49ers to face historically tough stretch in Packers, Ravens and Saints

49ers to face historically tough stretch in Packers, Ravens and Saints

The 49ers did what they had to do. Now comes the hard part.

When San Francisco's 2019 season schedule was revealed, it was readily apparent that it was particularly backloaded. If the 49ers were going to give themselves a chance to contend for a playoff spot, they would have to take advantage of the string of easier opponents in the first half.

They did just that. The 49ers won their first eight games of the season, and if not for an overtime loss to the Seahawks in Week 10, they might still be undefeated heading into a home matchup with the Packers in Week 12.

It's a good thing, too, because Green Bay is right behind San Francisco in second place in the NFC and is one of four teams in the conference with just one fewer win than the Niners. Even if they manage to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday, the path forward doesn't get any easier.

In Weeks 13 and 14, San Francisco will head out on the road for consecutive games in Baltimore and New Orleans. Just like the Packers, the Ravens and Saints currently sit at 8-2 on the season and are on the shortlist of realistic Super Bowl contenders. 

Assuming neither the Ravens nor Saints lose or tie before facing San Francisco, that would establish the 49ers' next three games as the toughest three-game stretch this late in a season in NFL history. As ESPN's Nick Wagoner noted Tuesday, no team has ever played three consecutive games against opponents with winning percentages of .800-or-greater this late in the season in the Super Bowl era.

Now, if either Baltimore or New Orleans loses or ties before facing San Francisco, you can throw that winning percentage stat out the window. Regardless, though, they're going to be very tough games for the 49ers, particularly on the road.

[RELATED: Rice predicts the 49ers will beat Packers, Ravens, Saints]

After that brutal stretch, San Francisco will close out the regular season with back-to-back home games against the Falcons and Rams, followed by a road game in Seattle. Given Atlanta's recent resurgence, there don't appear to be any pushovers remaining on the 49ers' schedule.

They did what they had to do, but for the 49ers, now comes the hard part.

Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks


Ravens' John Harbaugh reacts to 49ers' Tim Ryan's Lamar Jackson remarks

49ers broadcaster Tim Ryan was suspended for one game after comments made about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson following Sunday’s loss.

“He’s really good at that fake, Lamar Jackson, but when you consider his dark skin color with the dark football with a dark uniform, you could not see the thing,” Ryan said on the show (H/T The San Francisco Chronicle).

The comments created a social media firestorm, but Ravens head coach John Harbaugh isn’t interested in furthering the controversy.

“I don’t really know too much about it or understand the context of it. It’s not relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish right now,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.

[RELATED: 49ers' Harris to start at strong safety for injured Tartt]

Former 49ers defensive end Dennis Brown will replace Ryan on Sunday’s broadcast in New Orleans.

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

49ers injury report: Marcell Harris to start in place of Jaquiski Tartt

BRADENTON, Fla. – Marcell Harris on Sunday will be back where he ended his rookie season with the 49ers.

Harris will take over as the 49ers’ starter at strong safety with Jaquiski Tartt out for at least one game after sustaining cracked ribs in the team’s 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.

Tartt and backup defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) have been ruled out for the 49ers’ game Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Two of the 49ers’ seldom-used wide receivers, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis, are listed as questionable, along with left tackle Joe Staley. Goodwin has knee and foot issues, according to the team, while Pettis has already missed one game with a knee injury.

Staley has missed three games after surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated finger. He is expected to play Sunday.

All other 49ers players, including Dee Ford and Richard Sherman, will be available for Sunday’s game.

Harris started the final five games of his rookie season after being a sixth-round draft pick from Florida in 2018. He did not earn a spot on the team’s 53-man roster at the beginning of this season. Harris was promoted from the practice squad in October and has appeared in nine games this season.

“I’m real happy for Marcell,” coach Kyle Shanahan said on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Saturday at 7 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “He’s gone come a long way, in that he was a very good college player, tore his Achilles his senior year, which really hurt him. That’s why we were able to get him in the draft. It affected him his whole rookie year.

"He’s been able to string together about eight months where he has been healthy, and when you’re made of the right stuff, you have the talent and you can stay healthy, you usually just need the time.”

Harris took over for Tartt on Sunday and made one of the top plays in the game when he took the ball away from Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on a running play to create a turnover.

[RELATED: Sanders has been valuable resource for 49ers' young WRs]

49ers injury report

S Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)

WR Marquise Goodwin (knee, foot)
WR Dante Pettis (knee)
T Joe Staley (finger)