In addition to adapting to a new head coach and staff in 2015 and going through what could be a significant roster makeover, the 49ers will face an additional obstacle: one of the NFL’s toughest schedules.
The 49ers, coming off an 8-8 season, will have a tough road to rebound this coming season under new head coach Jim Tomsula. Their schedule ranks as the third toughest in the NFL.
San Francisco’s opponents in 2015 had a .561 winning percentage, finishing with a combined record of 143-112-1, according to the team’s website.
Naturally, the 49ers face a demanding schedule because of their place in the NFC West, which has the defending NFC champion Seahawks and the Cardinals, who went to the playoffs in 2014. But the 49ers also will be matched against teams from the AFC North in 2015. Those teams were a combined 38-26 in 2014 and the division was the only one to produce three playoff teams. The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals all reached the postseason.
The Niners also will play two other playoff teams, the Packers and Lions of the NFC North. Nine of the 49ers’ 16 games in 2015 will be against playoff teams.
The only bright point for the 49ers is that all NFC West teams will be challenged. The Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams rank 4-5-6 in toughest schedules for 2015.
Strength of schedule can be a big factor when it comes to making the playoffs. Of the 12 teams that made the postseason in 2014, only four faced a schedule where the opponents’ winning percentage was better than .500.
Some teams may have a much easier road than the 49ers in 2015. The Indianapolis Colts, for instance, will have an opponents’ winning percentage of just .417. The Atlanta Falcons will have the easiest schedule (.409).