No. 4: Week 1 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another must-win game for San Francisco comes right out of the gate: Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went a paltry 5-11 last year, fired head coach Dirk Koetter yet still managed to beat the 49ers 27-9 when these two teams met in 2018.
It’s anyone’s guess how new Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians will handle his duties in Tampa Bay early on. Yes, he has experience playing the 49ers. But his latest was back in 2017 with the Cardinals, and San Francisco’s 2019 squad looks tremendously different than Kyle Shanahan’s first year at the helm.
That said, Shanahan doesn’t exactly have the best record in September or on the road.
Over two seasons under Shanahan, the Niners are a combined 1-6 during the month of September. And during that stretch, Shanahan’s 49ers have a mere three road wins, including a 2017 Week 17 victory over the Los Angeles Rams’ B-team.
Shanahan can’t let that trend continue if San Francisco hopes to make the postseason this year.
If the 49ers want to be considered legitimate playoff contenders this season, they’ll need to prove they can both win early in the year and do so on the road.
Nothing like setting the tone right out of the gate in Week 1.