49ers schedule: Niners vs. Bengals will be a barn-burner and we can't wait

San Francisco 49ers Brandon Aiyuk (11)
San Francisco 49ers Brandon Aiyuk (11) / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The 2023 regular season meeting between the 49ers and Bengals will be an absolute barn-burner, and fans of both sides should be extremely excited.

The San Francisco 49ers enter the 2023 season with a strength of schedule ranked at No. 15. That strength of schedule is obviously calculated off of teams' combined 2022 records, but as it stands, they have a middle-of-the-pack schedule and have an easier road to the playoffs than the team that eliminated them last year, the Philadelphia Eagles, who have the most challenging strength of schedule.

Now, speaking of the Eagles, most fans of the Niners are very excited about the rematch of the 2023 NFC Championship Game, which will also be played at Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 3, 2023.

Now that game will be intriguing no doubt, but there is another game that might actually be more exciting.

That game is the one against the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 29, 2023 at home in Levi's Stadium.

Fans will remember the absolute delight of a game that the 49ers and Bengals blessed us with the last time they played in 2021. The 49ers jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the third quarter of that game, but then Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase hooked up for two touchdowns to send the game to overtime.

The Niners would concede a field goal but then on the ensuing drive, then-San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk would connect for a 12-yard walk-off touchdown. Tight end George Kittle would finish the game as the stat-sheet-stuffer with 13 receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown, too.

The 2023 rematch between the two teams will give us just as much excitement.

This time, though, the game will include one of the most explosive players in the league, the 49ers' dual-threat running back, Christian McCaffrey. Look for him to be a headache for the Cincinnati defense by being involved not only in the running game but also racking up the receiving yards.

There will also be two intriguing matchups for the two teams. The first is a matchup in the trenches, between 49ers left tackle Trent Williams and Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson.

The veteran, Williams, is a 10-time Pro Bowler and has been an All-Pro for the past two seasons. He might be one of the best players overall in the NFL right now regardless of position. He will get a chance to protect whoever might be under center for the 49ers in that game against the young Hendrickson, who is fresh off of his first two Pro Bowl seasons.

The other intriguing matchup will be in the secondary. That matchup will be between Chase and cornerback Charvarius Ward of San Francisco.

Chase is coming off two 1,000-yard and Pro Bowl seasons, his first two in the league. In his first meeting against the 49ers as a rookie, he was able to grab five receptions for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Read more: 49ers 2023 schedule is out, and we predict every game right here

Ward, however, was not a member of the 49ers at that time. 2022 was his first with the team, and he was excellent in both pass coverage and defending against the run. Although he wasn't selected for the Pro Bowl, he was there on the outside looking in. Ward was ranked as a top-10 cornerback by Pro Football Focus for the 2022 season.

So the matchup between Chase and Ward should be a great back-and-forth one throughout the game.

On the 49ers side, look for wide receivers Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel to have big days on the offensive side of the ball. On the defensive side of the ball, look for linebacker Fred Warner and 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa to make high-impact plays throughout.

While the meeting between these two teams in 2023 likely won't go into OT, it will absolutely be a barn-burner. In addition to the players mentioned above, looks for big games from a number of other players, should they take the field that day.

On the Bengals side look for quarterback Burrow and wide receiver Tee Higgins to also have big games.

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