The 49ers have known their 2012 opponents for months, but today San Francisco will learn its complete schedule for the coming season when the entire NFL schedule is announced today on ESPN, the NFL Network and NFL.com at 4 p.m.
Count on a couple of things:
First, as the NFC’s No. 2 team, the 49ers will get more primetime games and more national exposure. The Niners under first-year coach Jim Harbaugh caught schedule-makers by surprise last season with their 13-3 record and NFC West title. Last season’s team played just two night games during the regular season, vs. Baltimore on Thanksgiving night and a “Monday Night Football” match-up vs. Pittsburgh late in the year.
And second, the 2012 schedule figures to be much tougher than the one in 2011. Of course, the Niners have known their opponents for quite a while, and the challenge ahead. Now they’ll find out the order. Will they have to run the gantlet or will they catch a few breaks?
Among the road games this season will be Green Bay, New Orleans and New England; home games include Detroit and the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants. So, the Niners will face the past three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks: Eli Manning of the Giants, Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Drew Brees of the Saints.
And it could well be that the 49ers will see Rodgers right out of the starting gate.
Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group reports that indications are that San Francisco will start its season with a game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay – possibly on a Sunday night.
That’s opening with a bang.
The lineup for San Francisco’s opponents in 2012:
Home – Bears, Lions, Giants, Bills, Dolphins, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks.
Away – Packers, Saints, Jets, Patriots, Vikings, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com reports the 49ers will be tasked with not only facing some very tough teams in 2012, but with traveling a total of 13,658 air miles – because of the Eastern and Midwestern opponents such as the Patriots, Jets, Saints, Packers, Rams and Vikings on their road schedule.
If the schedule-maker proves unkind – bunching long-distance trips instead of spreading them out – the 49ers could be in for trouble, Sando noted.
On Monday, Inman reported the 49ers’ four-game exhibition schedule will look like this: Vikings at 49ers Friday Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.; 49ers at Texans, date TBA; 49ers at Broncos (and Peyton Manning) Friday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.; Chargers at 49ers Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m.