From rematches with rivals to reunions with former “trusted agents,” the 2014 regular season schedule is full of noteworthy matchups for the San Francisco 49ers.
Each game on the 16-game schedule could earn a 1,000-word write-up on this special day, unofficially known as the league’s “schedule release extravaganza.”
But for now, we’ll do you a solid by avoiding the “low-hanging fruit,” Instead, here the most important notes on this year’s calendar.
1. Short Rest for a Big Game
On the day we give thanks and enjoy loads of turkey, the 49ers will take their home field on three days rest against the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco’s first-ever home game on Thanksgiving Day comes on the heels of a Week 12 matchup against the Washington Redskins at Levi’s® Stadium. It’s worth noting that Seattle has lost five consecutive road games against San Francisco.
The Chicago Bears were there for
3. Home Cooking
You never want to play catch-up in the NFL. It’s all about starting your respective season on the right note. San Francisco will play at home in three of the first five weeks of the season, an opportunity to take a lead or keep pace in what figures to be a competitive NFC West race. A solid start to the season is crucial as the 49ers will play one home game in the month of October. That will be the team’s first regular season game against the Alex Smith-led Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 5. After that, San Francisco won’t return home until Nov. 2.
4. Primetime Flexing?
The 49ers have four primetime games in 2014: Week 2 versus Chicago, Week 6 at the St. Louis Rams, Week 7 at the Denver Broncos and Week 13 versus Seattle. The matchup with the Rams is San Francisco’s only 2014 appearance on “Monday Night Football.” The 49ers, however, could find their way into a late-game primetime matchup. Noteworthy games can now be flexed into “Sunday Night Football” games as early as Week 5. Road matchups against the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints could be candidates for TV-friendly maneuvering.
5. Back-to-back Long Travel Weeks
Speaking of those games against the Giants and the Saints, they also happen to be the only 10 a.m. PT games on the schedule. It’s not out of the question that the 49ers could use their connections in Youngstown, Ohio, to stay in the Midwest between the Week 11 and 12 games in New York and New Orleans.
6. West Coast Final Six
The 49ers traveled a league-high 39,641 miles last season. Remember that trip to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in London? That didn’t help. The “Road Warrior” and “We’ve Been Everywhere, Man” mentality won’t be as prevalent this coming season. San Francisco will spend the final six weeks of the regular season in the Pacific time zone, including two visits to in-state opponents Oakland (Dec. 7) and San Diego (Dec. 20).
7. Top Quarterbacks ahead
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Eli Manning and Russell Wilson – the 49ers will face four different Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Outside of those top passers, San Francisco will have the task of stopping well-known, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks like Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Nick Foles, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III and Philip Rivers. The 49ers new-look secondary will surely be tested.
8. Bye the Way
The Week 8 bye is pretty well timed for the 49ers. After seven games to start the season, two in the division, San Francisco will have Week 8 to get rested for the final nine regular season contests. After the bye, the 49ers will have four games against playoff teams of 2013, including two against Seattle in a three-week span between Weeks 13 and 15.