This officially qualifies as dated information, but I definitely wanted to get a post up with a rundown of the 49ers 2012 list of opponents. We had a pretty solid idea of the opponents back in mid-December, but now we have the specifics, as well as some clarification on the rotation of home and away games.
This year the 49ers divisional and conference rotation means they get to play the AFC East and the NFC North. Additionally, they get the first place teams in the NFC East and NFC South. One of the "perks" of winning the division is dates with the rest of the NFC division winners. It is entirely possible one or more of the current "good" teams will take a nose dive, so strength of schedule based on 2011 performance almost provides a starting point for a discussion.
In December, the 49ers season ticket page had the 49ers hosting the Packers and Vikings because of previous rotations. However, that rotation changed in 2010 in order to prevent teams playing the AFC and NFC West from having to make two West Coast trips (to Seattle and to San Francisco) while other teams in their division did not have to make such trips (to Arizona and to St. Louis).
God forbid the league consider such issues for west coast teams traveling east. That would simply be insanity.
HOME: Lions, Bears, Dolphins, Bills, Giants, Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks
AWAY: Packers, Vikings, Saints, Patriots, Jets, Rams, Cardinals, Seahawks
Making predictions at this point would be nothing more than fun and games at this point. We have some ideas about some of the teams, most notably the higher quality teams. But, the teams that struggled or were in the middle of the pack this year could make a significant swing heading into 2012. For example, if Jeff Fisher takes over the St. Louis Rams and they have a solid run through free agency and the draft, they could become a lot better than the 2-14 slop we saw this year.
The Saints, Packers and Patriots would seem to be the three games that are easily the toughest on the schedule just at first glance. Beyond that, you could make cases for any of the other teams bringing a little something to the table. I can't really make specific predictions at this point, but I can throw out some thoughts on how tough I see certain opponents being next year. It's based on performance this year and mere speculation moving forward, but what the heck:
1. Green Bay Packers
2. New Orleans Saints
3. New England Patriots
4. Detroit Lions
5. New York Giants
6. Chicago Bears
7. Seattle Seahawks
8. Miami Dolphins
9. New York Jets
10. Arizona Cardinals
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Buffalo Bills
13. St. Louis Rams