San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 opponents and strength of schedule

Who are the San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 NFL opponents as they look to bounce back from a poor performance in the 2020 season? Let’s look at who the 49ers will play in 2021, and what that means in terms of their strength of schedule ranking compared to their rivals.

Who do the 49ers play in 2021?

The 49ers’ list of 2021 opponents will see them play the regular six games against the NFC West: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and Seattle Seahawks. As is customary, the 49ers will face each of those three teams both at home and on the road during the 2021 season.

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In addition, the 2021 season will see the NFC West compete against the NFC North and AFC South for another eight games. Finally, the remaining two games on the traditional 16-game schedule will see the 49ers face the two teams that finished in last place of the NFC East (Philadelphia Eagles) and NFC South (Atlanta Falcons).

What about the 49ers’ 17th game in 2021?

The 2021 season is expected to introduce a 17th regular season game for all NFL teams. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported on NFL.com that plans are in place to expand the regular season, although their report has yet to be officially confirmed by the NFL. Therefore, who would be the opponent for the 49ers’ 17th game in the 2021 season?

Reports suggest that a decision has been made on how the 17th game opponent will be decided. The matchup will be an interconference matchup based on standings on a rotational basis.

Albert Breer reports that the divisional alignments for the 2021 season had already been set. According to Breer, the NFC West will face the AFC North for the 17th game. Therefore, the 49ers’ opponent for their 17th game in 2021 would be the Cincinnati Bengals.

The San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 opponents

Here are the teams that the San Francisco 49ers will play against in the 2021 NFL season:

Home: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons

Road: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles

17th game (location TBD): Cincinnati Bengals

San Francisco 49ers’ strength of schedule for 2021

As we look ahead towards the 2021 NFL season, how does the 49ers’ strength of schedule for 2021 shape up? The strength of schedule rankings are compiled from the 2020 records of the 49ers’ 2021 opponents.

The 49ers have one of the easiest schedules in 2021

The 49ers’ 2021 strength of schedule ranks as the 21st-toughest in the league. They have the eighth-easiest schedule in the NFC and the easiest schedule in the NFC West.

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The six games against their own division see the 49ers facing three teams who won a total of 30 of their 48 games. The 49ers’ schedule sees them playing a total of eight games against teams that made the playoffs last season. Four of those will be within their division against the Seahawks and Rams. Meanwhile, the other four come against the Packers, Bears, Colts, and Titans.

However, the remaining games see a far easier group of opponents. The Cardinals are the only other team on the schedule to have won eight games. Therefore, the other seven games will be against teams that won an average of 4.1 games in 2020.

How does their schedule at home compare to their schedule on the road?

When it comes to their 2021 opponents, the 49ers have a reasonably wide home and road split. Their home schedule at Levi Stadium ranks as the ninth-toughest in the entire NFL. This is due to home matchups with the Packers and Colts as well as their division opponents in the Seahawks, Rams, and Cardinals.

However, their road schedule ranks as the 11th-easiest in the league. The 49ers will travel to face a combination of the Lions, Jaguars, Eagles, and Bengals. Those four teams won a combined 14 games out of a total of 64 in 2020.

Want more NFL news and analysis?

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Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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