 seed, and the loser will be the No. 6 seed. San Francisco is the No. 3 seed to start Week 12, and if they stay there to finish the year they’ll host the No. 6 seed on Wild Card Weekend.
With seeding and a potential playoff opponent at stake, this game will matter more than any other for San Francisco on Thanksgiving.
Patriots at Vikings
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Unless a 49ers fan is closely following the progress of former future 49er Mac Jones, the Patriots’ result here isn’t of much consequence to San Francisco. 49ers fans should be pulling for the Pats though. Minnesota is leading the NFC North and sitting as the NFC’s No. 2 seed with an 8-2 record. If they catch an L against the Patriots, they’d be imminently catchable for the 49ers should they continue holding their NFC West lead. Rooting against the Vikings should be something the 49ers do for the rest of the season.