Loaded with primetime games, SF 49ers face tough road in 2020

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo prepares to throw in Super Bowl LIV as Garoppolo will lead the 49ers in the 2020 season that is if the NFL gets the nod to open up the season. (si.com file photo)

By Joe Hawkes
SRS Contributor

While its still unknown if the sports landscape will return amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL continues to operate as normal, officially releasing its 2020 regular-season schedule for all 32 teams Thursday.

Time to mark your calendars 49ers fans. (Hopefully).

See full schedule here: https://www.49ers.com/schedule/

After losing in heartbreaking fashion to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami back in February after holding a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the San Francisco 49ers’ road back to the Super Bowl will be a daunting one.

San Francisco will tussle with both the NFC and AFC East squads on top of their NFC West opponents in 2020.

The reigning NFC Champions will have six games against 2019 playoff teams, including the Seattle Seahawks (twice), New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots. San Francisco has the fourth-toughest schedule in 2020, with their upcoming opponents were a collective 134-120-2 (.527 winning percentage) in 2019.

Expectations are sky-high for San Francisco heading into the season after a 13-win campaign last year.

All eyes will be glued on 49ers starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in 2020 to see if he can follow up an impressive 2019 season. In his first full year as a starter, Garoppolo shined as the top signal-caller for San Francisco, throwing for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

With rumors swirling that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were contemplating signing Tom Brady, San Francisco decided that they’re all in with the 28-year-old Garoppolo for the long haul.

For the first time since 2017, the 49ers will open up the season at Levi’s®Stadium with the Arizona Cardinals rolling into town. In the opener, San Francisco will get an up close and personal look at the Cardinals’ biggest offseason acquisition in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Arizona acquired the dynamic playmaker from the Houston Texans, in exchange for running back David Johnson with each team picking up multiple draft picks too.

This year marks the first time since 2016 that the 49ers will kickoff the season against a divisional opponent.

San Francisco will be prominently featured in primetime, playing four of the five games at Levi’s®Stadium:

  • Week 4 against Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday Night Football)
    • The 49ers last faced the Eagles in 2017, in which San Francisco were throttled 33-10 in Philadelphia.
  • Week 6 against Los Angeles Rams (Sunday Night Football)
    • San Francisco and Rams meet for the second-straight year on Sunday Night Football. The 49ers won both meetings last year, including their last-minute victory in Week 16 that saw San Francisco convert back-to-back 3rd-and-16 completions from Garoppolo to engineer the win.
  • Week 9 against Green Bay Packers (Thursday Night Football)
    • Green Bay will make their third-straight trip to Levi’s®Stadium within a calendar year. The Packers and 49ers met twice last year, in Week 12, and again in the NFC Championship game, with the 49ers winning 37-20 and locking up their first Super Bowl appearance since 2013.
  • Week 13 against Buffalo Bills (Monday Night Football)
    • The Buffalo Bills, who have high expectations of their own heading into the 2020 season, will make their first-ever trip to Levi’s®Stadium. The Bills made a splash in the offseason, trading a bevy of picks to the Minnesota Vikings for electric wide receiver Stefon Diggs to help third-year quarterback Josh Allen’s development as a passer.
  • Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)
    • Talk about two organizations that aren’t strangers to one another. Both organizations have won five Super Bowls and feel that this is the year that they both can win their sixth. With this matchup late in the year, this could be a potential playoff preview or at the least, a playoff spot will be up for grabs.

San Francisco has three separate stands of back-to-back road matchups, starting with Weeks 2 and 3.

The 49ers are set to face the New York Jets then New York Giants at Met Life Stadium in consecutive weeks, marking just the second time in team history that San Francisco is taking on the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks (Weeks 13-14 of 1986) and the first time doing so on the road in back-to-back weeks.

Last year, the 49ers stayed on the east coast in between road games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 1) and the Cincinnati Bengals (Week 2), and the Baltimore Ravens (Week 13), and the New Orleans Saints (Week 14).

In Week 7, San Francisco will head to the Northeast to take on the New England Patriots in Jimmy Garoppolo’s return to Foxborough. The following week, San Francisco will travel to the Pacific Northwest for their first matchup against NFC West rival, the Seattle Seahawks.

Unlike last season’s Week 4, this year the 49ers’ bye comes in Week 11, which could be vital for San Francisco who could be fighting for playoff positioning. This marks the third time in four seasons that San Francisco have had their Bye in Week 11.

Following the Bye, the 49ers will evenly split their final six contests between home and road trips and a final meeting against each of their division rivals.

For the second-straight year, the 49ers and Seahawks face each other in the season finale. Week 17 could prove to have playoff implications again, similar to 2019 where the 49ers clinched the NFC West in Seattle thanks to then-rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw’s goal line stop on Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister that perserved a 26-21 victory.

The 49ers will open and close the regular-season at home for the first time since 2016.

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