As if the 49ers don’t have enough hurdles to clear in 2016, here’s another:
According to an assessment done on strength of schedules this coming NFL season, the 49ers will have to play perhaps the toughest.
The Niners – who have questions all over the roster, including at quarterback, the offensive line, tight end, the secondary and linebacker – are tied with the Falcons for having opponents with the combined best records this coming season. Plus, the 49ers will be adjusting to a whole new coaching staff and schemes, led by head coach Chip Kelly.
Atlanta and San Francisco rank first in the NFL with toughest schedule this coming season based on winning percentage. Their opponents had a .555 winning percentage in 2015, according to the figures put together by SB Nation.
The dates of the 2016 schedule have not yet been announced, but it is known that the 49ers (5-11 in 2015) will play the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Saints, Bucs, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys at home. The road opponents will be the Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, Falcons, Panthers, Bills, Dolphins and Bears.
The Panthers, of course, were 15-1 and a Super Bowl team, while the Patriots were 12-4 and the Cardinals 13-3.
SB Nation concluded that the 49ers’ upcoming schedule ranks No. 1 as the toughest if point differential from 2015 games is tallied. Under that measure, Niners opponents had a winning margin of plus-590 total points, far above the No. 2 team (Rams, 489).
As David Fucillo of SB Nation points out, a big part of the 49ers’ strength of schedule is the NFC West, which has two playoff teams in the Seahawks and Cardinals as well as what seems to be an improving Rams franchise. Seattle and Arizona were a combined 23-9 in 2015, he notes, with a combined point differential of plus-322.