The San Francisco 49ers have announced the dates and times for their 2020 regular season schedule as well as their four preseason opponents.
This season, the 49ers will face the NFC East and AFC East in cross-divisional play while continuing to battle their NFC West opponents twice a year. San Francisco will also see the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints, as both teams finished first, along with the 49ers, in their respective divisions. Here are 12 observations from the 49ers full 2020 NFL schedule.
1. Preseason Slate
For the second-straight season, the 49ers will head to Denver to face the Broncos in the preseason. Last year, the 49ers and Broncos held relatively harmonious joint practices at the UCHealth Training Center. It shouldn't be much of a shock if both teams decide to hold sessions together again in 2020.
San Francisco will follow up by hosting a preseason matchup against the now-Las Vegas Raiders. The 49ers and Raiders last met in the preseason back in 2011 and their last regular season matchup, the "Battle of the Bay," was in 2018.
The 49ers will see the closest thing to regular season football in the Week 3 dress rehearsal against the Chicago Bears.
For the 34th-consecutive season, the 49ers will face the Chargers in the preseason, occurring in the exhibition finale. Dates and times for preseason games will be released in the coming weeks.
2. Home Opener
For the first time since 2017, the 49ers will open up the season at Levi's® Stadium. This year, the 49ers will get an early look at DeAndre Hopkins as a Cardinal in the season opener. The new-look Cardinals also added Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell this offseason and versatile linebacker Isaiah Simmons in the draft, who said to be designed to “stop” tight ends like George Kittle. It will be an intriguing divisional battle to kick off NFC West supremacy early.
This year marks the first time since 2016 the 49ers open the season against an NFC West opponent.
It's become accustom for fans to eagerly check upcoming season schedules to see when and how often their teams will play under the national spotlight. Primetime games routinely feature marquee teams and players to be featured on national broadcasts.
The defending NFC Champs were awarded the max-allotted, five primetime games (four at home) in 2020, beginning in Week 4 as the 49ers host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Two weeks later, the 49ers will host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football for the second-consecutive season. The 49ers swept the Rams in 2019, including their last-minute victory in Week 16 that featured two 3rd-and-16 completions to power the win.
In Week 9, the Green Bay Packers will make their third trip in one calendar year to Levi's® Stadium, which will broadcast on Thursday Night Football. The Packers and 49ers met twice last season, first in Week 12, and again in the NFC Championship game, where the 49ers rattled off a 37-20 victory en route to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2013.
The 49ers wrap up their home primetime matchups in Week 13 as they host the star-studded Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football in their first trip to Levi's® Stadium. The Bills traded for star wide receiver Stefon Diggs this offseason in addition to the signings of defensive end Mario Addison, cornerback Josh Norman and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson.
Finally, the 49ers will travel to the "Lone Star State" to face the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 on Sunday Night Football. The 49ers are 11-6 all-time at home on Sunday Night Football and were 5-1 in primetime games last season.
*Per the NFL, Sunday night games in Weeks 5-16 are subject to change.
4. On the Road Again
San Francisco has three separate stands of back-to-back road matchups, starting with Weeks 2 and 3. The 49ers are set to face the New York Jets then New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in consecutive weeks. This is the second time in team history San Francisco is taking on the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks (Weeks 13-14 of 1986) and the first time doing so on the road in back-to-back weeks.
Last season, the 49ers stayed on the east coast in between road games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1) and Cincinnati Bengals (Week 2), and the Baltimore Ravens (Week 13) and New Orleans Saints (Week 14). It's likely the 49ers take a similar approach to avoid the negative effects of lengthy back-and-forth travel.
In Week 7, the 49ers will head to Foxborough to face the New England Patriots before traveling to the Pacific Northwest in a divisional match against the Seattle Seahawks. Their final stretch of consecutive road games sit at the end of the slate, as the 49ers face the Cowboys in Week 15 followed by their final meeting of the season with the Cardinals in Arizona.
5. Playoff-Caliber Matchups
Six of the 13 teams the 49ers will face in 2020 made the playoffs last season. That list includes the Eagles, Patriots, Seahawks, Packers, Saints and Bills. The 49ers will play the fourth-toughest schedule in 2020. Their upcoming opponents posted a collective 134-120-2 record in 2019.
6. Fresh Faces
San Francisco will face three teams with new head coaches heading into 2020: Joe Judge (Giants), Mike McCarthy (Cowboys) and Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team). Last season, the 49ers faced five teams with first-year head coaches, winning matchups against all five (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals).
Aside from their divisional rivals, the 49ers will face two opponents from the 2019 season. In Week 9, the Packers seek revenge from their NFC Championship woes. The 49ers will also return to the lively Superdome the following week to face former teammate Emmanuel Sanders and the Saints.
8. Football Weather
The 49ers lucked up in 2020, with the majority of their cooler-weather cities front loaded on the schedule. The latest San Francisco is slated to travel out east is mid-November (Week 10) to New Orleans and Dallas in December (Week 15).
(Both indoor stadiums)
9. Early Risers
Faithful will have to wake up early just twice in 2020. Currently, the 49ers play two 10 a.m. PT games in 2020: Week 2 against the Jets and Week 3 against the Giants. As for the rest of the season, the team is slated for either an afternoon or evening (primetime) kickoff.
10. Bye Bye Bye
Contrary to Week 4 of last season, the 49ers late-season Bye could prove beneficial down the stretch should the 49ers be in contention for a playoff spot. This marks the third time in four seasons that the 49ers have had their Bye in Week 11. Following the Bye, the 49ers will evenly split their final six contests between home and road trips and a final meeting against each of their division rivals.
11. Grand Finale
For the second-straight season, the 49ers will face the Seahawks in the season finale. Week 17 could potentially have plenty of playoff implications, similarly to the 49ers NFC West title-clinching game against Seattle in 2019. The 49ers open and close the regular season at home for the first time since 2016.
12. Frequent Flyers
The 49ers will travel over 29,700 miles round trip between cities in 2020.