Usually a team that finishes in last place and won only six games isn’t an attractive product to put on prime-time television.
But 2020 was an aberration for the 49ers, which is why they will have the TV spotlight five times in 2021. And it is expected that most if not all 32 NFL stadiums, including Levi’s Stadium, will be at full capacity for fans come Week 1 after the Niners played to mostly empty venues in 2020.
The NFL released its schedule Wednesday, which for the first time is 17 games over 18 weeks.
Just 15 months removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the Niners will open the 2021 season with back-to-back road games against the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. The Sept. 12 season opener against the Lions comes against a familiar face in quarterback Jared Goff, the former Cal star who was traded from the Los Angeles Rams for Matthew Stafford.
There is good fortune for the 49ers in facing the Lions to begin the season. In the previous two occurrences, the Niners won the Super Bowl.
In addition to playing the other NFC West teams — Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks — at home and on the road, the Niners will also face the entire NFC North and AFC South. Two other fourth-place teams are on the schedule — the Eagles and Atlanta Falcons — along with the extra opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals game is on the road, meaning the Niners have eight home games and nine away games.
Week 3 brings the first of the prime-time performances when the Niners open their home schedule vs. the Green Bay Packers, who may or may not have former Cal quarterback and reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers on the roster. It will be on “Sunday Night Football” Sept. 26.
The second of three “Sunday Night” appearances will be Week 7 at home vs. the Indianapolis Colts, while the final one will be Week 13 at the Seattle Seahawks. The other two nationally televised games are Week 10 vs. the Rams on “Monday Night Football” and Week 16 at the Tennessee Titans on a Thursday night.
This season’s Super Bowl will be held Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.
Two of the three preseason games were announced, with the Niners hosting the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders, who will be making their return after abandoning Oakland for Sin City before the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, the 49ers waived running back Austin Walter. Originally signed to the practice squad Sept. 23, Walter appeared in three games in 2020, getting one carry for 3 yards and catching one pass for 27 yards in the Nov. 15 game against the New Orleans Saints.
Date Opponent Time
TBD vs. Chiefs TBD
TBD TBD TBD
TBD vs. Raiders TBD
Sept. 12 at Lions 10 a.m.
Sept. 19 at Eagles 10 a.m.
Sept. 26 vs. Packers 5:20 p.m.
Oct. 3 vs. Seahawks 1:05 p.m.
Oct. 10 at Cardinals 1:25 p.m.
Oct. 17 Bye
Oct. 24 vs. Colts 5:20 p.m.
Oct. 31 at Bears 10 a.m.
Nov. 7 vs. Cardinals 1:25 p.m.
Nov. 15 vs. Rams 5:15 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Jaguars 10 a.m.
Nov. 28 vs. Vikings 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 5 at Seahawks 5:20 p.m.
Dec. 12 at Bengals 10 a.m.
Dec. 19 vs. Falcons 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 23 at Titans 5:20 p.m.
Jan. 2 vs. Texans 1:05 p.m.
Jan. 9 at Rams 1:25 p.m.