While the 49ers face some daunting challenges with their 2023 schedule, the slate of games is actually quite ideal compared to years prior.
Every year, it's commonplace for fans of their respective teams to complain about the NFL schedule makers and point out just how said teams got screwed in some way or another. Whether it's a too-early bye week or a cross-country road game on Thursday night after playing at home the previous Sunday, it's not hard to find complaints about a schedule once it goes live.
The San Francisco 49ers haven't been immune to this, of course. There have been plenty of instances of them "getting screwed."
However, with the 2023 schedule now out and in the public view, it doesn't appear as if the Niners got screwed much.
If at all.
Sure, there's one quirk, and it involves San Francisco playing a lot of teams coming off bye weeks this season. And the 49ers are going to be traveling a lot, the second most out of all teams in the NFL, even though that's common for West Coast teams anyway.
Yet that's made up for some other awfully good benefits.
Let's check out why the 49ers schedule for 2023 is actually quite, well... good.
49ers have a midseason bye in Week 9
Remember back in 2019 when the Niners' bye week was in Week 4? While San Francisco made it to the Super Bowl that season, having that early bye wasn't preferable.
Most teams prefer either a midseason bye or later, and that's precisely what the 49ers got. Theirs will be in Week 9, nestled in between a home game versus the Cincinnati Bengals and a road bout all the way out in Florida against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
49ers have 2 Thursday Night Football games, but they're spread out
A new rule by the NFL this season allows for teams to play not just one obligatory Thursday Night Football game but potentially two, necessary after the desire to flex out bad teams from playing primetime games.
Unfortunately, the Niners got two of these Thursday night games, but they're spread out well enough over the course of the season.
The first is a home matchup against the New York Giants in Week 3, and the only travel San Francisco had to do prior to that game was catching a puddle jumper from Southern California and a Week 2 bout versus the Los Angeles Rams.
Then, on Thanksgiving Day, the 49ers travel to take on the Seattle Seahawks for Thursday Night Football in a grudge match for what happened the last time these two teams played each other on turkey day.
While two Thursday night games isn't ideal, they're spread out on the schedule and on the same coast with little travel.
49ers schedule has no more than 2 road games in a row
It's rare to see teams with three-game road trips, but they do happen. Case in point, the Giants have to be on the road for seven of their first 10 games of the season.
While the Niners have historically enjoyed away games early in the season, partially to help mitigate Sunday day games in the September heat at Levi's Stadium, they won't have any three-game road trip to open up the year.
And as far as back-to-back road games back east, one that might mandate San Francisco staying away in between games, only road matchups at the Cleveland Browns and at the Minnesota Vikings in Weeks 6 and 7, respectively, would prompt that.
Tough part of 49ers schedule is in the middle
We can take a look at our good friend from Niners Nation, and a Niner Noise alumnus, Nicholas McGee's breakdown of the 49ers schedule and where the challenging parts are:
Aside from a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Week 9 bye, Weeks 5 through 10 are potentially tough, and so are Weeks 12 through 14.
However, this is beneficial for a number of reasons.
For starters, head coach Kyle Shanahan's offenses have historically started slow, and it's usually not until Week 4 or 5 when things begin "firing on all cylinders." A weaker opening to the schedule, despite that Thursday night game against the Giants, is beneficial for Shanahan and Co. in order to ramp up to that tough stretch.
Additionally, if the Niners struggle during that hard stretch and (gulp) find themselves below the .500 mark after Week 14, three of four very winnable games to close out the year could easily boost playoff contention...dom.
If that's a word (it is now).