The last few days have been interesting reading about the San Francisco 49ers and how the team is predicted to finish for 2012 with a tougher schedule. A decrease from 13 victories from last season is justifiable. Yet, it is absurd to believe that the 49ers will not make the playoffs and regress from last year.
One reason that sticks out on why the 49ers will see a drop off in wins is because of the schedule. The 49ers start off the season on the road against the Green Bay Packers. This is a great match-up for the 49ers to start the season as the Packers feature a prolific passing game and Aaron Rodgers rarely makes mistakes with the football as he threw for 4,643 yards in 15 games and more impressive in the 502 pass attempts threw only six interceptions.
Defensively the 49ers ranked second only to the Packers in interceptions with 23, also the defense forced 20 fumbles, picked up 42 sacks and ranked no.1 against the run.
A week later the 49ers return home to face the Detroit Lions another team that possesses a prolific passing attack with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson leading the way. Last season the 49ers did well in covering Johnson, though he managed seven receptions for 113 yards, the 49ers were able to keep him out of the end zone.
Defensively is where the Lions struggled as the secondary got shredded and because of the lack of success stopping passing attacks the Lions also struggled against the run.
In weeks three and four the 49ers are on the road facing off against the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets. The concern against the Vikings is keeping Alex Smith protected from Jared Allen who led the NFL with 22 sacks. Adrian Peterson normally would be a concern on offense, yet there’s no guarantee that Peterson will be back from injury.
With the Jets the concern would be to keep the ball away from their two excellent cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie offensively the one concern for the 49ers would be defending Santonio Holmes.
The 49ers return home for three straight games facing the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. With the Bills the 49ers will need to concentrate on stopping Steve Johnson and David Nelson and talented running back Fred Jackson. As for the Giants the 49ers need to get pressure on Eli Manning and force him to make bad decisions. The Giants don’t have a strong running game, yet have a speedy receiver in Victor Cruz and an extremely talented Hakeem Nicks. The two combined for 158 receptions, 2,728 yards and 16 touchdowns.
When the Seahawks come to town on a Thursday night it will be the first division match-up for the 49ers. The key will be stopping Marshawn Lynch who had a big game against the 49ers with 21 carries for 107 yards and a touchdown. Even though the Seahawks have Matt Flynn as the starting quarterbacks the Seahawks do not have a strong receiving group and will struggles against the 49ers pass defense.
Returning to the road the 49ers taken on the Arizona Cardinals for a Monday night game. As the season progressed last season for the Cardinals their defense came on strong and with the 49ers struggling in the red zone last season, the Cardinals defeated the 49ers for one of the three losses last season.
With the 49ers signing Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Brandon Jacobs and the drafting of LaMichael James the 49ers red zone woes are in the past.
Offensively the Cardinals lack a running game and instead of drafting a running back to improve the running game, the Cardinals selected wide receiver Michael Floyd. There’s also question marks with Kevin Kolb and whether or not he’s the starter for the team and his contract alone makes it impossible to keep him on the bench.
November 4th brings the bye week to the 49ers and after the bye the 49ers take on the St. Louis Rams at home. Much like previous seasons if the Rams are to do any damage offensively Steven Jackson will be featured a number of times. Also, the health of Sam Bradford will also play a major role.
Another Monday night game this time at home facing the Chicago Bears. Matt Forte and Jay Cutler are the weapons on offense for the Bears and the 49ers will also need to make sure Forte gets covered out of the backfield as he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Johnny Knox is the big play receiver for the Bears as he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception, yet he only had 37 catches.
Defensively the Bears are led by the veterans of Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman.
Out on the road again the 49ers take on the New Orleans Saints. Another team that doesn’t have a very good running game or defense, yet has a prolific passing attack. Drew Brees leads the way for the Saints and he has weapons at wide receiver and tight end with Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham leading the way.
Following that difficult test the 49ers go to St. Louis to take on the Rams again. The 49ers then return home and take on the Miami Dolphins and the one concern for the 49ers would be to make sure Reggie Bush doesn’t get going.
Another difficult game awaits the 49ers and again it’s a game on the road. The 49ers go on the road to face the New England Patriots and the high-powered offense led by Tom Brady. The 49ers will need to keep Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in check.
The 49ers then go to one of the more difficult places to play in football, Seattle and return home for the last game of the season to take on the Cardinals.
Facing the Packers, Saints and Patriots on the road it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 49ers lose those games. As for home games Lions and Bears will be interesting match-ups and the Cardinals could be a challenge as well. So, it does seem that the 49ers may not win 13 games like last season, yet there’s no question that the 49ers will win at least 10 games in 2012 even with a tougher schedule.