The 49ers schedule for 2022 comes out today, and Niner Noise explores the five toughest opposing defenses they’ll face this season.
In some ways, it’s weird to get overly excited about the San Francisco 49ers schedule for the upcoming season. After all, we already know which teams they’ll play this season. We just aren’t sure exactly when.
At least not for a few more hours.
The 2022 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 12 starting at 8 p.m. ET, so perhaps the big reason why it’s so exciting is we can finally plan our calendars for fall and early winter, getting ready to purchase those home tickets at Levi’s Stadium or even plan that road trip against one of the teams on the 49ers schedule involving some travel.
There’ll be no shortage of NFL schedule-related content in the next few days, but let’s narrow the topic a bit and focus on some of the tougher defenses San Francisco will face this season.
Of note, the Niners are tied for the league’s fifth-toughest schedule in 2022 based on last year’s win-loss percentages, coming in at .533. The 49ers’ NFC West division rivals and Super Bowl Champions, the Los Angeles Rams, own the toughest at .567.
While there’s no perfect way to quantify it, here’s our list of the top five opposing defenses on the 49ers schedule this season.
49ers schedule 2022: Toughest defense No. 5, Denver Broncos
No other conference in the league stockpiled arms more than the AFC West this year, and the Denver Broncos were in the thick of it by adding former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a massive blockbuster, then purging a number of former Niners in nose tackle D.J. Jones and cornerback K’Waun Williams.
The NFL Draft addition of EDGE Nik Bonitto should reinforce the depth behind presumed starting pass-rushers, Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. And while Gregory hasn’t exactly accumulated the sack totals over his career, boasting just 16.5 over 50 career games, it’ll benefit him not having to be the guy.
San Francisco already knows both Jones and Williams’ strengths and weaknesses, but look for Denver to make notable strides in the secondary with second-year cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who could make a massive leap from his promising rookie year.
Sure, the head-coaching change from Vic Fangio to Nathaniel Hackett creates some uncertainty, even for a Broncos defense that ranked third best in scoring a year ago (322 points allowed) despite not being able to move the ball on offense.
Yet if Denver gets more complementary play from Wilson and Co., its defense should be even more potent, making a much tougher road game for the 49ers.