We're into April, and that means we're that much closer to the NFL schedule release. Last season, the NFL released the 2013 schedule on April 18, eight days before the 2013 NFL Draft. The draft has been moved back two weeks this year, but it sounds like that should not drastically impact the schedule release. NFL PR man Greg Aiello told Pro Football Talk that the league is still planning on a mid-April release.
We should actually get some more info before then in the form of the preseason schedule. Last year, the 2013 preseason schedule was released on Thursday, April 4. That could mean we see the preseason schedule later this week, maybe next week at the latest.
The NFL moved the 2014 NFL Draft back to May, claiming they had a scheduling conflict with a show that was going on at Radio City Music Hall. That show has since been delayed, but the NFL is sticking with the May draft. There has been speculation that the NFL already wanted to move the draft to May even because they want to spread out the offseason schedule. A May draft means you get the Super Bowl and Combine in February, free agency in March, the schedule release in April, the draft in May, OTAs in June, training camp in late July. There is still some down time, but every month on the calendar features some kind of notable date.
The most amusing part about the schedule release is that it will draw huge ratings on TV. It will outdraw most any live sporting event that day, further proving the NFL remains king. The release lets us know when the 49ers will be on prime time, and how their schedule difficulty looks, at least at this early juncture. We don't know how teams will completely look in the fall, but we can at least assess the road trips and when the apparent "difficult" games are scheduled.
It also means we get official confirmation on the 49ers first regular season opponent at Levi's Stadium, and whether or not the 49ers open the season up in Seattle. It will open the door for all sorts of discussion, and hopefully carry us through the few weeks before the draft!
And of course, for those of us not residing in the Bay Area, it provides important dates for figuring out travel plans. I am hoping to get out to San Francisco for the Levi's opener, but I'm also likely heading to Denver when the 49ers play the Broncos. If the 49ers get a Thanksgiving game, I might make my way out as well, but we'll see. And the 49ers-Giants game likely means road trip to New Jersey!
Here is your full rundown of 49ers regular season opponents in 2014.