The San Francisco 49ers learned on Tuesday what their schedule for the 2012 season will look like and who they will go up against each week. After finishing 2011 with a 13-3 record and as champions of the NFC West, the 49ers face a much tougher schedule making the road back to the playoffs a bit harder than last season. There are plenty of story lines this season that will be the focus in the week leading up to the game (Example, see weeks 1, 2, 6 and 12). The 49ers may have a tougher schedule but that means the Niner naysayers cannot complain the team is not facing formidable opponents which was a big criticism last season. Also, unlike last season the 49ers will be featured in five primetime regular season games in 2012, three of which will be at Candlestick Park, including the home opener in week 2. The 49ers will play two games on Sunday Night Football, two games on Monday Night Football and one game on Thursday Night Football. Here is a breakdown of the week-by-week matchups for the 49ers with predictions on who will win.
Sunday, September 9, 1:15 PM
@ Green Bay Packers
Prediction: 49ers win
Usually the 49ers open up against the Seahawks, however, after their great season last year they will open up the 2012 season against one of their toughest opponents in recent years. The 49ers last had a season opener in Green Bay in 1976. The last regular season game won at Lambeau Field was in 1990, with Joe Montana at quarterback. This will be the second time Alex Smith will go up against Aaron Rodgers in the regular season, but it will be the first time the two will compete with both being established quarterbacks with credibility.
Jim Harbaugh will have the 49ers coming out of the gates swinging. Alex Smith would love to beat Rodgers in Green Bay and to start the season not only with a win, but also with a huge game that overshadows Rodgers’ stats.
Sunday, September 16, 5:20 PM (Home opener on Sunday Night Football)
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 2-0)
I wonder what the storyline will be in this game…Handshake Gate! No matter what happens to the 49ers and Lions in week one, both teams will come into the game fired up to pull out the win. We will probably see more TV shots of Harbaugh and Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. In week one the chip rested on Alex Smith’s shoulder, in week two the chip will be on Harbaugh’s shoulder. It will be a close game until the very end but the 49ers will pull out the win in their home opener. The 49ers have won 15 of the last 17 games against the Lions.
Sunday, September 23, 10:00 AM
@ Minnesota Vikings
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 3-0)
The 49ers will travel to Minnesota for the first time since 2009 when Brett Favre’s touchdown heave in the final seconds beat the 49ers 27-24. Thinking about that play again still makes me shake my head in disbelief. It will be tough to play on the road in the loud dome where the Vikings call home, but with Christian Ponder starting at quarterback the 49ers defense will cause havoc for the second-year QB.
Sunday, September 30, 10:00 AM
@ New York Jets
Prediction: 49ers lose (Record: 3-1)
The 49ers showed last season a team from the West Coast can travel to the East Coast and win games. It’s good for the 49ers to have that experience from last year because they will go up against the AFC East this season. The first of those matchups is against the Jets and the 49ers will suffer their first defeat of the season. This will be a defensive game throughout with a turnover winning the game in the end. I am going to be so mad if Tim Tebow has anything to do with the win.
Sunday, October 7, 1:15 PM
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 4-1)
The Bills are an up incoming team and have similar expectations like the 49ers had before the 2011 season. After spending two weeks on the road the 49ers will bounce back with a win at home against the Bills. The 49ers and Bills are tied 5-5 in all-time matchups.
Sunday, October 14, 1:15 PM
New York Giants
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 5-1)
We all know what the storyline will be in week six…the 49ers will be facing a team from the state of New York for the third week in a row. I think that’s everything, correct? Oh, riiiigggggggght. Something else about the NFC Championship game and Kyle Williams…
This is when the 49ers enact revenge over the Giants for their loss in the NFC Championship game. Candlestick Park will be rocking with a playoff game like atmosphere. Something tells both teams will meet again in the playoffs. The 49ers and Giants are tied 18-18 all-time.
Thursday, October 18, 5:20 PM (Thursday Night Football)
Prediction: 49ers lose (Record: 5-2)
The 49ers will have their second primetime game at home and first NFC West matchup against the Seahawks. The Seahawks always put up a good fight against the 49ers but this season they won’t get swept with a win at Candlestick Park. The game will be close but the four days in between weeks six and seven will hurt the 49ers.
Monday, October 29, 5:30 PM (Monday Night Football)
@ Arizona Cardinals
Prediction: 49ers lose (Record: 5-3)
The NFL Nation will see the 49ers play back-to-back weeks on primetime, but unfortunately for the 49ers they will suffer their first losing streak of the season. The Cardinals always play well against the 49ers in Arizona, especially on Monday Night Football. The 49ers lost to the Cardinals 21-19 in Arizona last season and you can expect the same result this season. Arizona guard Adam Snyder will face the 49ers for the first time.
The bye week could not come at a better time for the 49ers after suffering two defeats in primetime two weeks in a row. The bye week will help the 49ers regroup and heal up for the second half of the season. No matter their record come week nine, it is really important for the 49ers to have their bye week in the middle of the season.
Sunday, November 11, 1:15 PM
St. Louis Rams
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 6-3)
The start of the second half of 49ers’ 2012 schedule will be their first game against the Rams. New head coach Jeff Fisher will have the Rams competing this season, but it will not be enough to overcome the 49ers and win the NFC West. The 49ers are 62-61-2 all-time against the Rams.
Monday, November 19, 5:30 PM (Monday Night Football)
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 7-3)
The last time the 49ers and Bears met was in 2009 when Jay Cutler threw five interceptions in a 10-6 loss. You can expect more of the same with the 49ers defense pressuring Cutler all game making him have multiple turnovers. The 49ers will win big.
Sunday, November 25, 1:15 PM
@ New Orleans Saints
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 8-3)
The main storyline will be the rematch of the Divisional Playoff Round game from last season that saw the 49ers oust the Saints from the playoffs. A sub-storyline will be Bounty Gate. By this time the NFL will have moved on and forgotten about Bounty Gate. However with Greg Williams’ audio tape telling Saints players to target and hurt specific 49ers players, the scandal will be on everyone’s minds again. The game will have a playoff feel to it in New Orleans with the 49ers pulling out the win.
Sunday, December 2, 10:00 AM
@ St. Louis Rams
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 9-3)
The 49ers will sweep the Rams for the second straight season in their second matchup of 2012. The game will be much closer than week ten’s win with the 49ers winning in the closing seconds with a David Akers field goal.
Sunday, December 9, 1:05 PM
Prediction: 49ers win (Record:10-3)
The Dolphins might be starting their third quarterback of the season when they come to San Francisco for their first meeting since 2008. The Dolphins will see Alex Smith first hand and wonder why they did not pull the trigger to sign him in the off-season. 49ers will win big.
Sunday, December 16, 5:20 PM (Sunday Night Football)
@ New England Patriots
Prediction: 49ers lose (Record: 10-4)
With the NFC West division title locked up the 49ers will travel to the East Coast for the final time in the regular season and for the last of their five games in primetime. The 49ers will be playing for seeding in the playoffs with the division locked up but weather will play a factor in the game that does not favor San Francisco. The game will be more defensive than many expect with a low scoring game decided in overtime. The 49ers have not played in New England since 2005 and are 7-4 all-time vs. the Patriots.
Sunday, December 23, 1:15 PM
@ Seattle Seahawks
Prediction: 49ers win (Record: 11-4)
The Seahawks might be playing for one of the last playoff spots and with the loud crowd of the 12th Man, the 49ers will have to fight to avoid their second two-game losing streak of the season.
Sunday, December 30, 1:15 PM
Prediction: 49ers win (Final Record: 12-4, Second Seed in the NFC)
Closing out the season at home, the 49ers have a favorable matchup going up against the Cardinals. The 49ers will finish the season with a two-game winning streak which will help build momentum heading into the playoffs. In the last five games against the Cardinals at Candlestick Park, the 49ers are 4-1.