SANTA CLARA — They need a break.
The 49ers are freaking exhausted. They started the season 8-0, but since then they’re 3-3 and they just lost a home game to an Atlanta Falcons team that won’t make the playoffs.
The 49ers will make the postseason — they clinched that already. But they’re limping toward the playoffs, not walking or running. And if they don’t earn a first-round bye, they might crash and burn.
“We’re playing a good team every week,” rookie Pro Bowler Nick Bosa said in the locker room. “In college, you’re playing a good team maybe three times a year. In this league, you have to prepare the same every week. It sounds like a broken record. You really have to take your focus to a new level.”
Bosa sounds mentally and physically drained. He never played more than 536 snaps in season at Ohio State, but has played 665 snaps for the 49ers already. The Niners need a week off. And they’ll get one if they win their final two regular-season games.
“Everything is still right in front of us,” Bosa said. “What we’ve done early in the year has helped us get to this point.”
Here are five key factors that will determine whether they earn a bye: