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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Having solved the Cardinals for 2009, the 49ers command our attention following release of their schedule. Can you find more than eight victories for San Francisco without wearing the 49ers Starter jacket your family has owned since 1984?
My initial look at the schedule shows 7-9 or 8-8, depending largely on how the quarterback situation evolves. I'll break the schedule into sections for the sake of analysis.
I'm seeing a potential 3-2 record heading into the bye week. Everything changes if the 49ers pull an upset at Arizona. I don't see the Cardinals overlooking a division opponent at home to enter the season. Looking at Week 2, we know the Seahawks have won their last two games at Candlestick, even when they were struggling last season. That second game of the 49ers' season, against Seattle, stands out as a pivotal one for San Francisco, in my view.
The season appears to get tougher in the first five games following the bye. Am I unreasonable to see a potential 1-4 record for the 49ers during those games? Let's say they win one of the home games, against either Tennessee or Chicago. I'm thinking the 49ers will have a hard time winning road games against the Colts and Packers. Even the Texans have been relatively tough at home.
The hard-nosed mentality Mike Singletary is trying to instill could serve the 49ers well during the closing stretch to their schedule. I've got them winning four of their final six in getting to 8-8, avoiding a losing record for the first time since 2002. It's not a given, though.
The longer I look at those final six games, the more I could see 3-3 instead of 4-2. Let's figure they win two of the three home games during that stretch (Jaguars, Cardinals, Lions). Let's say they win at St. Louis. The 49ers would then need to win at Seattle or Philadelphia to reach 4-2 over the final six.
San Francisco 49ers Regular Season Schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, ATLANTA FALCONS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, TENNESSEE TITANS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 12, CHICAGO BEARS, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, at Seattle Seahawks, 4:15 p.m.
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 14, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, at Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, DETROIT LIONS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m.