NFL 2021 San Francisco 49ers: Schedule, Predictions and Key Games
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San Francisco 49ers' Schedule in 2021 NFL
The San Francisco 49ers' schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate on Wednesday.
The 2021 NFL season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 9 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Football opener on Sept. 13 will feature the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Baltimore Ravens (7:10 p.m. ET).
The NFL will change its schedule for the first time in 44 years, expanding to 17 regular-season games. The final regular-season games will be played January 9, 2022. The playoffs begin January 15, 2022 and continue through Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium.
Here's what in store for the 49ers:
Sept. 12: at Detroit
Sept. 19: at Philadelphia
Sept. 26: vs. Green Bay (SNF)
Oct. 3: vs. Seattle
Oct. 10: at Arizona
Oct. 17: BYE
Oct. 24: vs. Indianapolis (SNF)
Oct. 31: at Chicago
Nov. 7: vs. Arizona
Nov. 15: vs. Los Angeles Rams (MNF)
Nov. 21: at Jacksonville
Nov. 28: vs. Minnesota
Dec. 5: at Seattle (SNF)
Dec. 12: at Cincinnati
Dec. 19: vs. Atlanta
Dec. 23: at Tennessee (TNF)
Jan. 2: vs. Houston
Jan. 9: at Los Angeles Rams
Strength of schedule: T-19th, .489
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (Week 3): Nobody had more injury hardship than the 49ers last year. This is an outstanding litmus test for a team many expect will bounce back to Super Bowl contention, according to NFL.
The one storyline that looms largest is what happens at quarterback. The 49ers insist that Jimmy Garoppolo will open camp as the starter with rookie Trey Lance having the opportunity to turn it into a competition if he picks things up quickly. Even if that doesn't happen, Lance doesn't seem to be as far off as many think and coach Kyle Shanahan could install some wrinkles for him to get acclimated before he steps into the starting role. One way or another, this will be the story that defines the Niners' season. If Lance takes over at some point, there are some intriguing matchups against quarterbacks like fellow first-round pick Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears to whom Lance will be forever linked.
The 49ers will win the NFC West. San Francisco's record the past four seasons indicates 2019 was an aberration, but that ignores important context around why those losing seasons occurred. The injury situation will improve -- it would almost have to -- and the 49ers will go from worst to first in the division, according to ESPN.
In 2019, the San Francisco 49ers were NFC champions. In 2020, they finished 6-10 and felt the need to trade up to the third overall pick in this year's draft for a new franchise quarterback to replace Jimmy Garoppolo.
2020 was a dramatic drop that didn't have much to do with an actual drop in talent, but was more a result of a rash of injuries. The Niners had to survive injuries to Garoppolo, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt and K'Waun Williams.
Given the role each of those players had on the roster, no team would have had a winning season losing that many players for extended periods of time.
Penciling in the team to return to their Super Bowl contending status would be a bit hasty, though. Garoppolo has been injury-prone his entire career, and Trey Lance might not be ready to take over after playing one game in 2020 at North Dakota State.
Free agency wasn't kind to them either. Richard Sherman has yet to sign for a team, Thomas, Ahkello Witherspoon and Kerry Hyder are gone as well. They signed Samson Ebukam to reinforce the pass rush, but the defense got worse through free agency.
The draft was mostly focused on the offense. Third-round pick Ambry Thomas wasn't on our big board and opted out of the 2020 season, so it might be a while before he makes an impact.
Playing in the NFC West will slow the rebound as well, according to Bleacherreport.
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