The 49ers had a different style of Super Bowl-losing hangover in 2020. After going 13-3 and winning the NFC in 2019, a rash of injuries dropped San Francisco to 6-10 and last place in the tough NFC West.
Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch expect a massive rebound when operating through the 2021 NFL schedule. Quarterback change is looming from Jimmy Garoppolo to rookie first-rounder Trey Lance, but around the QB the 49ers still have a strong running game, dynamic receivers and a defense that should be an all-around force again, led by healthy Nick Bosa.
Will the 49ers look more like the best team in the NFC instead of one of the worst? Here is a complete breakdown of the 49ers’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 17 games.
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San Francisco 49ers schedule 2021
The 49ers’ schedule will be released as part of the NFL’s schedule release on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET. These are the teams that they are currently scheduled to play during the 2021 NFL season.
Here is the San Francisco 49ers’ complete schedule for 2021.
Home: Packers, Texans, Vikings, Rams, Falcons, Cardinals, Colts, Eagles
Away: Eagles, Bears, Titans, Cardinals, Jaguars, Rams, Lions, Eagles, Bengals
The 49ers will look to go from worst to first, hoping to be more formidable foes for the Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks over their usual six division games. They also get to play the quartets from the NFC North and AFC South.
Because of their anomalous results in 2020, the 49ers draw a last-place schedule. Beyond the Lions and Jaguars, that means they will also play the Eagles and Falcons from the NFC and the Bengals from the AFC.
49ers strength of schedule
The 49ers are tied with the Bills and Patriots for the 12th-easiest schedule in the NFL. San Francisco’s 2021 opponents went a combined 132-138-2 last season, for a .489 win percentage. The Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks all have much tougher slates in relation to the 49ers.
There are four games in the division against returning playoff teams, vs. Seattle and Los Angeles. Green Bay, Chicago, Indianapolis and Tennessee make it eight in 17 games, but that’s balanced out by a lot of weak teams.
Toughest tests: Every game in NFC West play is tough. The 49ers also need to deal with the Packers, Vikings and Colts in San Francisco. When going on the road outside the division, the Titans and the Bears are the two limited challenges.
Biggest breaks: All the last-place teams are nice, led by the Jaguars, Lions, Bengals and Falcons. The Texans might be the worst team in the NFL and the Eagles are in transition, too. There are six golden opportunities to pad the record in the quest to be best in the NFC West again.
Bottom line: The 49ers will take full advantage of their down season and the reward of the schedule that comes with it. Whoever’s at quarterback, the offense will be explosive and the defense will play off that to make its share of big plays. The coaching is too good under Shanahan, despite a few staff losses. The personnel points to another grand 180.
Record prediction: 12-5
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