An In-depth Look at the 49ers 2021 Opponents


On Wednesday, the league is set to release dates and times for all 272 games slated for the 2021 season, including each of the San Francisco 49ers 17 regular season matchups.

NFL owners approved the vote to officially expand regular season games from 16 to 17 beginning this season as part of the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. With the addition of the 17th game, the 49ers will now add a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals onto their slate of regular season matchups in 2021.

In addition to San Francisco's divisional opponents (Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks), the 49ers will also face the NFC North and AFC South. The 49ers will also see the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, as both teams also finished last in their respective divisions.

As we await the release of San Francisco's 2021 schedule, which will be revealed Wednesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. PT on, the 49ers app and on all of the team's social media platforms, here's a breakdown of how each of the team's opponents fared in 2020, notable offseason moves and an analysis from Bleacher Report.

* denotes 2020 playoff appearance

Arizona Cardinals

(Home and Away)

2020 Record: 8-8

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers stunned the Cardinals and their postseason hopes in a Week 16, 20-12, victory. With both Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens sidelined due to injuries, C.J. Beathard threw three touchdown passes in the win and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-high 183 yards and added a receiving score on the day.

Recent Additions: DL J.J. Watt, CB Malcolm Butler, WR A.J. Green, C Rodney Hudson, RB James Conner

Notable Draft Picks: LB Zaven Collins (No. 16 overall), WR Rondale Moore (No. 49 overall), CB Marco Wilson (No. 136 overall)

Recent Departures: CB Patrick Peterson (Minnesota Vikings), OLB Haason Reddick (Carolina Panthers), RB Kenyan Drake (Las Vegas Raiders)

What the Analysts are Saying: "After his team narrowly missed the postseason in 2020, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pushed his chips into the middle of the table in free agency.

"In three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, the Cardinals acquired an impressive complement to Chandler Jones in the front seven, and the move more than offsets the departure of edge-rusher Haason Reddick. The Redbirds added a replacement for cornerback Patrick Peterson in Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler, who signed a team-friendly contract that counts just $2.2 million against the salary cap in 2021.

"On offense, the Cardinals swapped veteran wide receivers, replacing 37-year-old Larry Fitzgerald (who is expected to retire) with 32-year-old A.J. Green. The team also added three-time Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson via a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders and signed guard Brian Winters, who started nine games for the Buffalo Bills last year."

Falcons 49ers Football

Atlanta Falcons


2020 Record: 4-12

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: Atlanta served San Francisco their final regular season loss of their 2019 Super Bowl campaign following a goal line touchdown from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. After a replay reversal, the 5-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion gave the Falcons a 29-22 lead with :02 left on the clock.

Recent Additions: RB Mike Davis, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, S Duron Harmon, LB Barkevious Mingo, OLB Brandon Copeland

Notable Draft Picks: TE Kyle Pitts (No. 4 overall), S Richie Grant (No. 40 overall), OL Jalen Mayfield (No. 68 overall), CB Darren Hall (No. 108 overall)

Recent Departures: LB Keanu Neal (Dallas Cowboys), S Damontae Kazee (Dallas Cowboys), C Alex Mack (San Francisco 49ers), S Ricardo Allen (Cincinnati Bengals), DE Allen Bailey (free agent)

What the Analysts are Saying: "Due in no small part to the massive cap hits of veterans like quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, the Atlanta Falcons weren't in position to do a lot in free agency.

"Sure enough, it was pretty quiet in Atlanta. Players like running back Mike Davis, edge-rusher Brandon Copeland and safety Erik Harris all offer upside at a relatively low cost, but none is a sure bet to make a substantial impact in 2021.

"The Falcons did take a couple of sizable hits as well. Center Alex Mack isn't the player he once was, but he was still an important part of the offensive front. The departures of defensive backs Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Ricardo Allen ramp up the pressure on Harris to not only start but also play well."

Bears 49ers Football

Chicago Bears*


2020 Record: 8-8

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers last faced the Bears in Week 16 of the 2018 season. All of the 49ers points came from former Bears kicker Robbie Gould in the 14-9 loss. Mullens completed 22-of-38 passes for 241 yards.

Recent Additions: QB Andy Dalton, CB Desmond Trufant, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Damiere Byrd

Notable Draft Picks: QB Justin Fields (No. 11 overall), OT Teven Jenkins (No. 39 overall), OT Larry Borom (No. 151 overall), RB Khalil Herbert (No. 217 overall)

Recent Departures: CB Buster Skrine (free agent), CB Kyle Fuller (Denver Broncos), DL Roy Robertson-Harris (Jacksonville Jaguars), QB Mitchell Trubisky (Buffalo Bills)

What the Analysts are Saying: "It's no secret that Mitchell Trubisky hasn't lived up to his status as the second-overall pick in the 2017 draft. Or that the Bears were looking to upgrade at the game's most important position. But after the team's reported offer for Russell Wilson was rejected, Chicago settled on Andy Dalton, a signal-caller whose last winning season came in 2015.

"Chicago released its best cornerback (Kyle Fuller) to save cap space, replacing him with aging veteran Desmond Trufant, 30, whose lone season in Detroit was an injury-shortened fiasco. There wasn't a single position group the Bears improved after going 8-8 and barely making the playoffs in 2020.

"Slapping the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson was the highlight of the offseason.

"That tells you everything you need to know."

49ers Bengals Football

Cincinnati Bengals


2020 Record: 4-11

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers put up a whopping 41 points in the Week 2 victory over the Bengals in 2019. Garoppolo threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, including Deebo Samuel's first-career score.

Recent Additions: DE Trey Hendrickson, OT Riley Reiff, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Mike Hilton, RB Samaje Perine

Notable Draft Picks: WR Ja'Marr Chase (No. 5 overall), G Jackson Carman (No. 46 overall), DE Joseph Ossai (No. 69 overall), DL Cameron Sample (No. 111 overall)

Recent Departures: WR A.J. Green (Arizona Cardinals), CB William Jackson, DL Carl Lawson

What the Analysts are Saying: "For many years, the Cincinnati Bengals weren't big players in free agency. That has changed over the past couple of seasons, and they were busy again in 2021.

"The problem is that many of the signings were made to offset personnel losses.

"Edge-rusher Trey Hendrickson inked a four-year, $60 million contract, but that came after Carl Lawson left for the New York Jets. Cornerback Mike Hilton is an upgrade over Mackensie Alexander in the slot, but the team backslid on the boundary by swapping William Jackson III for Chidobe Awuzie.

"Cincinnati did get a bump at right tackle when it brought in Riley Reiff to replace Bobby Hart, but upgrading an offensive line that struggled mightily and allowed the fifth-most sacks in 2020 remains at the top of the to-do list in the draft.

"The Bengals also lost a pair of veteran cornerstones. They released defensive tackle Geno Atkins in a cap-saving move, while the best wide receiver in franchise history (A.J. Green) signed with the Cardinals."

49ers vs. Lions

Detroit Lions


2020 Record: 5-11

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The Lions and 49ers last met in Week 2 of the 2018 season in a 30-27 victory for San Francisco. Garoppolo completed 18-of-26 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Matt Breida made his first-career start and ended the day with a career-high 138 rushing yards (which also led the NFL in Week 2) and a touchdown.

Recent Additions: QB Jared Goff, WR Tyrell Williams, TE Josh Hill, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, CB Quinton Dunbar

Notable Draft Picks: OT Penei Sewell (No. 7 overall), DT Levi Onwuzurike (No. 41 overall), DT Alim McNeill (No. 72 overall), CB Ifeatu Melifonwu (No. 101 overall)

Recent Departures: WR Jamal Agnew (Jacksonville Jaguars), LB Jarrad Davis (New York Jets), WR Marvin Jones Jr. (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Kenny Golladay (New York Giants)

What the Analysts are Saying: "Given that Detroit landed a pair of first-round picks when it dealt Matthew Stafford to L.A. for Jared Goff, the trade may one day be viewed as a masterstroke. After all, Goff has done something that Stafford never did—lead his team to a Super Bowl.

"But in the short term, this was a significant downgrade, and that's sadly a theme for Detroit's offseason.

"With the exception of swapping Desmond Trufant for Quinton Dunbar at cornerback, the 2021 offseason was one step back after another. Goff isn't entering a situation where he's set up to succeed after the Lions top two wideouts (Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr.) both departed and were replaced with middling options in Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman.

"New Lions general manager Brad Holmes appears to be playing the long game. But that's little solace to a fanbase that hasn't seen a victory in the postseason in three decades."

1105-Packers-Eman PBU-16x9

Green Bay Packers*


2020 Record: 13-3

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers were ravished by injuries in the Week 9 meeting against the Packers. San Francisco managed to put up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter in the 34-17 loss. Richie James recorded a career-high 184 yards receiving and a score on nine receptions. Aaron Rodgers threw for 305 yards and four touchdowns in the primetime matchup.

Recent Additions: n/a

Notable Draft Picks: CB Eric Stokes (No. 29 overall), OL Josh Meyers (No. 62 overall), WR Amari Rodgers (No. 85 overall), OG Royce Newman (No. 142 overall)

Recent Departures: C Corey Linsley (Los Angeles Chargers, RB Jamaal Williams (Detroit Lions), LB Christian Kirksey (Houston Texans), DL Montravius Adams (New England Patriots), G Lane Taylor (Houston Texans)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The good news for the Green Bay Packers is that they had arguably the best offseason of any team in the NFC North. The bad news is that isn't necessarily saying a lot.

"The Packers managed to avoid prominent losses, with one glaring exception: Pro Bowl center Corey Linsley signed a five-year, $62.5 million pact with the Los Angeles Chargers. Green Bay re-upped star running back Aaron Jones and retained restricted free-agent tight end Robert Tonyan.

"Still, the status quo is a lot easier to swallow with a team that won 13 games in 2020 and made the NFC Championship Game in each of the past two years."

Jimmy G makes Texans pay for bringing big blitz

Houston Texans


2020 Record: 4-12

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers and Texans last met in Week 14 of the 2017 season as Garoppolo made his second start as San Francisco's signal caller. The quarterback threw for 334 yards and a touchdown in the 26-16 victory.

Recent Additions: QB Tyrod Taylor, C Justin Britt, WR Donte Moncrief, CB Vernon Hargreaves III, LB Christian Kirksey, RB Mark Ingram II

Notable Draft Picks: QB Davis Mills (No. 67 overall), WR Nico Collins (No. 89 overall), TE Brevin Jordan (No. 147 overall), DT Roy Lopez (No. 195 overall)

Recent Departures: DL J.J. Watt (Arizona Cardinals), WR Will Fuller V (Miami Dolphins), DL Carlos Watkins (Dallas Cowboys), C Nick Martin (Las Vegas Raiders), LB Benardrick McKinney (Miami Dolphins), LB Tyrell Adams (Buffalo Bills)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Houston Texans were active in free agency. The problem is that while the team added a bucket full of players, they didn't get better while doing it.

"Houston added a pair of edge-rushers by trading for Shaq Lawson and acquiring Jordan Jenkins. But the two of them put together won't offset the loss of three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. For the second successive season, Houston watched arguably its best wide receiver leave town.

"This is a team with no quarterback. Too many running backs. A bad offensive line. And a defense that just lost the best player in franchise history. It's going to take more than a flurry of mostly directionless signings to fix that."

49ers at Colts

Indianapolis Colts*

2020 Record: 11-5

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The Colts and 49ers last met in 2017 in an overtime, 26-23, road loss. Brian Hoyer threw for 353 yards and two touchdowns, including George Kittle's first-career score.

Recent Additions: QB Carson Wentz, OT Sam Tevi, OT Julie'n Davenport, S Sean Davis

Notable Draft Picks: EDGE Kwity Paye (No. 21 overall), DT Dayo Odeyingbo (No. 54 overall) TE Kylen Granson (No. 127 overall) S Shawn Davis (No. 165 overall)

Recent Departures: LB Anthony Walker (Cleveland Browns), DL Denico Autry (Tennessee Titans), QB Jacoby Brissett (Miami Dolphins), S Tavon Wilson (San Francisco 49ers), OT Anthony Castonzo (free agent)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Indianapolis Colts offseason will be judged by one thing and one thing only—whether or not quarterback Carson Wentz can turn his career around with a change of scenery. The Colts didn't have to surrender an outrageous amount of draft capital to obtain him (a third-round pick in 2021 and a conditional second-rounder in 2022), but taking on Wentz's contract was a significant risk.

"Outside that bold move, it was a typically reserved offseason from Colts GM Chris Ballard. The team tried to replace the retired Anthony Castonzo with a couple of fliers in Sam Tevi and Julie'n Davenport, but other than that, the focus was keeping players like wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and cornerback Xavier Rhodes in town.

"There were some potentially significant losses though—especially on the defensive side of the ball. Denico Autry is a quality starter capable of playing both end and tackle, and with linebacker Anthony Walker now in Cleveland, Bobby Okereke is going to have to step up opposite standout Darius Leonard."


Jacksonville Jaguars


2020 Record: 1-15

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: San Francisco stunned the then-playoff bound Jaguars in Garoppolo's first season with the 49ers. San Francisco's defense recorded three interceptions off of Blake Bortles and the 49ers scored five total touchdowns in the 44-33 victory.

Recent Additions: CB Shaquill Griffin, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Roy Robertson-Harris, WR Marvin Jones Jr., WR Jamal Agnew, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malcom Brown

Notable Draft Picks: QB Trevor Lawrence (No. 1 overall), RB Travis Etienne (No. 25 overall), CB Tyson Campbell (No. 33 overall), OT Walker Little (No. 45 overall)

Recent Departures: WR Keelan Cole (New York Jets), DT Al Woods (Seattle Seahawks)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Jacksonville Jaguars entered free agency with more cap space than any team in the NFL. The Jaguars weren't afraid to throw some of that cash around, either. The question is how well that money was spent.

"The Jaguars more than offset the loss of wide receiver Keelan Cole with Marvin Jones Jr., who should offer rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence a veteran safety net in the passing game. But handing cornerback Shaquill Griffin over $13 million a season and inking safety Rayshawn Jenkins to a four-year, $35 million pact both smack of overpays. So does franchise-tagging tackle Cam Robinson, but a one-year commitment is hard to find too much fault with.

"With that said, it can be argued that after a one-win 2020 season, the Jaguars had to overpay to entice higher-end free agents to sign with the team, and if the new regime in Jacksonville can make good use of the franchise's high draft position, this latest rebuild in Duval County will be off to a solid start."


Los Angeles Rams*

(Home and Away)

2020 Record: 10-6

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: While decimated with injuries, the 49ers pulled off a 23-20 Week 12 victory over the Rams. San Francisco limited Goff to under 200 yards passing and no scores. Javon Kinlaw registered his first-career interception along with Richard Sherman, who notched the 36th of his career.

Recent Additions: QB Matthew Stafford, WR DeSean Jackson

Notable Draft Picks: WR Tutu Atwell (No. 57 overall), ILB Ernest Jones (No. 103 overall), DT Bobby Brown III (No. 117 overall), CB Robert Rochell (No. 130 overall)

Recent Departures: QB Jared Goff, EDGE Samson Ebukam, TE Gerald Everett, CB Troy Hill and S John Johnson

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Los Angeles Rams entered free agency with very little cap space to work with—and it shows.

"The departures of star safety John Johnson and cornerback Troy Hill to Cleveland created a sizable hole in the back end of the Rams defense. The losses of Morgan Fox and Samson Ebukam up front leaves the Rams precariously short on depth in the front seven. And the loss of slot receiver Josh Reynolds and tight end Gerald Everett puts significant pressure on Tyler Higbee and newcomer DeSean Jackson to step up in the passing game.

"However, the Rams offseason was all about the trade that brought Matthew Stafford to the West Coast. No one is arguing against Stafford being an upgrade over Jared Goff and his abomination of a contract. But after shipping two first-rounders to Detroit, the Rams won't pick in Round 1 until 2024, at least.

"The Rams are a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the NFC. But Los Angeles has very little depth. General manager Les Snead also overpaid to re-up Leonard Floyd, who got $16 million a season despite just one 10-sack season over his five-year career."

APTOPIX Vikings 49ers Football

Minnesota Vikings


2020 Record: 7-9

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers and Vikings last met in the Divisional Round of the 2019 postseason where San Francisco outscored Minnesota 27-10 to advance to the NFC Championship Game.

Recent Additions: G Mason Cole, EDGE Stephen Weatherly, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Nick Vigil, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Xavier Woods

Notable Draft Picks: OT Christian Darrisaw (No. 23 overall), QB Kellen Mond (No. 66 overall), LB Chazz Surratt (No. 78 overall), G Wyatt Davis (No. 86 overall), DE Patrick Jones II (No. 90 overall)

Recent Departures: LB Eric Wilson (Philadelphia Eagles), TE Kyle Rudolph (New York Giants), OT Riley Reiff (Cincinnati Bengals), Edge Ifeadi Odenigbo (New York Giants), S Anthony Harris (Philadelphia Eagles)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Minnesota Vikings are stuck in the place no team wants to be. They aren't a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but entering the offseason the Vikes didn't appear to be a serious threat to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Not much has changed.

"This isn't to say that the team didn't add any pieces in free agency. Defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson is a lane-clogging run-stuffer who should thrive in Mike Zimmer's scheme. Patrick Peterson may not be the shutdown cornerback he once was, but he's still a capable veteran presence the shaky Minnesota secondary badly needed.

"But the Vikings also suffered some significant losses. The departure of tackle Riley Reiff was a blow on the offensive front. While the team tried to offset the loss of Anthony Harris by adding Xavier Woods, the safety spot opposite Harrison Smith is a question mark. The Packers could afford a status quo offseason. Minnesota couldn't."

APTOPIX Eagles 49ers Football

Philadelphia Eagles


2020 Record: 4-11

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers fell to the Eagles in Week 4 of the 2020 season, 25-20, on Sunday Night Football.

Recent Additions: S Anthony Harris, QB Joe Flacco, LB Eric Wilson

Notable Draft Picks: WR DeVonta Smith (No. 10 overall), C Landon Dickerson (No. 37 overall), DT Milton Williams (No. 73 overall), CB Zech McPhearson (No. 123 overall)

Recent Departures: QB Carson Wentz (Indianapolis Colts), DT Malik Jackson (Cleveland Browns), CB Jalen Mills (New England Patriots), WR DeSean Jackson (Los Angeles Rams), Edge Vinny Curry (New York Jets), LB Duke Riley (Miami Dolphins), LB Nathan Gerry (San Francisco 49ers)

What the Anaylsts are Saying: "The Philadelphia Eagles are punting on the 2021 season. It's as simple as that.

"The trade that sent quarterback Carson Wentz to Indianapolis caused the Eagles to eat an NFL record $33.8 million dead cap hit, which destroyed the team's ability to add pieces in free agency. Philly's trade with the Miami Dolphins earned the team an extra first-rounder in 2022, but it also dropped the team out of the top 10 this season. They'll be back up there next year.

"It wasn't all doom and gloom. Safety Anthony Harris has shown the ability to be an impact player on the back end and his one-year, $4 million contract was a steal. But the Eagles defense took a hit from front to back, and one of the league's shakiest pass-catching corps hasn't gotten one bit better."

Week 8 @ Seattle Seahawks 1:25 p.m. PT (Fox)

Seattle Seahawks*

(Home and Away)

2020 Record: 12-4

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: In the Week 17 season finale, the 49ers fell to the Seahawks, 26-23 to close out their 2020 campaign.

Recent Additions: TE Gerald Everett, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, DL Kerry Hyder Jr., G Gabe Jackson

Notable Draft Picks: WR D'Wayne Eskridge (No. 56 overall), CB Tre Brown (No. 137 overall), OT Stone Forsythe (No. 208 overall)

Recent Departures: WR Phillip Dorsett (Jacksonville Jaguars), CB Shaquill Griffin (Jacksonville Jaguars), TE Jacob Hollister (Buffalo Bills), RB Carlos Hyde (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR David Moore (Carolina Panthers)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The prevailing offseason storyline for the Seattle Seahawks has been the uncertain future of quarterback Russell Wilson. But despite all the talk that Wilson could be traded, Seattle's star is still in town.

"The Seahawks took a big step toward making Wilson happy by improving the line in front of him with the acquisition of guard Gabe Jackson in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. Seattle also bolstered the pass rush with the addition of veteran edge Kerry Hyder Jr. while retaining Carlos Dunlap II and Benson Mayowa.

"The defense did take some hits in free agency, however. Seattle's top two cornerbacks (Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar) are gone, as is defensive tackle Jarran Reed. If K.J. Wright doesn't return, pressure will mount on young linebacker Jordyn Brooks to improve markedly in his second season."

Week 15 vs. Tennessee Titans 1:25 p.m. PST (CBS)

Tennessee Titans*


2020 Record: 11-5

Last Meeting Against the 49ers: The 49ers defeated the Titans, 25-23 in the 2017 Week 15 matchup. Gould recorded 19 of the 49ers 25 points

Recent Additions: Edge Bud Dupree, DL Denico Autry, OT Kendall Lamm, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Kevin Johnson, WR Josh Reynolds

Notable Draft Picks: CB Caleb Farley (No. 22 overall), OT Dillon Radunz (No, 53 overall), LB Monty Rice (No. 92 overall), CB Elijah Molden (No. 100 overall)

Recent Departures: TE Jonnu Smith (New England Patriots), WR Corey Davis (New York Jets), WR Adam Humphries (Washington Football Team), CB Malcolm Butler (Arizona Cardinals), CB Adoree' Jackson (New York Giants), Edge Jadeveon Clowney (Cleveland Browns), S Kenny Vaccaro (New Orleans Saints)

What the Analysts are Saying: "The Tennessee Titans had a relatively eventful offseason—for better and for worse.

"Adding an outside pass-rusher was easily Tennessee's biggest priority in free agency, and it accomplished that goal, handing Bud Dupree a five-year, $82.5 million deal. But that signing came with a caveat—Dupree tore his ACL in Week 12 last year.

"The Titans brought in a talented and versatile defensive lineman in Denico Autry, added a pair of veteran cornerbacks in Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson and signed a capable starter at wide receiver in Josh Reynolds. But those latter moves were necessary because the team lost its No. 2 and No. 3 wideouts and its top two corners.

"That last part is the real sticking point with what Tennessee has done. After losing Logan Ryan in 2020, the Titans badly need Jenkins to be their top cornerback, and even then it's hard to imagine the secondary will not take a step backward."

Related Content