NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Going through the initial release of the 49ers 2024 opponents

The San Francisco 49ers social media team deemed Thursday the last day to think about the disappointing end to the 2023 season and move forward to the probably disappointing 2024 season:

With plenty of things ahead that will change the outlook of the 2024 season, there is no better time to look forward to September than in mid-February. The order of the games is far from being set, but let’s take the 49ers’ social team advice and turn our focus seven months forward.

Here are my way-too-early first thoughts on the 49ers 2024 schedule:

The six NFC West games

2024 could be the final year of the 49ers vice grip on the division. After back-to-back division titles and going 11-1 against the NFC West the last two seasons, the gap between San Francisco and the rest of the division is as close as it has been in a few years.

The Rams surprised plenty with its 10-win season that produced a postseason appearance and could be another solid offseason away from being a legitimate threat for the NFC West crown.

Seattle also feels like they are an offseason away, but with Mike McDonald entering his first season as a head coach, there could be potential for a step back in 2024 before a step forward in 2025. Arizona has a direction for the first time since Bruce Arians was at the helm, but it is still a few years off.

The 49ers should be the best team in the west going into the 2024 season (an entire offseason pending), but these six games could be more challenging for San Francisco than previous years.

Bears (Home)

2024 marks the fifth time Kyle Shanahan will face the Bears in eight seasons, with a 2-2 record against Chicago. It will be the 49ers’ first look at Caleb Williams if the Bears choose to move off the former QB Collective prospect Justin Fields. Ideally, the weather will be better in Santa Clara than in Chicago when these two teams last met.

Lions (Home)

Dan Campbell will enter Levi’s Stadium looking for revenge. The 49ers traditionally have letdown spots in the regular season – as do many teams – and this one feels the most obvious to me right now. Campbell will treat this game as his personal Super Bowl (and there’s nothing wrong with that), while Shanahan will treat it as a regular season game, leading to a Detroit win.

Jets (Home)

A face-off with an old friend and an old rival as Robert Saleh and Aaron Rodgers’ will make their return to Levi’s. Saleh has had a rough go of it in his three years as the Jets’ head coach, having to deal with three seasons of Zach Wilson and others, but 2024 has a positive outlook with the pending return of Rodgers. If both teams enter this game healthy, it should be good.

Patriots (Home)

If the 49ers choose Bill Belichick to be its next defensive coordinator, then the story of this game practically writes itself. But if the Niners go another way at DC, this game will be one of those throwaway 1:05 games on CBS that San Francisco has in hand by 2:30.

Chiefs (Home)

No, thank you.

I don’t need this game again. I swore off Patrick Mahomes a couple of weeks ago and would never like to see him again on the other side of the 49ers.

To make matters worse, this game will likely be in primetime, with plenty of highlights of the last time these teams met. I don’t need to hear Cris Collinsworth go, “Hehehehe, just like the play that won the Super Bowl,” the first time Mahomes finds Mecole Hardman in the flats.

Cowboys (Home)

I want this game 17 times. If you gave me a choice between Kyle Shanahan and Mike McCarthy for every game in a regular season, I would pick Shanahan 17 times. I wonder if Micah Parson will want us to wait for the next time the Cowboys get a chance against the 49ers afterward.

Packers (Away)

In eight years, 2024 will mark the eighth time (including the postseason) that the 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers under Shanahan. San Francisco got its first taste of the Jordan Love Packers in the postseason last month, but his second chance against the 49ers will be in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. Ideally, this game should be earlier in the season rather than later to avoid any weird weather.

Vikings (Away)

The 49ers will return to the scene of one of its five regular season losses in 2023, heading back to Minnesota in 2024. This could be another chance for a Shanahan vs. Kirk Cousins game if Cousins’ free agency takes him back to the Vikings. San Francisco is 2-2, including a win in the postseason against Minnesota under Shanahan.

Dolphins (Away)

The last two games in this series have been eventful. In 2020, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins receivers took advantage of Brian Allen en route to a 43-17 win. The last time these two teams met was in 2022, when Jimmy Garoppolo injured his foot, opening the door for a rookie named Brock Purdy.

Oh! And the last time the 49ers played in Miami was Super Bowl LIV. That gives the broadcast another chance to show some fun highlights of a 49ers loss to Kansas City.

Bills (Away)

The last time the 49ers and Bills met was in 2020 in Arizona, with Buffalo pulling out a 34-24 win against a San Francisco team led by Nick Mullens. 2024 will mark the first time the 49ers travel to Buffalo under Shanahan, last losing 45-16 back in 2016. Like the Green Bay game, ideally, this is played earlier in the season to avoid the nasty winter Buffalo weather.

Buccaneers (Away)

Jameis Winston threw three interceptions, with two going for San Francisco touchdowns the last time Shanahan and company were down in Tampa Bay, opening a season that would result in an NFC Championship. Tampa Bay will likely have Baker Mayfield under center, the same quarterback as when the 49ers beat the Buccaneers in Week 11 of the 2023 season.

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