Football is almost back as the San Francisco 49ers have released their schedule for the 2017 regular season.
This year, San Francisco will take on the AFC South and the NFC East in addition to six annual matchups against NFC West opponents.
At a first glance, the 49ers look to have a legitimate chance of improving from a forgettable 2-14 season, though a closer look reveals the team possesses potential ceiling of 5-11 in Kyle Shanahan’s inaugural season as a head coach.
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— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 21, 2017
To open the season, the 49ers host the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10 in Week 1. The Panthers look to bounce back to contending form after missing a postseason bid in 2016.
This will be the the first look at the 2017 49ers who are in the midst of a full-on rebuild and will provide a good idea of what to expect scheme-wise from John Lynch and company in their first year.
After a brief road trip to Seattle in Week 2, the 49ers return home to host the Los Angeles Rams on Sept 21.
Last season, San Francisco picked up their only two wins against the Rams and will look to continue a streak of dominance that stretches back to 2011.
Over the past five seasons, the 49ers have accumulated an 8-3-1 record against the Rams. Coupled with the fact that Los Angeles is still having issues at quarterback after taking Jared Goff No. 1 overall in the 2016 NFL draft, means the 49ers have a legitimate chance of picking up their first win of the 2017 season in Week 3.
Week 6 will brings a few interesting storylines as the 49ers close a three-game road trip in the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins on Oct. 15.
Starting this offseason, the two franchises have made their fair share of national headlines as Washington’s quarterback, Kirk Cousins, has publicly voiced interest in joining the 49ers.
The refusal of cooperation from Redskins owner Dan Snyder — due to personal issues with the Shanahan family — has since halted talks of a potential trade. And as Cousins approaches a contract year, many expect this to be his last season as a Redskin, only to sign with San Francisco as a free agent in 2018.
The Redskins also made headlines when they fired their former general manager, Scot McCloughan, after reports of a drinking habit came out earlier in the year.
This, on top of many question marks surrounding head coach Jay Gruden’s future with the team, point to a level of dysfunction around the franchise.
All of these circumstances may open a door for the 49ers to pick up their second win of the season.
In only the second time hosting the New York Giants since the 2011 NFC Championship game, the 49ers will welcome Eli Manning and the gang at Levi’s Stadium for a Week 10 matchup on Nov. 12.
According to Footballdb.com, the Giants hold a 20-19 record against the 49ers dating back to 1952.
Considering that the Giants are dealing with an aging Manning, the 49ers might have an opportunity to capitalize on a team at the end of an era.
The only thing that could give the 49ers some trouble in this matchup is a fresh Brandon Marshall, who will be playing on his third team in as many years. The combination of a speedster in Odell Beckham Jr. and a vertical threat in Marshall has the potential to give a porous 49ers secondary fits.
The 49ers will be greeted by harsh winter conditions in Week 13 as they head to Chicago for the third year in a row to take on the Bears on Dec. 3.
In last year’s matchup at Soldier Field, the 49ers fell to Chicago, 26-6 in arguably San Francisco’s worst offensive showing of the season.
The good news for San Francisco is that they will face yet another team with quarterback issues, after the Bears cut Jay Cutler over the offseason. In addition to a slew of injury problems, Cutler was cut after appearing in only one playoff game in eight years.
Jacksonville will roll into town on Christmas Eve in Week 16 when the Jacksonville Jaguars will get their first look at Levi’s Stadium on Dec. 24.
In their first matchup since 2013, the 49ers will look to pick up another win against a historically subpar franchise.
As capitalizing on teams with quarterback issues looks to be a theme for this season, the Jaguars will give the 49ers a chance to pounce on just that in the second-to-last game of the season.
The 49ers close the season on the road in 2017 as they head south to take on the Los Angeles Rams.
This will be a good chance for Shanahan to close his first season on a high note and sweep the season series against the Rams for the second year in a row.