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NFL schedule to be released at 5 p.m. PT, Thursday, April 14

The NFL is bringing mid-April Christmas a week early! The NFL announced on Wednesday that the 2016 regular season schedule will be released Thursday, April 14 at 5 p.m. PT. I expected the release to happen next week, the week before the 2016 NFL Draft, but the NFL thankfully surprised us with an earlier release.

I would expect rumors to percolate throughout the day, with various primetime and otherwise notable games to leak out before the release. NFL Network will have a whole ton of coverage, which is pretty impressive considering we're just talking about dates and times for these games. But we're obviously covering it with great detail, so they know what they're doing.

The 49ers schedule strength based on last year's records is among the most difficult in the league. Obviously last year's records do not always indicate how a team will do the following season, but this is certainly not an easy schedule. The 49ers get the defending NFC champs, the AFC title game runner-ups, improving Jets and Buccaneers teams, and the always difficult NFC West. The question now is how that difficult schedule will lay out for the 17 weeks of the 2016 regular season. We'll know in less than 24 hours.

Home opponents: Arizona, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, New England, NY Jets, Dallas

Away opponents: Arizona, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Carolina, Buffalo, Miami, Chicago