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



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 views 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

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Ambry Thomas eager to face big-play receivers, help 49ers on special teams

By David Bonilla
May 6, 2021

Ambry Thomas can't wait. He can't wait to find out what the NFL has to throw at him. The former Michigan cornerback did not play in 2020 and is itching to get back onto the football field. Last week, the San Francisco 49ers made Thomas a third-round draft pick. He was the first defender selected by the team in this year's draft. Ambry appeared in 12 games as a junior in 2019, recording 38 tackles, three tackles for a loss, three interceptions, and three passes defensed. He joined 95.7 The Game on Thursday morning to share what he brings to the 49ers defense and how he labels his style of play. "I'm a straight man corner, honestly," Thomas said on the Morning Roast. "... I'm going to get in your face, and I'm going to challenge you at the line of



49ers rookie safety Talanoa Hufanga on 49ers legacies, learning from Troy Polamalu

By Kirk Larrabee
May 12, 2021

The connections to some of the all-time great safeties are strong for 49ers rookie Talanoa Hufanga as he begins his NFL career. Hufanga, who was selected by the 49ers in Round 5 of the 2021 NFL Draft after a standout career as a safety at USC, is currently at 49ers facilities with other members of his draft class as he prepares for rookie minicamp this weekend (Friday-Saturday). He spoke to reporters on Wednesday about his relationship to three legendary safeties in particular in Troy Polamalu, 49ers legend Ronnie Lott, and 49ers general manager John Lynch. Hufanga first spoke about Polamalu, with whom he has a well-documented relationship after the



John Lynch thinks even Jed York believed the 49ers were drafting Mac Jones

By David Bonilla
May 3, 2021

When general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan approached Jed York about the possibility of trading up to the No. 3 overall pick, the San Francisco 49ers CEO made it clear that he trusted his team's top decision-makers and encouraged them to do whatever they felt was best for the organization. They had one more ask, though. Lynch and Shanahan also wanted to hold onto Garoppolo, who will earn a base salary of $24.1 million this year. That is a lot of money to commit to a player they were looking to replace. However, it does set the team up for immediate success. "And he backed it 100 percent because he wants to win,"



49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt announces jersey number change

By David Bonilla
May 3, 2021

A new year, a new number for Jaquiski Tartt. The safety re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March and announced today that he is switching his jersey number from No. 29 to No. 26. 🤷🏿‍♂️ pic.twitter.com/3afYKivomG— Jaquiski 'Quaski' Tartt (@Quaski29) May 3, 2021 Running back Tevin Coleman wore No. 26 over the last two


Featured

More by Anwar Jamison

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone