Since the San Francisco 49ers' 2013 schedule was released back in April, fans have been gearing up for the team's final season at Candlestick Park. Recently, we asked 49ers fans to vote for the 2013 regular season 49ers games that they were most looking forward to. Five games stood out above the rest. Together, these five games added up to over 94% of the total votes. Here are the top 5 most anticipated 49ers regular season matchups of the 2013 NFL season -- as voted by the fans on 49erswebzone.com.
#5 - San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins - 2.05% of the votes
The Washington Redskins are the only team on this list that did not face the 49ers during the 2012 season. Last season, rookie Robert Griffin III took over as the Redskins' quarterback and went on to shock and entertain fans as he helped guide the team into the playoffs. It was only an injury that slowed him down. Griffin excels in the read-option and is just as dynamic a playmaker as the quarterback in San Francisco. That is what could make this game so exciting.
Redskins fans feel that, with a solid nucleus of Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Santana Moss and Ryan Kerrigan, this rebuilt Redskins team may be close to becoming a consistent contender from year-to-year. A win over the visiting defending NFC champions would prove that.
The 49ers will travel to FedExField in Landover, Maryland during week 12, which will take place on Monday, November 25, 2013. During the 2012 season, the Redskins finished the regular season 10-6, first in the NFC East, and lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the NFC playoffs.
#4 - Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers - 5.61% of the votes
Two teams on this list have something in common. Their 2012 seasons and Super Bowl hopes came to an end at the hand of the 49ers. That is the case for our 4th more anticipated game of 2013. Last season, the Atlanta Falcons were the top seed in the NFC and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. They opened up the playoffs with an exciting win over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. The following week, they hosted the 49ers at the Georgia Dome and jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the game. The 49ers, would battle back, take the lead with 3:23 seconds remaining in the game, and then stop Matt Ryan and the Falcons from executing a game-winning drive for the second time in a week. The 49ers would go on to the Super Bowl and the Falcons stayed at home.
Once again, the Falcons look to be one of the top teams in the NFL this season. With this rematch being so late in the season, it could have huge playoff implications for both teams and may even be a playoff preview. The 49ers will likely be in a race against Seattle for the NFC West crown, so a loss to Atlanta has the potential to be devastating.
Unless the 49ers win the NFC West, this will also be the 49ers' final regular season game at Candlestick Park.
The Falcons will travel to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California during week 16, which will take place on Monday, December 23, 2013. During the 2012 season, the Falcons finished the regular season 13-3, first in the NFC South, before losing to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
#3 - Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers - 13% of the votes
For years, this rivalry was somewhat one-sided given the fact that the Green Bay Packers never had any issues beating the 49ers. That all changed last season when the 49ers beat the Packers 30-22 in the season opener at Lambeau Field. It was the 49ers' first victory over the Packers since January 3, 1999 and it was their first victory in Green Bay since 1990.
When the Packers learned that they would have to travel to San Francisco during the Divisional round of the playoffs for a rematch, they were fairly confident that they would come out on top this second time around. Last time, they faced Alex Smith at quarterback. This time, they would face a youngster in Colin Kaepernick. That confidence grew as Packers cornerback Sam Shields quickly picked off Kaepernick and returned the interception for a touchdown, giving his team an early lead.
After that, it was all San Francisco as the 49ers completely humiliated the Packers defense. The defense looked confused and could not figure out how to defend the 49ers' use of the read-option. The 49ers would go on to win 45-31 -- and it wasn't even that close.
The Packers spent some time during the offseason studying the read-option and ways to defend against it. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers spent a full day with Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who game-planned against Kaepernick in college at Hawaii. The entire defensive coaching staff traveled to Texas to meet with Texas A&M's staff to analyze film and even had the Aggies defensive coordinator Mark Snyder watch and analyze the Packers 2012 playoff loss in San Francisco.
This week, Clay Mathews has said that the Packers are now ready for the 49ers and even said that his defense will take their shots against Kaepernick, which, while very much within the rules, upset 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Packers will travel to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California during week 1, which will take place on Sunday, September 8, 2013. During the 2012 season, the Packers finished the regular season 11-5, first in the NFC North before losing to the 49ers in the second round of the NFC playoffs.
#2 - Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers - 20.04% of the votes
There is no doubt that the 49ers' biggest rival and the team most likely to compete with them in the race for the NFC West is the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are likely to be one of the best teams in the NFL. Some would argue that they are THE best team in the NFL and a very solid Super Bowl contender. Seattle is loaded at nearly every position and are focused on a trip to MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII in February. Nothing would make them happier than running over the 49ers on their way to New Jersey.
This will be the second matchup of the season between these two division rivals. The last time these two teams met in San Francisco, it was an exciting defensive battle with the 49ers coming out on top by the score of 13-6. The game was such a defensive struggle that the first touchdown was not scored until 6:20 left in the third quarter. Running back Frank Gore put up 131 yards against the Seahawks defense and was a huge factor in the 49ers' win.
The Seahawks will travel to Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California during week 14, which will take place on Sunday, December 8, 2013. During the 2012 season, the Seahawks finished the regular season 11-5, second in the NFC West, and came within a Matt Bryant field goal of a trip to the NFC Championship game. They lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the NFC playoffs.
#1 - San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks - 53.61% of the votes
During the two teams' second meeting of the 2012 season in Seattle, the Seahawks absolutely dismantled and bullied the 49ers. San Francisco had just come off of a huge road win in New England against the Patriots and the outcome was a 29 point loss that briefly threatened the 49ers' playoff positioning. CenturyLink Field in Seattle is already a very tough environment for a visiting team, much less a division rival. It was a loud and confusing night for the 49ers.
It is no secret that this is becoming one of the league's most fascinating rivalries and with the young talent on each team, it could remain that way for years to come. There is no love between these fanbases. It is easy for 49ers fans to dislike Pete Carroll and their arrogant, loud-mouthed cornerback Richard Sherman. Seattle fans feel the same way about Jim Harbaugh, especially after he added fuel to the fire by taking a jab at the team's PED suspensions during the offseason.
Both teams have young, athletic and exciting quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson and both fanbases feel that their signal caller is better than the other.
During this matchup, both teams will be without one of their best offensive playmakers. San Francisco will be without wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Seattle will be without wide receiver Percy Harvin, their big offseason free agency signing.
Even though it will be early in the season, the 49ers can accomplish a lot with a big road win in Seattle. They could possibly take an early lead in the division against the Seahawks and prove that they can still dish out big road wins, just as they were able to do so last season. This is a great early test for the 49ers and a chance to prove that they are still the class in the NFC.
The 49ers will travel to CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington during week 2, which will take place on Sunday, September 15, 2013.