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Third win removes 49ers from race for No. 1 pick, but top five still possible

With Jimmy Garoppolo under center, the 49ers might not need to use a top pick on a quarterback such as Josh Rosen (left) or Sam Darnold. Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Under normal circumstances, the wins the San Francisco 49ers have accumulated over the past two weeks would have been a bad idea in the big picture. After all, a team with no playoff hopes is usually best served to lose as much as possible in hopes of landing a top draft pick.

But there's nothing normal about these Niners because they already seem to have the one thing that losing teams are constantly seeking: a franchise quarterback. With Jimmy Garoppolo in place, San Francisco appears to have answered the biggest question any NFL team can face. Of course, Garoppolo still has much to prove, but the early returns indicate that the 49ers aren't going to be in the mix for the likes of USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen or any other top quarterback prospect in the 2018 NFL draft.

Although it would have been ideal to have a top pick to auction off to a team seeking one of those signal-callers, the fact that the 49ers are winning and Garoppolo is playing well is far more important to the future. They can build needed confidence for a young team and put themselves in position to build the type of culture coach Kyle Shanahan seeks.

It's still entirely possible that San Francisco will draft high enough to have a pick that appeals to a quarterback-needy team, especially if Darnold, Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield are available.

So take heart, 49ers fans. Just because the team's 26-16 win over the Houston Texans all but eliminated it from the No. 1 overall pick (a selection that was almost certainly going to belong to the Cleveland Browns anyway), the Niners are still well-positioned to be major players in the draft and free agency.

Here's a look at where teams stand in the draft order after Week 14, along with what matches remain on their schedules. Remember, if there's a tie for the top pick, the team with the weaker schedule (the lowest opponents combined win percentage) gets the tiebreaker. (Note: Odds for getting the top pick are courtesy of FPI projections for how the season will end, rather than the current standings. The 49ers are at fourth and are projected there as well.)

Cleveland Browns

Chances of getting No. 1 pick: 99 percent

Record: 0-13

Remaining schedule: vs. Baltimore, at Chicago, at Pittsburgh

Strength of schedule: .521

New York Giants

Chances of getting No. 1 pick: Less than 1 percent

Record: 2-11

Remaining schedule: vs. Philadelphia, at Arizona, vs. Washington

Strength of schedule: .503

Indianapolis Colts

Chances of getting No. 1 pick: Less than 1 percent

Record: 3-10

Remaining schedule: vs. Denver, at Baltimore, vs. Houston

Strength of schedule: .515

San Francisco 49ers

Chances of getting No. 1 pick: Less than 1 percent

Record: 3-10

Remaining schedule: vs. Tennessee, vs. Jacksonville, at Los Angeles Rams

Strength of schedule: .485