Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Face Unusually Important Opening Game

Anwar Jamison
Sep 8, 2016 at 1:27 PM


Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
Can a week one game be a "must-win" game for an NFL team? By definition, of course not. For the 49ers, however, it just may be the case. For the second year in a row, the 49ers face the worst possible scenario for their first two games of the season.

They open up against the Los Angeles Rams in the second game of the traditional Monday Night Football double-header. That game doesn't kick off until 7:20 pm in Santa Clara, and 10:20 on the east coast, which is where the 49ers will travel to face the defending NFC Champions, the Carolina Panthers, in week 2. This means that in any time zone you choose to use, the 49ers players will not make it to their beds until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Why is that problematic? The Carolina Panthers begin their season in the opening game on Thursday night, which means they will have ten days rest prior to playing the 49ers. By the time the Niners' players hit the sheets to rest following their opening game, the Panthers' players will have had a head start of three full nights of rest, and one abbreviated night following their game and travel home from Denver. That makes a difference. This is the same scenario that the 49ers faced last year after opening up late on Monday night, and then facing the Pittsburgh Steelers who opened up on the previous Thursday night.

There are tons of stats to back up the fact that teams on normal rest tend to play well against teams on short rest. This is not even that. This is the rare case where a team with abnormally-long extended rest plays a team on short rest. The effect is magnified in those cases.

After the Carolina game, the 49ers travel to Seattle for a week 3 matchup with the Seahawks, which brings its own obvious set of challenges.

Only 12 percent of NFL teams that begin 0-2 go on to make the playoffs. A measly 2.8 % of teams who go 0-3 eventually make the playoffs. What about 1-2 teams? They actually make it a respectable 23.3 % of the time.

While most observers think a playoff berth for the 49ers is unrealistic, don't tell that to the players, and nothing sucks the life out of a fan base more than being eliminated from playoff contention in the first quarter of the season.

The very possibility that the playoffs are mathematically possible is the engine that propels many friends and relatives to weekend gatherings around flat screen TV's to cheer their teams on week after week. Take that possibility away immediately and the months of October through February can become excruciatingly disheartening to a diehard football fan.

With that being said, the 49ers open their season at home against an opponent that they have had a lot of success against recently. The 49ers have won 4 of the last 6 games vs. the Rams, including the final game of the 2015 season. The Rams have question marks of their own, and will start former undrafted free agent quarterback Case Keenum while their quarterback of the future, Jared Goff, watches from the sideline in street clothes. It's a very winnable game for the 49ers.

Last season, optimism flowed through the Niners' fan base after they jumped out of the gates with an impressive 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. It wasn't until the next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a 43-18 thrashing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, when everything came crashing down. Even after the 47-7 blowout the following week against the Cardinals, having a "1" in the win column was enough to sustain the thought that it was possible for the team to play better.

The 49ers need to put that "1" in the win column on Monday night against the Rams. With statistically the toughest schedule of any team in the NFL this year, they need to put something in the bank to feel good about early, or risk not feeling good at all this season.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Edd
    Playoffs? Bwa ha ha. That Kool aidS pretty strong, son.
    Sep 8, 2016 at 7:28 PM
    0
  • Stewart
    I agree 100%. Had the NFL just flipped the games in weeks 2 and 3 it would have been more equitable.
    Sep 8, 2016 at 4:48 PM
    1


More San Francisco 49ers News



Reporter eager to see 'savage revenge tour' from 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk

By David Bonilla
Jul 5

Chase Senior of Chat Sports recently joined "The Krueg Show" with Larry Krueger to discuss the San Francisco 49ers and the potential impact of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in the team's 2024 championship push. Aiyuk is seeking a contract extension that would make him one of the...



The Pros and Cons of Reducing 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey's Workload in 2024

By Nate Bodnar
Jul 5

The San Francisco 49ers have a dual-threat running back at their disposal with Christian McCaffrey. The dynamic star has an ability to single-handedly change a game, consistently demonstrating this ability week after week last season. The 28-year-old former first-round draft...



3 Potential 'Trap Games' for the 49ers in 2024

By Nate Bodnar
Jul 6

Once the NFL schedule gets released, fans, analysts, and even the players within the organization look at the games and make predictions. With each prediction held, there are games that fans become increasingly nervous about - a matchup that the team is supposed to win but ends...



Five 49ers' starters who may be entering their final season in SF

By Marc Adams
Jul 6

The San Francisco 49ers have 41 players scheduled to be free agents in March of 2025. Three are restricted free agents (RFA), meaning they could stay with the team. Running back Jordan Mason, for example, is one. According to NFL.com, "RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with...


Latest

More by Anwar Jamison

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone