Niners' playoff chances are 50-50

Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh have considerable hurdles to clear to get back to the playoffs. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Football Outsiders does a huge NFL season simulation each year and presents the results in our annual "Football Outsiders Almanac." If you are a San Francisco 49ers fan and open this year's book to your team's report, you may be a bit shocked to see that we give them only a 50-50 shot to make this season's playoffs.

OK, technically it's a little more than 50-50. The 49ers make the postseason in 51.4 percent of our 1 million simulations. But still, doesn't that seem awfully low? San Francisco went 12-4 last season and has been one of the most dominant teams in the league for three years. In three straight postseasons, the 49ers have lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion. How could they possibly miss the playoffs this year?

There's a two-part answer to that question. First, the 49ers may not be as dominant as we tend to think, especially in the first half of this season. Second