San Francisco 49ers

49ers notes: NFC East, AFC South teams on 2017 schedule

The 49ers and Chicago Bears will play for the fourth straight season in 2017.
The 49ers and Chicago Bears will play for the fourth straight season in 2017. AP

The Carolina Panthers’ 33-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday solved the only remaining mystery on the 49ers’ schedule for next season.

By clinching last place in the NFC South, the Panthers will visit the 49ers, the last-place team in the NFC West, in 2017.

Other highlights:

Obviously he was getting acclimated to playing football. But I think he’s progressed as we’ve gone along.

Chip Kelly, 49ers coach, on backup quarterback Christian Ponder

▪ The 49ers will play the Chicago Bears, the NFC North’s last-place team, for the fourth consecutive year and visit Chicago for the third season in a row.

▪ The 49ers will face the NFC East and AFC South. If they retain coach Chip Kelly – a giant question mark – he would play his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and all the squads he used to meet twice a year.

▪ The travel distance for next season is 23,758 miles. By comparison, this year’s regular-season mileage – including a weeklong stay in Orlando, Fla. – was 22,130. Both pale in comparison to 2015, when the 49ers led the NFL with 28,000 air miles, and 2013, when they tallied 33,000 air miles because of a London game.

Home: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks.

Away: Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Bears, Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks.

Et cetera – Kelly said Christian Ponder has “done a nice job” since being promoted to No. 2 quarterback two weeks ago. Kelly noted Ponder hadn’t been playing when the 49ers signed him in August. “Obviously he was getting acclimated to playing football,” he said. “But I think he’s progressed as we’ve gone along.”

▪ As was the case Tuesday, left tackle Joe Staley (hamstring) warmed up on a side field Wednesday before joining teammates at practice. He was a limited participant, as were center Marcus Martin (ankle) and guard Andrew Tiller (ankle).

23,758 49ers’ estimated travel mileage next season

▪ Rookie DeForest Buckner said he plans to split his offseason between EXOS, a performance-enhancing center in Carlsbad, and his native Hawaii, where he plans to train with teammate Arik Armstead and Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett. The three also worked out together before this season.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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