The NFL announced the 2016 regular season schedule on Thursday evening, and the San Francisco 49ers are one step closer to kicking off the Chip Kelly era. The NFL Draft is still two weeks away, and the 49ers are just getting into the on-field coaching portion of their offseason workout programs. That means plenty will change between now and September 12 when the 49ers host the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.
In spite of all that, as always, I am happy to go out on a limb today and put together my first round of predictions. I did incredibly poorly last season, predicting a 10-6 record. That obviously did not work too well. I generally am a bit more of a homer when it comes to record predictions, but I'm going with a 7-9 record this year. Of course, given some of the evaluations by people here, that might still be a wildly optimistic view. Either way, these are mostly gut considerations. We'll be doing plenty more predictions the rest of the offseason.
49ers 2016 schedule prediction
Week 1: vs. Los Angeles Rams WIN ... Another season opener under the lights. The Rams just moved up to No. 1, and there will be plenty of talk about them following a preseason that will include them being on Hard Knocks. I think the 49ers get the W.
Week 2: @ Carolina Panthers LOSS ... The 49ers best hope is for the Super Bowl runner-up curse to kick in. The Panthers will have Kelvin Benjamin back, and could be even more dangerous.
Week 3: @ Seattle Seahawks LOSS ... Not the best two-game road trip.
Week 4: vs. Dallas Cowboys WIN ... Odds Tony Romo is actually healthy for this game? I think even if he is healthy, the 49ers could still spring an upset against Dallas.
Week 5: vs. Arizona Cardinals LOSS ... The NFC West is the Cardinals for the taking. The big question for them will be the status of Tyrann Mathieu in his ACL recovery. The short week is not the end of the world coming after a home game.
Week 6: @ Buffalo Bills WIN ... Tyrod Taylor is coming off a breakout year. Can he carry it over, and what happens if the Bills draft a QB early? Locker room issues there? Rex Ryan teams are as unpredictable as they come.
Week 7: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WIN ... Jameis Winston had a strong rookie year. Will he have a sophomore slump, or build on last year?
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: vs. New Orleans Saints WIN ... Hey, what do you know, a Saints game at home! If healthy, the Saints are dangerous. But will they actually build something out of that defense. Drew Brees and that offense are not nearly as good on the road as they are in the dome.
Week 10: @ Arizona Cardinals LOSS ... I just don't see the 49ers winning against Arizona this year. The Cardinals may choke in the playoffs, but they are still the team to beat in the NFC West.
Week 11: vs. New England Patriots LOSS ... Bill Belichick vs. Chip Kelly. An intriguing battle of the minds.
Week 12: @ Miami Dolphins WIN ... Every year people think the Dolphins are going to step up, and every year they struggle. Will it change? Doubtful.
Week 13: @ Chicago Bears LOSS ... Vic Fangio gets some shots in on the 49ers?
Week 14: vs. New York Jets LOSS ... The Jets showed some solid signs last year, and they could build on it. If they don't re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, I would be fine changing this prediction.
Week 15: @ Atlanta Falcons WIN ... Late season collapse right around this point in Atlanta sounds about right.
Week 16: @ Los Angeles Rams LOSS ... I have no idea what to make of this Rams team in 2016.
Week 17: vs. Seattle Seahawks LOSS ... Finishing up a 1-5 season in divisional play? Yep, I could see it.