The San Francisco 49ers have the fourth toughest schedule in the NFL this season, befitting of a team that has been to three consecutive NFC Championship games. With the schedule just released last week, here’s a look at the five biggest games for the Niners this season.
1) 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks, November 27, 2014, Week 13: No hype needed. The coaches, players and fans seemingly hate each other, and that’s no gobble gobble turkey from jive turkey gobblers. Arguably the two best teams in the conference will square off on Thanksgiving at Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers have won five in a row at home against Seattle and are highly motivated after a disappointing loss in last season’s NFC title game. Add in the Sherman/Crabtree factor plus rumors that NaVarro Bowman may return in time to take on the team he was injured against should make for one hell of a game. Oh yeah, the two teams square off two weeks later at CenturyLink Field, and, maybe, again in late January.
2) 49ers at Denver Broncos, October 19, 2014, Week 7: Colin Kaepernick’s final pass of the 2013-14 season fell just short of putting the red and gold in the big game against Denver, but they get their shot this season at Sports Authority field at Mile High. The Broncos got even stronger this offseason, signing DeMarcus Ware and Aqib Talib to strengthen a defense that surrendered 43 points in the Super Bowl. The game also features new Broncos wideout Emmanuel Sanders, who spurned the Niners by not attending a scheduled visit with them this offseason and backing out of a supposedly done deal with Kansas City, a move that put him and his agent under much scrutiny in their contract negotiating tactics. Get ready, this could be a potential Super Bowl preview.
3) 49ers at New Orleans Saints, November 9, 2014, Week 10: For the third straight season, the 49ers will invade the Superdome to take on Drew Brees and company. I, like many, were baffled as to why the Niners had to travel to the Big Easy again, but 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco breaks it down nicely here. Regardless of scheduling quirks, the game is a potential playoff preview and a rubber match of the two previous regular season matchups between the two NFC juggernauts, with San Francisco winning in 2012 New Orleans in 2013. Much like last year’s game, this figures to be a hard-fought, one possession game.
4) 49ers vs. Chicago Bears, September 14, 2014, Week 2: The opening game at Levi’s Stadium should be a fantastic Sunday night. The first of a new era in our new home, the game is also Kaepernick’s second tangle with the team he made his debut against. While Aldon Smith dominated as he set a Monday Night Football record for sacks with 5.5, most remember it for being the game that gave Kap his starting spot. He was outstanding that night, going 16-23 for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns as the 49ers steamrolled Da Bears, 32-7. The Faithful would love to see him duplicate the feat, and given the Niners recent track record against Chicago in prime time, we could be looking at another blowout and a terrific way to open our new building.
5) 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs, October 5, 2014, Week 5: Although the Chiefs are expected to take a step back this season, the return of Alex Smith to San Francisco is an intriguing storyline. Smith had a very impressive 2013 campaign, leading a lowly Kansas City team that only won 2 games the year before to the playoffs. Despite a first round exit, Smith proved he could be more than just a game manager. He should receive a nice ovation from the crowd, but a rude awakening on the field as Kansas City has a depleted offensive line. While the 49ers should get the win, seeing Alex is enough to make this game watchable.
Although not listed, the Niners should be challenged this season by an emerging Arizona Cardinals team. With Bruce Arians at the helm, and the free agent signings of Ted Ginn and Jonathan Dwyer, as well as Antonio Cromartie to bolster an already strong defense, Arizona could be a Wild Card team. Both games, in Glendale (Week 3) and San Francisco (Week 17), should be dogfights, with the latter potentially having playoff implications.
What games are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments and keep it locked to 49ers360.com as we prepare you for the NFL Draft.
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