The 49ers enter the 2020 NFL season as reigning NFC champions. With their new schedule in hand, they will work to become the first team to repeat in the conference in six years.
San Francisco went 13-3 last season, ending the streak of four losing seasons in (almost) the biggest way possible and falling just short of winning Super Bowl 54. That’s a tough mark to duplicate for even the mightiest team, but based on San Francisco’s illustrious history, it can be done.
The 49ers need to shake off any thoughts of a Super Bowl hangover. Two recent NFC winners, the Eagles and Falcons, were able to return to the playoffs. Two others, the Rams and the Panthers, were not.
So is there an elite encore in store for the 49ers? Or will San Francisco give way to a new power in the NFC?
Here is a complete breakdown of the 49ers’ 2020 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 16 games.
49ers schedule 2020
- Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
- Away: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets
(The 49ers’ schedule will be released Thursday at 8 p.m. ET along with the entire 2020 NFL schedule.)
(For Canadian viewers, each game can be streamed on DAZN.)
The 49ers’ first-place battles make for great rematches with the Packers at home and the Saints on the road. With the Bills and Eagles also coming to San Francisco and the 49ers going to Dallas and New England, there’s an abundance of marquee matchups for late afternoon and prime-time viewing windows.
The NFC West battles were epic for the 49ers last year, and there should be more thrills in store against the Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals in what has become more of an offensive-minded division. There’s no lack of action with plenty of must-see games on a national level.
49ers strength of schedule
The loaded schedule would suggest the 49ers have it tough, and they do. Their 2020 opponents combined to go 134-120-2 last season. That .528 winning percentage makes it the fourth most difficult schedule, trailing only three AFC East teams they will play in the Patriots, Jets and Dolphins.
Counting the Seahawks twice, seven of the 49ers’ 16 games are against returning playoff teams. Although that’s the case, a few more of their opponents got weaker. In that sense, San Francisco’s schedule is more middle of the pack.
Toughest tests: Start with the Seahawks twice. Kyle Shanahan’s team knows it will get the best from Pete Carroll’s team in two games that tend to come down to the wire.
The hardest road game by far is the one against the Saints, who will be out for revenge after losing the shootout last season. Then there’s the game in Dallas against an offense built for a high-scoring duel.
San Francisco’s trickiest non-Seattle home foe will be Buffalo, the new favorite in the AFC East. Philadelphia is a close second because of its recent Super Bowl pedigree.
Biggest breaks: The Rams have lost plenty, so they should balance out the Seahawks games in the division. The 49ers handled the Packers twice at home last season, so they should be just fine with that first-place scheduling.
Things don’t much get better for the 49ers at home than games against Dolphins and Redskins. On the road outside of the division, the two New York trips to face the Giants and the Jets don’t come with the usual cross-country worries. The Patriots also won’t be as intimidating at home without Tom Brady to duel his former backup.
Bottom line: The 49ers went 13-3 last season because they had the No. 2 total defense and No. 4 total offense. Garoppolo should be better with rookie Brandon Aiyuk replacing Emmanuel Sanders. The defense can recover with rookie Javon Kinlaw replacing DeForest Buckner. Trent Williams was a quick replacement for Joe Staley at left tackle, too.
That means there still are no real positional weaknesses for the reigning NFC champs. Their youth gives them continued upside, and they still have their savvy defensive leader, Richard Sherman, for one more season.