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The heat is on -- Every NFL fan in America right now has identified the spot in his/her team's schedule that serves as undeniable proof that the league has it in for their team and has for years. For the 49ers, that spot is Week 2. No only do they have to fly across the country and play a 10 a.m. (PT) game against the Steelers. They have to do so on a short week after opening the season on a Monday. But wait, there's more: The Steelers open the season on a Thursday, giving them a long week to rest and repair. Freakin' schedule makers, always leaving the (your team here) at a disadvantage!
More bad news -- Twelve teams make the playoffs each year. The 49ers play five of last year's playoff teams in a six-game stretch in the first half of the season. Their only respite is a 3,000-mile trip east to play the Giants on Oct. 11. They play the Giants, Ravens and Seahawks in consecutive weeks in October. Those three teams knocked the 49ers from the playoffs from 2011-13.
The good news? -- After a home Thursday game against the Seahawks, the 49ers play non-playoff teams in the Rams and Falcons, then have their bye in Week 10. That precedes their game in Seattle. The Seahawks host the Cardinals the week before their rematch with San Francisco.
Wave bye -- The 49ers are one of nine teams -- Oakland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and St. Louis are the others -- that won't face any team coming off its bye. That’s obviously proof the NFL schedule makers love the 49ers and Raiders.
The heat is off -- Remember last season when one of the story lines from Levi's Stadium was how the fans on the east side sweltered in the summer sun? That promises to be minimized, if not eliminated, this season. The two preseason home games on Aug. 23 and Aug. 29 start at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Last year both preseason kickoffs were at 1 p.m. Meanwhile, there is only one home game in September, and it starts at 7:20 p.m.
Back to backs -- Last month, teams made a number of requests to schedule makers. The Ravens, for example, wanted back-to-back games on the West Coast so they could avoid the long trip back east between contests. They got it ... sort of. After playing the 49ers on Oct. 18, they play at Arizona (still on Pacific time) the following week. That game, however, is on a Monday. (Baltimore opens the season in Denver and the following week is in Oakland). The Steelers also requested back-to-back West Coast games but didn’t get them.
Hello, Youngstown? -- The 49ers, meanwhile, requested that two of their four eastern time zone games be back to back. They didn't get that arrangement. However, their game in Chicago (Central time zone) on Dec. 6 is followed by a game in Cleveland (Eastern time zone). If the 49ers spend a week in Youngstown like they did in 2011 and 2012, that would be the most logical spot. Youngstown is 75 miles from Cleveland.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.