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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers schedule analysis

By Mike Sando

Breakdown: The 49ers open the Jim Harbaugh era with home games against Seattle and Dallas. The team then plays three of its next four on the road, however, and there are truly some brutal stretches for San Francisco. The one home game during that stretch falls against a Tampa Bay team that shut out the 49ers at Candlestick Park last season. Later, the 49ers visit Baltimore for a Thanksgiving game on NFL Network. They play at home against Pittsburgh on "Monday Night Football" in Week 15. Teams welcome playing in prime time, but those are a couple of tough matchups. More on that below.

Complaint department: Where to begin? The 49ers play a Monday night game at home against the Steelers followed by a Saturday game against the Seahawks at Qwest Field. That's a tough turnaround, but there is more. The 49ers play a Sunday game at home against division-rival Arizona on Dec. 11, followed by a Thanksgiving game across the country in Baltimore -- a highly anticipated matchup pitting 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh against his brother, John. That's just brutal. On top of it all, the league again saddled the 49ers with more 10 a.m. PT kickoffs than any West Coast team should have to face. Five of the six potential early starts will indeed kick off in the 10 a.m. PT hour, matching the total for Seattle. That's 27 early kickoffs in 28 chances since 2007. Good luck, Jim.

Hitting the road late: The 49ers close the season with three NFC West road games in four weeks. Their only home game during that stretch is the prime-time matchup with Pittsburgh. This reminds me of the four-game stretch San Francisco endured to open last season. The team played three of its first four on the road, with the only home game against Super Bowl champion New Orleans.

49ers Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 11, Seattle, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 18, Dallas, 4:05 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 25, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 2, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9, Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16, at Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30, Cleveland, 4:15 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 6, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 13, NY Giants, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20, Arizona, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 24, at Baltimore, 8:20 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4, St. Louis, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11, at Arizona, 4:05 PM
Week 15: Monday, Dec. 19, Pittsburgh, 8:30 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24, at Seattle, 4:15 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM