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Here’s the first look at the 49ers’ 2019 season schedule (all times Pacific), with our predictions added.
Week 1 (Sunday, Sept. 8): at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1:25 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (0-1)
The season opener can be strange, particularly when facing a team with a new coach and without game film to prepare (remember when Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly looked like world beaters in their 49ers debuts?). Bruce Arians will try to revive quarterback Jameis Winston and talented receiver Mike Evans, who is a bad matchup for San Francisco’s secondary.
Week 2 (Sunday, Sept. 15): at Cincinnati Bengals, 10 a.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Win (1-1)
Cincy could be one of the worst teams in the NFL, and the 49ers might be lucky to catch it early in the season. This also could come after San Francisco stays in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, to practice for the week, rather than fly home from Florida after the opener. This marks the first time the 49ers have opened with consecutive road games since 1997.
Week 3 (Sunday, Sept. 22): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Prediction: Win (2-1)
It will be the first time the Steelers travel to play the 49ers since the lights went out in Candlestick Park in 2011. Big Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a monster 5,000-yard season. But will he be able to replicate that success at age 37? Probably not against the 49ers’ new-look pass rush that should be energized in front of its home crowd for the first time.
Week 4: Bye
Week 5 (Monday, Oct. 7): vs. Cleveland Browns, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Prediction: Loss (2-2)
Count me in as someone who believes in what the Browns are building with Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Myles Garrett and Co. Cleveland may have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL (wow, that’s weird to type), and the 49ers simply don’t. This could be Cleveland’s coming-out party in front of a prime-time audience.
Week 6 (Sunday, Oct. 13): at Los Angeles Rams, 1:05 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (2-3)
It’s hard to envision the 49ers traveling to play the defending NFC champs and escape with a victory. The Rams are simply too talented and San Francisco’s defense could still be trying to figure things out. Either way, this could be an entertaining game with Jimmy Garoppolo under center for the first time in a meaningful game against L.A.
Week 7 (Sunday, Oct. 20): at Washington, 10 a.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Win (3-3)
Will Reuben Foster be suited up for Washington? Who will be the quarterback? The home team looks like it will spend 2019 in transition while Alex Smith recovers from his gruesome leg injury. The 49ers should be able to take advantage and snap their two-game skid with an encouraging road win, which have been hard to come by since Shanahan took over in 2017.
Week 8 (Sunday, Oct. 27): vs. Carolina Panthers, 1:05 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Win (4-3)
The Panthers will be coming off a bye, but they might not be fully rested. Their Week 6 game will be played in London. Two weeks and 5,300 miles between games should benefit the 49ers here, even if Carolina is the more talented and tested club.
Week 9 (Thursday, Oct. 31): @ Arizona Cardinals, 5:20 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (4-4)
This marks the first time since the 49ers moved to Levi’s Stadium they won’t be hosting a Thursday night game. Sure, it’s just a two-hour flight to the desert, but the game will be just four days after a physical affair with Carolina. Will San Francisco’s defense have the legs to keep up with Kyler Murray?
Week 10 (Monday, Nov. 11): vs. Seattle Seahawks, 5:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Prediction: Win (5-4)
I’ll give this one to the 49ers because they’ll have 10 days to stew on their loss in Arizona. And they should be plenty motivated to start their first winning streak against Seattle since 2011 and 2012. This would be a good way to kick off a run of three straight home games.
Week 11 (Sunday, Nov. 17): vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:05 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Win (6-4)
This time, the 49ers should take care of business against the inferior team. It will be the second time these teams play in 18 days. San Francisco should have a better grasp of Kliff Kingsbury’s offense at this point.
Week 12 (Sunday, Nov. 24): vs. Green Bay Packers, 1:25 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (6-5)
Prepare yourselves for the endless stories about Shanahan mentoring his good friend, Matt LeFleur, the new head coach in Green Bay. LaFleur’s Shanahan-inspired offense should be perfect for Aaron Rodgers, while the Packers’ additions on defense might make them one of the best teams in the NFC. No revenge from last October’s frustrating loss at Lambeau Field here.
Week 13 (Sunday, Dec. 1): @ Baltimore Ravens, 10 a.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (6-6)
The Ravens lost some pieces on defense and will have Lamar Jackson under center for his first full season. On the road, in the cold, with an early start time should make this a tough one on San Francisco. Will the 49ers be good enough to take down a playoff contender on the road in December? It feels too early to view them that way.
Week 14 (Sunday, Dec, 8): @ New Orleans Saints, 10 a.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (6-7)
A return to the scene of Super Bowl XLVII looks like a daunting task. The Saints figure to be one of the favorites for this year’s Super Bowl — and the 49ers’ defense will be tested in a big way against Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. San Francisco simply doesn’t have the horses for its second straight cross-country trip.
Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 15): vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:25 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Win (7-7)
The Falcons are a tough team to figure out heading into 2019. They have plenty of talent and might have been a playoff team without injuries to key defenders last season. The 49ers should be desperate for a victory here, and the Falcons might not be suited to play in the elements this time of year.
Week 16 (Dec. 21 or Dec. 22): vs. Los Angeles Rams (CBS)
Prediction: Win (8-7)
The Rams could be coasting to another playoff berth and might lack the same intensity they had when these teams met earlier in the season. Meanwhile, the 49ers will be eager to stay alive in the playoff hunt, even if the odds are long in a competitive NFC. San Francisco has typically played its best late in the schedule since Shanahan became coach.
Week 17 (Sun, Dec. 29): @ Seattle Seahawks, 1:25 p.m. (Fox)
Prediction: Loss (8-8)
The 49ers haven’t won in Seattle since Michael Crabtree saved Christmas in 2011. That’s seven straight defeats — and most have been blowouts. The question becomes, will 8-8 be satisfactory after going 6-10 and 4-12 in Shanahan’s first two years?