How the Niners could draft No. 2

If the 49ers had beaten the Rams last week, they would have won the NFC West title with a win over visiting Arizona on Sunday.

Instead, the stakes for their meeting against the Cardinals are vastly different.

With a win, they will avoid the indignity of finishing in last place in the NFC West.

With a loss, however, they will enhance their draft position (currently No. 6).

In fact, it’s possible – if highly unlikely – that a loss could catapult them four positions to No. 2 since they would move past the Cardinals and the three four-win teams ahead of them have all faced a stronger schedule (the winning percentage of a team’s 16 opponents is a tiebreaker in determining draft order).

Of course, moving from No. 6 to No. 2 will require a San Francisco loss to the Cardinals and wins by the Bills (at Jets), Bengals (at Ravens) and Broncos (vs. Chargers). Even if that you’ve-got-to-kidding-me scenario occurs, there is a matter of schedule strength, which will be altered by Week 17 games.

Are your eyes crossed yet? Hang in there.

If the Niners win, they will likely draft no worse than 13th since the Vikings (currently No. 14) have played a vastly stronger schedule (.542) than the Niners (.492).

Here’s a look at the current draft order:

1. Panthers 2-13
Week 17 opponent: at Falcons

2. Broncos 4-11
Week 17: vs. Chargers

3. Bengals 4-11
Week 17: at Ravens

4. Bills 4-11
Week 17: at Jets

5. Cardinals 5-10
Week 17: at 49ers

6. 49ers 5-10
Week 17: vs. Cardinals

7. Cowboys 5-10
Week 17: at Eagles

8. Texans 5-10
Week 17: vs. Jaguars

9. Lions 5-10
Week 17: vs. Vikings

10. Browns 5-10
Week 17: vs. Steelers

11. Seattle 6-9
Week 17: vs. Rams

12. Tennessee 6-9
Week 17: at Colts

13. Redskins 6-9
Week 17: vs. Giants

14. Vikings 6-9
Week 17: at Lions

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