Matt Maiocco

49ers 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

49ers 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

The 49ers released their full 2018 schedule on Thursday evening. Here's the slate:

WEEK 1
Sunday, Sept. 9, at Minnesota, 10 a.m. (FOX)
There was a time when we thought the Vikings’ quarterback would be suiting up for the road team in this matchup. But, thanks to Bill Belichick’s generosity, Jimmy Garoppolo will be wearing the road whites while Kirk Cousins and his talented supporting cast will be decked out in purple. Garoppolo’s undefeated run as a starting quarterback is put to the test in the opening week. And San Francisco newcomer Jerick McKinnon gets an early chance to prove to his former team that he should have been an every-down running back. Prediction: L.

WEEK 2
Sunday, Sept. 16, vs. Detroit, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
First-year Lions head coach Matt Patricia – and the pencil behind his ear – travel to the Bay Area for the organization’s first visit to Levi’s Stadium. Prediction: W.

WEEK 3
Sunday, Sept. 23, at Kansas City, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Alex Smith’s five-year run as Kansas City’s starting quarterback came to an end. Arrowhead Stadium is now Patrick Mahomes’ home, and it remains a difficult environment for road teams. Prediction: L.

WEEK 4
Sunday, Sept. 30, at L.A. Chargers, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Fans of the 49ers travel well. The challenge is on to snap up as many of the 27,000 tickets in the Charges’ temporary home venue as possible. The 49ers will need a lot of help against a talented team that finished last season with a lot of momentum. Prediction: L.

WEEK 5
Sunday, Oct. 7, vs. Arizona, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Cardinals have undergone a facelift with the retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer. The new crew of coach Steve Wilks and Sam Bradford – or whoever ends up at QB – inherits a six-game head-to-head win streak against the 49ers. Prediction: W.

WEEK 6
Monday, Oct. 15, at Green Bay, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Aaron Rodgers did not get any say in Packers personnel matters this offseason, and we’re hearing the NFL schedule-maker did not consult him, either. But he certainly will not complain about this prime-time matchup against the team for which he rooted as a child growing up in Chico. Prediction: L.

WEEK 7
Sunday, Oct. 21, vs. L.A. Rams, 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
This could be a pivotal mid-season matchup featuring two franchises that took different approaches during the offseason. The 49ers were measured in free agency, while the Rams played fantasy football. L.A. general manager Les Snead went all-in during the offseason with the additions of cornerback Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, along with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Brandin Cooks. Prediction: L.

WEEK 8
Sunday, Oct. 28, at Arizona, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
After back-to-back three-point losses in the desert the past couple of seasons, the 49ers will need to take care of business against the Cardinals to be serious contenders for a playoff spot. Prediction: W.

WEEK 9
Thursday, Nov. 1, vs. Oakland, 5:20 p.m. (FOX/NFLN)
Levi’s Stadium was built as a two-team facility, just in case the Raiders were interested in moving to the South Bay. In the building’s fifth year, the Vegas-bound Silver and Black finally get a look inside. Facing the 49ers during a short week is ideal for the Raiders, as Jon Gruden and Co. do not have to step on a plane. Kyle Shanahan will match wits against the man who gave him his first NFL job. Shanahan was Gruden’s offensive quality control coach in 2004-’05 with Tampa Bay. Prediction: W.

WEEK 10
Monday, Nov. 12, vs. N.Y. Giants, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
The 49ers have a short week, followed by a long week. A year ago, the Giants’ trip to Levi’s Stadium resulted in the end of the losing streak of 49ers’ franchise-worst start. C.J. Beathard was under center that day, and Marquise Goodwin provided one of the highlights of the season with an 83-yard touchdown catch just hours after he and his wife lost their baby boy due to complications from pregnancy. Prediction: W.

WEEK 11
Bye week

WEEK 12
Sunday, Nov. 25, at Tampa Bay, 10 a.m. (FOX)
The 49ers will have to go light on the tryptophan from their Thanksgiving feasts to be ready for the cross-country travel and their matchup against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. The 49ers will be making just their second trip to Tampa of the past 14 seasons. Prediction: W.

WEEK 13
Sunday, Dec. 2, at Seattle, 5:20 p.m. (NBC)
Is there any doubt Richard Sherman will be a little bit hyped to go back to Seattle with something to prove to Pete Carroll and John Schneider? The “12s” will find out what it’s like when Sherman is not on their team. It’s a different Seattle team, but Russell Wilson is as elusive as ever. Prediction: L.

WEEK 14
Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Denver, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
These teams are skipping their annual exhibition game in lieu of the regular-season matchup. The Broncos’ last meaningful visit to Levi’s Stadium turned out pretty well – a victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Prediction: W.

WEEK 15
Sunday, Dec. 16, vs. Seattle, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
It’s not a rivalry until the 49ers prove they can actually beat the Seahawks, who hold a nine-game head-to-head win streak. (It could be 10 at this point.) The Seahawks’ dominance began in the NFC Championship game in January 2014, when Sherman broke up Colin Kaepernick’s pass and Malcolm Smith got the interception. Now, both Sherman and Smith are wearing the other uniform. Prediction: W.

WEEK 16
Sunday, Dec. 23, vs. Chicago, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
These teams should know each other pretty well. It will be the fifth consecutive season in which the 49ers have played against the NFC North team. The teams have split the previous four meetings, as the 49ers evened the score last season with a 15-14 victory in Garoppolo’s first start with the 49ers. There is no threat of a snow storm or freezing rain in this locale. Prediction: W.

WEEK 17
Sunday, Dec. 30, at L.A. Rams, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
The 49ers have not lost to the Rams in Southern California since 1986. The stakes could be higher this season than we’ve seen in a long, long time as the 49ers could offer the defending NFC West champs their stiffest competition. This could be a huge game – or it could be like a year ago when the Rams rested every significant starter to get ready for the playoffs. Prediction: L.

Stanford's Meeks dreams of learning from 49ers' Sherman

meeksquentonap.jpg
AP

Stanford's Meeks dreams of learning from 49ers' Sherman

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers are likely to select a cornerback within the first three rounds of next week’s NFL Draft.

Stanford’s Quenton Meeks would like nothing more than to be chosen, so he can continue to learn from one of his mentors.

“Richard Sherman is a Hall of Famer, and we have similar body types.” Meeks said. “All of our combine numbers – it’s kind of scary – it’s almost identical in all of them.”

Meeks (6-foot-2, 205) has the size the 49ers want from a cornerback in this scheme. At the combine in 2011, Sherman, who also attended Stanford, measured 6-3, 195. Meeks ran the three-cone drill at 6.72, compared to Sherman’s 6.82. Meeks’ 20-yard shuttle was 4.23, while Sherman’s was 4.33.

“He even told me I remind him of himself, so that was the biggest compliment I’ve gotten,” Meeks said Wednesday at the 49ers' local pro day at Levi's Stadium. "I look up to him so much, and I try to model my game after him. He’s so smart. He’s always a step ahead.”

Meeks said he expects to selected in the second or third round, and the 49ers are among the teams that have shown the most interest during the pre-draft process.

“That would be a dream come true, honestly – just to learn from the best,” Meeks said of Sherman. “I think he’s still the best corner in the game right now. It takes someone who really knows how to study corners to see what he does really well. He always disrupts the receivers. The amount of times he gets thrown at during a game is very little, because if you throw at him, there’s a big chance it’s going to get intercepted.”

Meeks said he spoke with Sherman during the season to get some tips before a game against Arizona State. He wanted some advice on going up against 6-4 wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

Harry, who caught 82 passes for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns on the season, was held to just three receptions for 40 yards against Stanford. None of the receptions came when Meeks was in coverage against him, he said.

"He really helped me," Meeks said. "I asked him, in particular, one game I was playing this bigger receiver, so I asked him for some tips. He gave some tips, and I locked down that game and didn't allow a single catch."

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

Five NFL Draft options for 49ers at No. 9

The 49ers always knew there was a chance they would be without Reuben Foster for at least a portion of the 2018 season.

But, now, after the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office last week filed two felony domestic violence charges and one felony charge of possession of an assault weapon, the 49ers must prepare as if they will never see him on the football field again.

The 49ers signed veteran inside linebackers Brock Coyle and Korey Toomer during free agency. And there figure to be plenty of options as the 49ers look to fortify the middle of their defense in next week’s draft, too.

There could be two enticing possibilities at linebacker in front of the 49ers when their turn comes up in the first round with the No. 9 overall pick. Here are five legitimate options for the 49ers if they remain in their original draft slot:

1. LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
There might not be a player in the draft with more upside than Edmunds, who is big (6-5, 253), exceptionally athletic and will not turn 20 until the week after the draft.

Any team that Edmunds him will have the opportunity to mold him into their system at whichever of the many positions he has the skills to play. He can line up at any of the linebacker spots, and he also has untapped potential as a pass-rusher.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh could have a lot of fun with the options of how to deploy Edmunds in the 49ers’ scheme.

2. LB Roquan Smith, Georgia
The advantage Edmunds has over Smith is his size. Smith is a bit on the small side (6-1, 236). But that’s about the only knock on him.

In addition to his unique athleticism (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds at the NFL scouting combine), Smith also is a leader with great instincts and football smarts. While he probably could step in and play middle linebacker, he is likely a better fit for the weakside position.

3. DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The 49ers like Jimmie Ward because of his ability to play all five positions in the secondary. Fitzpatrick is much the same way -- but only bigger, better and, seemingly, more durable.

Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are entering the final seasons of their contracts, so the addition of Fitzpatrick would make sense. He can step and in immediately compete with K’Waun Williams at nickel back or linebacker in the 49ers' sub packages. He play either of the 49ers’ safety positions. In a pinch, he might also be able to play cornerback. Fitzpatrick would be an outstanding asset within the 49ers’ three-deep zone due to his ability to make game-changing plays.

4. DE Harold Landry, Boston College
The more time the 49ers spent on Landry, the more they were sure to like him. He had his breakout season as a junior, recording 16.5 sacks. But his return for his senior season did not turn out as planned.

Teams were left scratching their heads about how his production fell off so dramatically. But a lot of his decline can be traced to an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness. Landry recorded five sacks in eight games.

His stock rose with an exceptional workout at the combine. His size (6-3, 252) is not a huge concern for the 49ers, who would play him at their pass-rush end position. He has all the other attributes of an elite edge rusher with his eye-popping 20- and 60-yard shuttles and three-cone drill.

5. DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Do the 49ers really need another tall defensive lineman? They selected Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years, then drafted another defensive lineman, Solomon Thomas, with the No. 3 overall pick last year.

Davenport, however, is different. He is a legitimate pass-rush threat. And that’s an element the 49ers need to add to their defense. Davenport (6-6, 264) was a stand-up rusher in college. He got away with simply being the biggest and best at his level in college.

The star potential is there. He could be a home run. But there is probably a lower downside than with many of the other players the 49ers will consider with the No. 9 overall pick.