SANTA CLARA, Calif. - It wasn't difficult to pinpoint when the San Francisco 49ers' schedule would become considerably more challenging back when it was released in May, though at the time no one predicted they’d head into Week 6 at the bottom of the NFC West with a losing record.
Fresh off a brutal loss to the Miami Dolphins, the 2-3 Niners are battling costly injuries and moving forward they have the NFL’s most difficult schedule, according to Tankathon. The team’s remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .698 after five weeks of football.
Some of the biggest hurdles ahead are in the team’s division, with a pair of games against both the undefeated Seattle Seahawks and the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams. Green Bay and Buffalo, who combined have one loss through five weeks, will be a tall order in the season's latter half.
The Washington Football Team and Dallas Cowboys, who are down quarterback Dak Prescott after a season-ending injury last week, currently have the worst records of Niner’s opponents after Week 5. They’re the only teams with a losing record. Dropping them both from the calculations leaves the remaining opponents with a combined .767 winning percentage.
For scale, the next three on the list of difficult schedules face combined winning percentages ranging from .608 to .630, and after that, it’s the NFC West’s Arizona Cardinals with a .583.
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Moving into this difficult phase of the season, the big question is who will be the quarterback on the field. The 49ers looked to Jimmy Garopplo to prove this season that he’s a franchise quarterback that can lead the team back to the Super Bowl.
Last week against the Dolphins, Garoppolo returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. His two-quarter, 77-yard performance with two interceptions got him replaced by C.J. Beathard with his team trailing 30-7.
Garoppolo did practice Wednesday, a strong sign that he’ll get the start again when they host the Rams Sunday night. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he expected his quarterback to have a full practice and would be evaluating him while he's out there.
This story was reported from Oakland.