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A Week-by-Week Analysis of the 49ers’ 2024 Opponents

May 15, 2024 at 7:15 PM

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The NFL just announced its entire 2024 regular season schedule. Here is a week-by-week preview of the San Francisco 49ers opponents and how those teams revamped in the off-season.

All times Pacific

Week 1—New York Jets

Monday, September 9 ABC/ESPN 5:20 PM

The Jets have a playoff-caliber defense. The addition of edge rusher Haason Reddick offsets the loss of sack master Bryce Huff. A healthy Aaron Rogers should keep the Jets' offense on the field longer and give the team a legitimate shot at postseason play.

Rodgers is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. However, he has not fared well against San Francisco. During his time in Green Bay, he was 6-7 all-time against the Niners, including 0-4 in the playoffs.

The Jets finished last season in the bottom four in both pass block and run block win rate. So, they've invested heavily in a revamped offensive line by adding three linemen in free agency and selecting Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu in the draft's first round.

Week 2—at Minnesota Vikings

Sunday, September 15 CBS 10:00 AM

The J.J. McCarthy era has begun in Minnesota. Or former Niner Sam Darnold will keep the quarterback position warm while McCarthy develops. Either way, it's welcome news for the Faithful who saw Kirk Cousins torch San Francisco for 378 passing yards in a 22-17 Niners loss in Week 7 last year.

The Vikings took two steps backward, losing free agents Cousins and edge rusher Danielle Hunter.
The offense still has plenty of weapons in wide receivers Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and tight end T.J. Hockenson. The question is, who will be behind center directing that offense?

Week 3—at Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, September 22 FOX 1:25 PM

The division rival Rams split their head-to-head matchup with the Niners last year. Los Angeles is an ascending team, having won seven of its final eight regular-season games last season and narrowly losing to the Lions 24-23 in the playoffs. LA's offense is diverse and challenging to defend. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua are among the league's best. However, the loss of retired, All-World defensive tackle Aaron Donald is likely devastating.

Week 4—New England Patriots

Sunday, September 29 FOX 1:05 PM

The Patriots feature one of the league's best defenses, holding its last eight opponents to a 32.4 percent third-down success rate. Edge rusher Matthew Judon posted a career-high 15.5 sacks.

The punchless New England offense is another matter; it needs more playmakers. Quarterback Mac Jones was jettisoned. Patriots fans hope the third overall pick, Drake Maye, will wrestle the starting quarterback position away from journeyman signal-caller Jacoby Brissett.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Week 5—Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, October 6 FOX 1:05 PM

No longer can you circle the calendar and guarantee a win against the Cardinals. The team added more depth and sacks to the defensive line in free agency and drafted highly touted EDGE players Darius Robinson and Xavier Thomas, both of whom can play inside and out. Rookie wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. is an elite and generational talent and should contribute immediately, along with cornerback Max Melton.

Week 6—at Seattle Seahawks

Thursday, October 10 Prime Video 5:15 PM

The Niners won both head-to-head matchups with Seattle last year, gaining a combined 342 yards on the ground. Seattle's run defense was its Achilles heel, as it allowed more rushing yards than any team over the past two years.

This off-season, the Seahawks fortified their interior run defense by signing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins in free agency, adding Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II through the draft, and resigning defensive lineman Leonard Williams, a late-season pickup from the Giants. Seattle considered Murphy the best defender in this year's draft.

Week 7—Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, October 20 FOX 1:25 PM

The Chiefs visit Levi's Stadium for the much-anticipated reprisal of February's Super Bowl, a barnburner Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs won 25-22 in overtime. Mahomes is seeking his third consecutive Super Bowl win. Brock Purdy is pursuing his first.

Defensive tackle Chris Jones returns to the Chiefs, along with a solid overall defense, but they dealt talented cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to Tennessee in a cost-cutting move.

The Super Bowl Champions added wide receivers Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in free agency and Xavier Worthy in the draft. Worthy is the fastest player in Combine history. Second-year wideout Rashee Rice is in trouble with the law and will likely get suspended for a portion of the season.

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Week 8—Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, October 27 NBC 5:20 PM

The NFC East Champion Cowboys return to Levi's to renew their spirited rivalry. Last year, Dallas featured a vaunted passing attack, winning 12 games, but struggled against teams with winning records. The Dallas defense ranked among the league leaders in interceptions and sacks. Cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland are ballhawks. However, the defense is vulnerable to the run.

Running back Tony Pollard left in free agency. Although the Boys re-signed Ezekiel Elliott in free agency, they need more depth at running back.

Week 9—Bye

Week 10—at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday, November 10 FOX 10:00 AM

Tampa Bay surprised many with nine wins and a playoff victory behind the spirited play of quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Bucs won in free agency by retaining their own: Mayfield, wide receiver Mike Evans, linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Antoine Winfield, Jr., and kicker Chase McLaughlin.

The team strengthened its interior offensive line with the selection of center Graham Barton in the draft. Tampa had a league-worst 59.6 percent run block win rate at center last season. Pass rusher extraordinaire Shaq Barrett left via free agency.

Week 11—Seattle Seahawks

Sunday, November 17 FOX 1:05 PM

The Seahawks finished the year 9-8 and missed the postseason for the second time in three years. After a 14-year stint, Pete Carroll is out as head coach, replaced by Mike Macdonald, formerly the Ravens defensive coordinator.

There is still plenty of firepower on the offensive side of the ball: Most notably, Geno Smith at quarterback, Kenneth Walker III toting the rock, and Tyler Lockett and the tenacious and explosive D.K. Metcalf at wide receiver.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 12—at Packers

Sunday, November 24 FOX 1:25 PM

The Niners travel to Lambeau to face Jordan Love and the ascending Green Bay Packers. The league's youngest team, the Packers, hung 48 points on the Cowboys in a wild-card stunner. Love, a first-year starter last year, showed he's the real deal, producing 41 touchdowns and throwing for more than 4,100 yards.

The Packers' stable of young receivers—Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, and Christian Watson—is frighteningly good. With an already talented pass defense, Green Bay upgraded their secondary, adding former Giants safety Xavier McKinney and first-round pick Javon Bullard, who can play at nickel or safety.

Week 13—at Buffalo Bills

Sunday, December 1 NBC 5:20 PM

The Niners travel to Orchard Park to take on the AFC East Champs. Quarterback Josh Allen is a perennial MVP candidate and is a significant threat both running and passing. However, Allen will be noticeably shorthanded this year, losing his top two receivers. The departed Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis accounted for a combined 15 touchdowns and nearly 1,900 receiving yards.

The Bills don't have proven backups and are counting on instant production from wideout Keon Coleman, a second-round selection from Florida State.

Week 14—Chicago Bears

Sunday, December 8 FOX 1:25 PM

The Bears may have vaulted themselves into playoff contention by adding the draft's number one overall pick, USC quarterback Caleb Williams.

Williams is strong-armed and accurate and has plenty of targets to throw to, including DJ Moore and newly acquired Keenan Allen, who combined for more than 2,500 receiving yards last year. The Bears also added the fast and explosive Rome Odunze, one of the draft's best receivers.

Additionally, the Bears boast the league's best run defense.

Week 15—Los Angeles Rams

Thursday, December 12 Prime Video 5:15 PM

A good running attack last year was improved with the free-agent signings of guards Kevin Dotson and Jonah Jackson. Kyren Williams carried the ball last year for 1,144 yards, and he is now joined by stand-out running back Blake Corum from the national champion Michigan Wolverines.

The Rams bolstered their secondary with the signings of free-agent corners Tre' Davious White and Darious Williams. Los Angeles also added edge rusher Jared Verse and defensive tackle Braden Fiske in the draft. Yet, those talented rookies can't possibly offset the retirement of Aaron Donald, regarded by many as the league's best defender.

Week 16—at the Miami Dolphins

Sunday, December 22 CBS 1:25 PM

The Niners take their talents to Miami to face off against the league's top-ranked offense. Last season, the Dolphins put up 70 points in a Week 3 beatdown of the Denver Broncos. Miami returns speedsters Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle on the outside and home run threats Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane out of the backfield. Hill and Waddle combined for 17 touchdowns and more than 2,800 receiving yards last year.

Miami's defense added edge rusher Shaq Barrett. However, the unit was weakened by the loss of stellar defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17—Detroit Lions

Monday, December 30 ABC/ESPN 5:20 PM

A rematch of the NFC title game in which the Niners overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to beat the Lions 34-31 in a nail-biter and advance to the Super Bowl.

During the regular season, Detroit's defense was the second stingiest against the run, but a porous 27th against the pass. So, the Lions selected cornerbacks Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw, Jr. with their first two draft picks. The improved secondary should complement Detroit's high-octane offense.

Week 18—at Arizona Cardinals

Date and time to be determined

The Arizona defense desperately needs playmakers. However, the offense should be able to move the ball, especially with the addition of wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. Quarterback Kyler Murray is a dynamic talent that stresses defenses with his passing and escapability, and James Conner is a bruising one-thousand-yard rusher.
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