The San Francisco 49ers face a tough stretch to open the season, visiting Minnesota, hosting Detroit, and then traveling to Kansas City and Los Angeles (Chargers). If they come out of that stretch 2-2 or better, they could be in great shape for the rest of the season. But I don’t think anybody would be surprised by a 1-3 open to the season.
However, one metric does not see that as the most difficult stretch of the 49ers schedule. Football Outsiders put together a look at schedule strength using DVOA, and offered up the hardest schedule stretch for each team. For the 49ers, it is actually Weeks 6-8 that are the toughest. In that stretch, the 49ers travel to face the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football, and travel to face the Arizona Cardinals.
On the other hand, the easiest stretch comes after Week 9. The 49ers host the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football that week (November 1), then have only one game over the course of 23 days. They host the New York Giants on Monday Night Football 11 days later, have a bye for Week 11, and then play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 25.
The 49ers close out the season with a three week homestand against Denver, Seattle, and Chicago, but will it matter at that point? That first half of the schedule will be a tough one, but enough to negate some of those easier stretches in the back half?
The 49ers show up on four schedules as part of a toughest stretch. The Detroit Lions toughest stretches starts with their Week 2 matchup in Santa Clara. The Los Angeles Rams toughest stretch is Weeks 5-9, which includes three straight road games against Seattle, Denver, and San Francisco. The Chicago Bears toughest stretch is Weeks 14-17, when they host the Rams and Packers, and then travel to face the 49ers and Vikings. Finally, Denver’s toughest stretch is Weeks 11-14, with a road game against 49ers on the back end after a road game against the Bengals.