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



Film From the Field House: Scripting the San Francisco 49ers' Opening Offense Against the Los Angeles Rams

By Bret Rumbeck
Nov 28, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a late-season bye week and still have an outside shot at the playoffs. It's a strange thing to type, considering the men wearing the intersecting letters on their helmets do not resemble a real threat to any opponent. Yet, the 49ers have shown some fight. Against the New Orleans Saints, the 49ers opened the game dominating on both sides of the ball. The offense held the ball for 13:39 minutes, running 23 plays for 83 yards. On the flip side, the 49ers' defense held the Saints to 8 yards in the first quarter. Overall, the defense kept two Saints quarterbacks under 150 yards throwing, and the Saints rush game to 114 yards. Unfortunately, these are small diamonds buried in a constant shovel load of dung. The 49ers

Read the Full Article


Ahkello Witherspoon once again among inactives as 49ers prepare to face Rams in Week 12

By David Bonilla
4 hrs ago

The San Francisco 49ers have released the list of inactive players for their Week 12 matchup on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. These players will not suit up for Sunday's game. Inactives: RB Tevin Coleman OG Tom Compton DB Chris Edwards LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles CB K'Waun Williams CB Ahkello Witherspoon Witherspoon is among the 49ers' inactive players for the third consecutive game and appears to be a healthy scratch. Running back Tevin Coleman (knee), tackle Tom Compton (concussion), linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (hamstring), and cornerback K'Waun Williams (ankle) were all ruled out on

Read the Full Article


Jerry Rice compares 49ers-Rams to a 'playoff game,' identifies areas Kyle Shanahan must improve

By David Bonilla
Nov 23, 2020

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice joined 95.7 The Game on Monday morning, as he does each week during the season, and discussed the upcoming matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams still have their Monday-night game to play, and the Niners are coming off a bye week. The two NFC West rivals will clash on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. "They have to look at that game — and I'm calling it right now — that game is a playoff game, guys," Rice told the hosts of The Morning Roast. "That's the way the Niners gotta look at that game coming up." Rice believes the bye week may do the 49ers some good, allowing head coach Kyle Shanahan to work on certain tendencies and techniques to improve at several position

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Anwar Jamison

All Articles by Anwar Jamison

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone