The 2016 NFL schedule is officially here and we have all the details. The San Francisco 49ers get to open at home on primetime, facing off against their now state rivals, the Los Angeles Rams. I'm a little surprised the Rams did not get a Week 1 home opener, but such is life. The 49ers get to spend Christmas Eve down in Southern California, when they travel to face the Rams in Week 16.
Here's how the schedule shapes up for the 49ers. All times listed are PT.
Week 1: vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m., ESPN, Monday, September 12 - primetime
Week 2: @ Carolina Panthers, 10:00 a.m., FOX, Sunday, September 18
Week 3: @ Seattle Seahawks, 1:05 p.m., FOX, Sunday, September 25
Week 4: vs. Dallas Cowboys, 1:25 p.m., FOX, Sunday, October 2
Week 5: vs. Arizona Cardinals, 5:25 p.m., CBS Thursday, October 6 - primetime
Week 6: @ Buffalo Bills, 10:00 a.m., FOX, Sunday, October 16
Week 7: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:05 p.m., FOX, Sunday, October 23
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: vs. New Orleans Saints, 1:05 p.m., FOX, Sunday, November 6
Week 10: @ Arizona Cardinals, 1:25 p.m., FOX, Sunday, November 13
Week 11: vs. New England Patriots, 1:25 p.m., CBS Sunday, November 20
Week 12: @ Miami Dolphins, 10:00 a.m., FOX, Sunday, November 27
Week 13: @ Chicago Bears, 10:00 a.m., FOX Sunday, December 4
Week 14: vs. New York Jets, 1:05 p.m., CBS Sunday, December 11
Week 15: @ Atlanta Falcons, 1:05 p.m., FOX, Sunday, December 18
Week 16: @ Los Angeles Rams, 1:25 p.m., FOX Saturday, December 24
Week 17: vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1:25 p.m., FOX, Sunday, January 1
Primetime games: Opener vs. Rams, TNF Week 5 vs. Cardinals
Strength of schedule: .555 (Most difficult)
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The NFL schedule follows a set pattern each year so we already know 14 of the 49ers 16 opponents for a few years into the future. Six of the 49ers' 16 opponents will always be their NFC West rivals: the Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks. The 49ers will also play the entirety of one of the other NFC Divisions. The NFC South is in rotation for 2016, which means the 49ers face the Saints, Bucs, Falcons, and Panthers
Another four games come against an AFC Division. This year, the 49ers will face the AFC East: Patriots, Jets, Dolphins, Bills.
The remaining two games come against NFC teams that finish in the same spot in the divisional standings as the 49ers. Since the 49ers finished in last place in 2015, they face the cellar dwellers in the NFC East and NFC North. Those two teams are the Cowboys and Bears.
There is no indication the formula will be changing anytime soon.
2017: NFC East, AFC South, NFC North/South divisional finish, NFC West
2018: NFC North, AFC West, NFC South/East divisional finish, NFC West
2019: NFC South, AFC North, NFC North/East divisional finish, NFC West