In the two weeks since, those hopes have taken a pair of massive hits, including Sunday's disappointing 23-15 loss to the Washington Football Team. For the Niners, it was a must-have game at the start of a four-game stretch in which every game would fall into the must have category.
Instead, the Niners offense failed to provide the necessary support to a defense that did all it could to keep them in the game. In fact, the 49ers offense not only didn't put up the points needed to win the game but also teed Washington up for a pair of touchdowns that paved the path to victory.
The 49ers began the day with a 28% chance of making the postseason, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. That number would have jumped to 35% with a victory. Instead, it plummets to 14.7% with the defeat.
With games remaining against Dallas, Arizona and Seattle, the Niners are still mathematically in the playoff race, but they are eliminated from the NFC West race. Given how they've played the past two weeks -- and, really, all season -- it's hard to see them stringing together the wins to pull off such an improbable feat.
More likely, Sunday's loss will be the death knell in a season that's seemed cursed from the beginning, and it's almost time to look ahead to what will be a busy and interesting offseason by the Bay.
Deebo departs: 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel left the game after just one snap, a 9-yard carry in which he suffered a hamstring injury. It's the latest in a series of health issues that have plagued Samuel's season. He has appeared in just seven games because of previous foot and hamstring injuries and now it's fair to wonder if he's played his final game this season. The last time he tweaked his hamstring, it cost him three games. That's how many the 49ers have left to play.
Troubling trend: The Niners finished Sunday's game with three turnovers, including a fumble by quarterback Nick Mullens that Washington defensive end Chase Young returned 47 yards for a touchdown and an interception that Washington safety Kamren Curl brought 76 yards back for another score. It was the seventh consecutive game in which the 49ers have turned the ball over at least twice, the longest streak by the franchise since the 2008 team did it in eight straight contests.
Troubling trend, II: Sunday's result probably should have been clear when the Niners entered the locker room at halftime trailing 13-7. San Francisco is now 0-7 this season when down at the half, making it one of five teams to not have a second-half comeback victory along with the Jets, Panthers, Texans and Falcons.