The 2014 NFL schedule was released last week, giving fans their first glimpse at the San Francisco 49ers' upcoming season. Opponents have been known for some time. However, the dates and times for those games were unknown.
We asked 49ers fans visiting 49erswebzone.com to vote for the 2014 regular season games that they were most looking forward to. Five games stood out above the rest. Here are the top 5 most anticipated 49ers regular season matchups of the 2014 NFL season -- as voted by the fans.
#5 -- Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers -- 4.02% of the votes
This matchup is drama filled since it features the return of former 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith. After leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game and then starting half of the next season before being injured, Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2013 offseason. The emergence of Colin Kaepernick, who replaced Smith, allowed the 49ers the luxury of getting some value for their former starter.
During the 2013 regular season, Smith passed for 3,313 yards, 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions for the Chiefs. Kaepernick passed for 3,197 yards, 21 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for the 49ers. Both quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs, but the Chiefs were eliminated during their first game while the 49ers made it back to the NFC Championship.
When Smith was traded, fans were a bit divided. Some felt that Smith had earned the right to remain the 49ers' quarterback after playing very solid football for Jim Harbaugh and that he was very unceremoniously let go. While Smith isn't the type of person to hype a revenge game, you have to believe that this is a game that he circled on his calendar when the schedule was released.
The Chiefs will travel to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California during week 5, which will take place on Sunday, October 5, 2014. During the 2013 season, the Chiefs finished the regular season 11-5, second in the AFC West, and lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the AFC playoffs.
#4 -- Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers -- 4.23% of the votes
This game is on the list for one very simple reason. It will be the first regular season game at the 49ers' new Santa Clara home, Levi's Stadium. The stadium broke ground in April of 2012 and the $1.3 billion project is expected to be state-of-the-art. The 49ers won their final game in dramatic fashion at Candlestick Park in San Francisco and hope to keep the winning going as the visiting Chicago Bears come into town.
For more information on Levi's Stadium, click here.
The Bears will travel to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California during week 2, which will take place on Sunday, September 14, 2014. During the 2013 season, the Bears finished the regular season 8-8, second in the NFC North.
#3 -- San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys -- 14.06% of the votes
The Dallas Cowboys were the 49ers' biggest rivals for almost two decades. Each would regularly win their division, making match ups between the two teams common. That rivalry has fizzled over the years. The 49ers went through a winning drought starting at the end of the 90's. The Cowboys have not made the playoffs since the 2009 season.
Dallas has won three straight against the 49ers and have never hosted their former rival at their new home in Arlington, Texas — AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys are not expected to be very good this season, but by ranking #3 in our poll, this rivalry obviously has not left the hearts and minds of 49ers fans.
The 49ers will travel to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas during week1, which will take place on Sunday, September 7, 2014. During the 2013 season, the Cowboys finished the regular season 8-8, second in the NFC East.
#2 -- San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks -- 16.63% of the votes
Words cannot describe the hatred that exists between these two teams and their fan bases. Drama ensued as recently as their last matchup in the NFC Championship when 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree and obnoxious Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman got into a rather one-sided war of words following the Seahawks' 23-17 victory. Some Seattle fans even threw food at the cart that carried 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman off the field following his devastating injury. Stories like this have helped catapult this into the best rivalry in football.
Being division rivals, this will be the second matchup between the two teams. The 49ers have not won a game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle since 2011. This late season matchup could be important for playoff positioning.
The 49ers will travel to CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington during week 15, which will take place on Sunday, December 14, 2014. During the 2013 season, the Seahawks finished the regular season 13-3, first in the NFC West, and went on to win Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos.
#1 -- Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers -- 52.01% of the votes
This one is not much of a shocker. The 49ers' first matchup against their hated rival tops the rankings — and it's not even close.
This game takes place on Thanksgiving night, and luckily, the game is at home for San Francisco. The 49ers have won five straight games at home against the Seahawks. Their last home loss to Seattle was in 2008.
What is interesting about the 49ers' schedule is that following this game, the 49ers will head to Oakland to play the Raiders and then travel to Seattle for their second matchup against the Seahawks. These games are just 17 days apart.
The Seahawks will travel to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California during week 13, which will take place on Thursday, November 27, 2014.