49ers

49ers schedule 2019: Biggest games, narratives to watch in NFL season

jimmygreal.jpg
USATSI

49ers schedule 2019: Biggest games, narratives to watch in NFL season

Everything the 49ers do from this day forward is with opening day -- Sept. 8 – in mind.

The draft, the offseason program, training camp and a four-game exhibition schedule are all geared toward getting the 49ers prepared for Week 1 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the meantime, the 49ers will have the ability to add a starter, or two or three, in next week’s NFL draft.

One of their NFC West opponents undoubtedly will be shaped by their decision next week. Will the 49ers again face quarterback Josh Rosen, who twice beat them last season, or will the Cardinals tab Kyler Murray to inject some excitement and intrigue into their organization? The 49ers play Arizona in Weeks 9 and 11.

Here are some of the other takeaways from the 49ers’ 2019 schedule, which the NFL released Wednesday.

Biggest must-watch game

Every eight years when the Browns visited the 49ers, it was seen as a good opportunity to spend the day doing something together outside as a family. The mere throught of a 49ers-Browns game could induce sleep.

Few organizations over the past couple of decades have been less compelling than the Cleveland football franchise.

But not this year.

Even though Cleveland has a no-name as a head coach, the Browns could be one of the compelling teams to watch in the NFL this season because of QB Baker Mayfield and a much-improved supporting cast, including star receiver Odell Beckham. The 49ers wanted Beckham, but the Browns landed him in a trade with the New York Giants.

The Browns will visit Levi’s Stadium for the first time this season, and -- believe it or not -- it could be a hot ticket. The NFL placed the 49ers-Browns game in prime time with an Oct. 7 matchup on Monday Night Football.

Where the schedule makers hosed them

The 49ers open the season with back-to-back road games for the first time since 1997. It might be an opportunity for the 49ers to remain on the road – say, Youngstown, Ohio – between games at Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.

This will likely be a decision for Ben Peterson, the 49ers’ newly created head of player health and performance. If he determines it is better for the players’ bodies to avoid the back-and-forth trips, the 49ers will practice during the week in Ohio.

The game against Tampa Bay is also a 4:25 p.m. start in the Eastern time zone, giving them three hours less of recovery time.

The 49ers have four road games scheduled for 10 a.m. (PT) kickoffs – at Cincinnati (Week 2), Washington (Week 7), Baltimore (Week 13) and New Orleans (Week 14). The back-to-back road games in December against the Ravens and Saints also makes for a tough stretch at that point in the season.

Additionally, the 49ers face the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium on Nov. 24. New coach Matt LaFleur will have extra time to prepare for the 49ers, as the Packers’ bye week is in Week 11.

Where the schedule makers helped them

The 49ers have a five-game stretch from Week 8 through Week 12 when the only time they will be on a plane will be for the two-hour trip to Arizona and back.

San Francisco hosts the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 27, followed by a quick-turnaround for a Thursday night game at Arizona on Halloween. Then, it’s a longer week and more preparation time to face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 11 for Monday Night Football.

The 49ers face Arizona again in Week 11 on Nov. 17, and remain home for the Week 12 game against the Packers.

What the primetime schedule tells us

Every team in the league is guaranteed one primetime slot with a Thursday night game. The 49ers’ Thursday game is Week 9 at Arizona. They have two other games under the lights, facing the Browns and Seahawks in Monday night home games.

The 49ers have another possible primetime game, as the day for their Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Rams will be determined at a later date. The game is slated for either on a Saturday or Sunday.

That shows the 49ers have not fallen completely off the NFL landscape, but the NFL is being more cautious than a year ago.

After riding the momentum of Jimmy Garoppolo and a five-game win streak into last year’s offseason, the 49ers were tabbed for five games in prime time. By the mid-point of the season, the NFL was sent scrambling.

The 49ers were bounced out of their two scheduled Sunday night games – Week 7 against the L.A. Rams and Week 13 at the Seattle Seahawks.

Bye week significance

The bye week comes early for the 49ers, long before most teams generally would want a break in their season.

After opening on the road for the first two games and the home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, the 49ers will get the week off in Week 4.

Then, the 49ers have a long week when they return from the bye week to face the Browns on Monday Night Football. The 49ers finish the regular season with games in 13 consecutive weeks.

[RELATED: 49ers' Buckner says it's still early for extension talk]

Revenge narratives

After the incident at the team hotel in Tampa, the 49ers did not need to know all the details about what occurred. All they had to know was linebacker Reuben Foster put himself in a precarious situation with his decision to meet a visitor, and he ended up in jail for the night.

Foster was quickly claimed by Washington. He spent the final five games of last season on the commissioner’s exempt list. But, now, he’s been cleared to play football, minus two game checks. The 49ers ultimately would like to see Foster succeed, but not in Week 7 on Oct. 20, when the club travels to Washington.

Foster certainly will be motivated to make the kind of impact against the 49ers that the club had envisioned him doing for them.

Also, newly signed 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander faces his former team, Tampa Bay, in Week 1. He is coming back from a torn ACL and hopes to be available to play. Former 49ers punter Bradley Pinion also is now with the Bucs.

New 49ers running back Tevin Coleman faces his old club, Atlanta, in Week 15 at Levi’s Stadium.

Watch Kyle Shanahan's postgame speech after 49ers' win vs. Washington

Watch Kyle Shanahan's postgame speech after 49ers' win vs. Washington

Kyle Shanahan was quite pleased with his team's effort in San Francisco's 9-0 win over Washington on Sunday.

"We talked about making it our house, man," the 49ers coach said during his postgame speech in the locker room. "That was our house!"

It wasn't pretty, and how could it have been, given the unrelenting downpour and the mud that covered FedEx Field. But a win is a win, and Shanahan was happy to see his players get one last dip in the dirt after achieving victory.

"There was no cooler thing to me than watching 53 guys go sliding, doing angels across the field," he said of San Francisco's Slip-N-Slide procession.

The hard-fought win stood in contrast to previous successes, such as the 49ers' 24-point victory in Cincinnati in Week 2. Shanahan wanted his team to derive confidence from that knowledge, while also not losing sight of the ultimate goal.

"Guys we're just getting started, alright," Shanahan said in closing. "We can win a game in any way. We had seven starters out today. We bonded together, we'll get some back, but it doesn't matter. 

"This room, we've got something special. Let's keep this s--t going."

[RELATED: Panthers to start Allen at QB, not Cam, vs. 49ers in Week 8]

Next up for San Francisco is a home game against Carolina in Week 8. Safe to say, there won't be as much mud in that one.

Why Kyle Shanahan believes 49ers' answers at wide receiver are on team

Why Kyle Shanahan believes 49ers' answers at wide receiver are on team

Eight days before the NFL trade deadline, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that he does not feel as much urgency to add a veteran receiver in the middle of the season than in his previous two. 

“I think less (urgency) than we’ve had in the last couple of years because I do see that there are guys in our building that I do think the answers are here,” Shanahan told reporters Monday in Santa Clara, amid reports that the 49ers are in the market to add a wide receiver.

The 49ers played Sunday without rookie receiver Deebo Samuel, who injured his groin a week earlier against the Los Angeles Rams. Marquise Goodwin played just seven snaps before leaving with an injury Sunday. He was evaluated for a concussion but was cleared. Goodwin is not in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Shanahan said.

San Francisco also hopes to get Trent Taylor and rookie Jalen Hurd back later in the season. Both players are on injured reserve. They are eligible to return after sitting out eight games from the time they went on IR.

“It was tough not having Deebo last week and Marquise being a little bit banged up, we’ll get both of those two back,” Shanahan said. “The guys we have I still think can continue to get better. We’re still holding out hopes, too, for Jalen and Trent Taylor that they can heal up and hopefully return later this year.

“We’re always looking to improve, but I do like the guys we have here.”

[RELATED: 49ers, Raiders stand pat in power rankings following Week 7]

Tight end George Kittle is the 49ers' top pass-catcher with 34 receptions for 376 yards and one touchdown. Samuel leads the wideouts in receptions with 15 catches for 168 yards, while Goodwin has 11 catches for 181 yards. Samuel and Goodwin have one TD apiece. Kendrick Bourne had his best game of the season on Sunday with three catches for 69 yards in the 49ers' 9-0 victory over Washington.

Dante Pettis, a second-round pick in 2018, has not produced up to expectations. He has nine catches for 83 yards and one touchdown.