49ers schedule: Early win/loss predictions for 2021 season
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 at Lions, 1 p.m. ET
The 49ers start off the 2021 campaign on the road, traveling to Detriot to take on the rebuilding Lions. Detriot is starting a new era, having traded former quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for draft picks and now-Lions quarterback Jared Goff.
Goff has faced this Niners team twice for his entire career and it so happens that his first season away from Los Angeles has him up against the Niners again.
Don’t expect his transition to be an easy one, as the Lions should be improved after a solid 2021 NFL Draft, but still look to be the weakest team in the NFC North. Goff’s record against the 49ers is just 3-7 during his Rams tenure, a number that will difficult to improve upon given the supporting cast he’ll have in Detroit.
It’s pretty clear the Rams thought Goff couldn’t overcome his situation, even with a play-caller as sophisticated as Sean McVay, so don’t expect Anthony Lynn, the Lions’ new offensive coordinator, to be able to overcome the quarterbacks’ deficiencies.
The teams last met in 2018 when the Niners beat the Lions in Santa Clara 30-27 in a game the Lions mounted a late comeback that ended up falling just short.
All that said, this seems like a game a more established team like the 49ers should win without much of an issue.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 at Eagles, 1 p.m. ET
The Jalen Hurts era has officially begun in Philadelphia, with former Eagles quarterback now in Indianapolis hoping to right the ship of his career with his old offensive coordinator, Colts head coach Frank Reich.
And while the Eagles made some efforts to improve the quality of offensive skill players for Hurts to work with by drafting Alabama wideout and Heisman Trophy winner Davonta Smith in the first round and adding to their offensive line with Smith’s Tide teammate Landon Dickerson in the second, the team is still in the middle of a massive rebuilding process.
That means two teams in as many weeks that the 49ers will face who will be breaking in a new coach staff and isn’t the strongest in terms of offensive skill positions.
This is the second year in a row that the Niners will play the Eagles, losing last season to Philadelphia at Levi’s Stadium 25-20 on Sunday Night Football.
There could be some concern over the back-to-back 10 a.m. PT starts for San Francisco, but expect the team to hole up in Youngstown, OH, or West Virginia as they have during similar runs over the past few seasons, which should help alleviate some of that jetlag.
But the biggest thing will be that the 49ers roster is simply more talented than the Eagles are at this juncture, meaning the Niners should get themselves off to a 2-0 start on the young season.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 26 vs Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET
There’s a bevy of turmoil swirling around Green Bay at the moment, with star quarterback Aaron Rodgers saying he has no plans to return to the team. This makes predicting this game quite complicated, at least at this stage in the process.
If Rodgers makes good on his threat and the Packers are forced to trade him or he retires, the Packers are undoubtedly headed for a mediocre season with either a rookie quarterback in Jordan Love or whoever they get in return for a massive Rodgers trade.
If Rodgers stays in Green Bay, then this should be another quality matchup, as these teams have seen a lot of each other in the last few years.
The teams have played each other every year since 2018, including twice during the 2019 season, the second of which was a 49ers’ win in the NFC Championship game.
The Packers won last season’s matchup in Santa Clara 34-17 on Thursday Night Football, but have lost six of the last nine games against the 49ers dating back to 2012.
For now, we have to assume that Rodgers isn’t coming back and any other quarterback will be a downgrade at the position. If that’s the case, the 49ers are more than capable of winning their home opener, hopefully in front of a full Levi’s Stadium.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, vs Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. ET
The 49ers get the first crack at a division foe in Week 4 when the Seattle Seahawks travel to Santa Clara for the Niners’ second straight home game of 2021.
Seattle, as always, is a difficult team to figure out, as they seem to have not really improved during the offseason, but still feature Russell Wilson at quarterback, making them a tough opponent for San Francisco’s defense to figure out.
Still, it is within reason the Seahawks could end up being the “worst” team in this division as the Rams have solidified their quarterback room and the Cardinals continue to improve beyond their quarterback, Kyler Murray.
In spite of Wilson, Seattle may not be as competitive as they have been in recent years.
This early in the season it’s hard to call any game “must win,” but when it’s a game within one of the league’s best divisions, they all carry a little bit more weight.
Look for the Niners to take the home contest in this matchup and continue their winning ways to start the campaign.