San Francisco will play a last-place schedule after finishing in the basement of the NFC West last season.
The San Francisco 49ers will begin their quest for a sixth Lombardi Trophy three days later when they’re on the road to take on the Detroit Lions. Oddsmakers like the moves general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan made this offseason, giving the Niners the second-best odds to win the NFC.
With Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Fred Warner and Trent Williams headlining the roster, San Francisco has high hopes going into next season.
Of course, expectations are similar to what they were going into the 2020 campaign. The 49ers were coming off a devastating loss in the Super Bowl and fans were hoping the team would go on a revenge tour to capture the title.
Then, Week 2 happened. The Niners lost Bosa, Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman and Raheem Mostert to long-term injuries by the end of their second game and never recovered, finishing last season with a 6-10 record.
There is a big difference between the past two years when it comes to the 49ers. Coming off a 13-3 finish in 2019, the Niners played a first-place schedule in 2020. They finished in the basement of the NFC last season, which means the schedule will be more favorable in 2021.
Here is the 49ers’ full 2021 schedule:
Week 1: @ Lions (10:00 a.m.)
Week 2: @ Philadelphia Eagles (10:00 a.m)
Week 3: vs. Green Bay Packers (5:20 p.m. – SNF)
Week 4: vs. Seattle Seahawks (1:05 p.m.)
Week 5: @ Arizona Cardinals (1:25 p.m.)
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs. Indianapolis Colts (5:20 p.m. – SNF)
Week 8: @ Chicago Bears (10 a.m.)
Week 9: vs. Cardinals (1:05 p.m.)
Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Rams (5:15 p.m. – MNF)
Week 11: @ Jacksonville Jaguars (10:00 a.m.)
Week 12: vs. Minnesota Vikings (1:25 p.m.)
Week 13:@ Seahawks (5:20 p.m. – SNF)
Week 14: @ Cincinnati Bengals (10:00 a.m.)
Week 15: vs. Atlanta Falcons (1:05 p.m.)
Week 16: @ Tennessee Titans (5:20 p.m. – TNF)
Week 17: vs. Houston Texans (1:05 p.m.)
Week 18: @ Rams (1:25 p.m.)
Their opponents combined to go 132-138-2 in 2020, good for a .489 winning percentage, which is tied for the 13th easiest, according to the NFL Network. If you go by Vegas projected win totals, the 49ers have the easiest schedule in the league.
Because San Francisco finished fourth in the NFC West, it will have matchups against the Lions, Eagles and Falcons, the three teams who were last in the remaining three divisions in the conference in 2020.
The 2021 campaign marks the first time in history that we will have an 18-week regular season. Because of the last-place finish, the Niners will benefit from the extra game, taking on the rebuilding Cincinnati Bengals.
San Francisco played a fourth-place schedule two seasons ago and we all saw the result. With a healthy Garropolo and Bosa in the lineup plus more overall talent on the roster than in 2018, the 49ers rolled to an 8-0 start en route to winning the division.
Shanahan is hoping for a similar start to the 2021 campaign. San Francisco begins the schedule with back-to-back games on the east coast. As we all know, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, but both Detroit and Philadelphia aren’t expected to be very good next season.
Similar to past years when they played consecutive games in the east, the 49ers will likely spend the week between Games 1 and 2 in Youngstown, Ohio. This will give the players a chance to mesh and do some team-building during that time, just like they did between their wins against the Buccaneers and Bengals to begin the 2019 campaign.
The toughest stretch of the schedule comes early in the season. The Niners host the Packers and Seahawks in Weeks 3 and 4 before hitting the road for a matchup against the Cardinals. They’ll get an early BYE in Week 6 before taking on DeForest Buckner and the Colts in Week 7.
There’s no doubt the NFC West will be a blood bath in 2021. All four teams have playoff aspirations, and oddsmakers believe San Francisco, L.A. and Seattle are among the favorites to win the conference.