San Francisco 49ers Easiest Games In 2016

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During July, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be analyzing the schedules of every team in the NFL and ranking each game in order of difficulty (with one being the most difficult).  This series will be split up into the eight most difficult games (ranked 1-8) and the eight easiest games (ranked 9-16) for each team.  In this article, the San Francisco 49ers easiest games are the focus.

San Francisco 49ers Easiest Games In 2016

9. Week 16 @ The Los Angeles Rams

 The Los Angeles Rams biggest strength is their defense.  Though they are not as formidable as Arizona or Carolina, Greg Williams keeps them competitive and tough.  The Rams moved up in this years draft to take Jared Goff. Goff is obviously going to have some growing pains in his first season.  Tavon Austin and Wes Welker are going to have provide some much needed support to the young quarterback.  Todd Gurley and Tre Mason are a great combination out of the backfield for the Rams.  The 49ers best chance in this game is to hold the Rams running game to under one hundred yards.  The San Francisco defense has to put consistent pressure on Goff.  This should be a close game at the end.

10. Week 12 @ The Miami Dolphins

In many ways Ryan Tannehill needs to prove he can take the next step this year.   He needs to show he is an elite NFL quarterback.  The drafting of Laremy Tunsil will help provide some stability to the offensive line.  The defensive line of the Miami Dolphins is going to be tough on the depleted offensive line of the 49ers.  Look for Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake to have big games.  San Francisco should still be able to run the ball against Miami taking advantage of Suh and Wake’s aggressiveness.  This may open up the pass game for San Francisco and they may be able to keep this game close.  This will give them a shot for the win at the end.

11. Week 13 @ The Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler has not proven at this point to be the answer that the Chicago Bears have been looking for at quarterback.  Alshon Jeffery will likely be matched up with Tramaine Brock considering the 49ers are lacking real talent at the corner position.  Fortunately for San Francisco the Bears offense is weak at the running back position and much of the pressure will be on Cutler and Jeffery to put up points.  The bears made strides towards improving their defense by signing outside linebacker Prenell McPhee, and inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan . These additions will solidify the interior of the Bears defense and make it hard for San Francisco to run the ball.  The 49ers need to try and protect the quarterback, whoever that may be, and get Torrey Smith involved early and often to try and put Chicago’s defense on their heels.

12. Week 1 vs. The Los Angeles Rams

San Francisco will open up the season at home versus one of their division rivals the Los Angeles Rams.  The 49ers will have the opportunity in this game to play Jared Goff in his first career NFL start.  Granted, Goff has been highly touted coming out of college as the most NFL ready quarterback.  San Francisco will still be able to take advantage of Goff’s nerves and lack of experience.  The Rams will have to rely heavily on Todd Gurley to carry some of the pressure on his shoulders, and the offensive line will have to play disciplined.  San Francisco needs to try and go up early in this game and put the heat on the Rams offense and their rookie quarterback to come from behind.

13. Week 14 vs. The New York Jets

 New York will most likely be entering the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback even though he continues to hold out for a new contract.  The Jets suffered a huge disappointment last season losing to the Buffalo Bills in week 17 and missing the playoffs (link a source to game).  By this point in the season this game may have playoff implications for both teams.  The only real advantage for San Francisco is this game is being at home.  Carlos Hyde needs to be a big part of the game plan.  The 49ers need to control the ball and the clock by controlling the ground game.  Defensively San Francisco has to try and shut down Brandon Marshall and keep him from being huge factor.  Though it will most likely be an upset San Francisco should be able to pull out a victory at home.

14. Week 9 vs. The New Orleans Saints

 The New Orleans Saints defense was abysmal last season and finished 31st in total defense, ahead of only the New York Giants.  The Saints also started more rookies on defense last season than any other team.  The format for winning this game for San Francisco is going to be keeping the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands.  Get Carlos Hyde going early and demoralize a weak and inexperienced Saints defense.  San Francisco has to potential to control this game from start to finish and win in convincing fashion.  Brees does have a history of improbable comebacks though, so if the 49ers do stretch out a lead they should still be wary.

15. Week 7 vs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 Tampa Bay let go of head coach Lovie Smith after the end of last season. To replace him the Bucs promoted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.  This will be Koetter’s first season as a head coach in the NFL.  Koetter has seen success as an offensive coordinator with Jacksonville and Atlanta. Running an entire team as head coach will be unfamiliar territory for Koetter.  If Chip Kelly can get his offense integrated and rolling by week 7 this could be a high scoring affair.  Containing Doug Martin and Jameis Winston will be the greatest challenge for San Francisco on defense.  Navarro Bowman has to have a big game at inside linebacker, and defensive ends DeForest Buckner and Glen Dorsey must contain Winston inside the pocket.

16. Week 15 @ The Atlanta Falcons

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn seems to have Atlanta heading in the right direction.  For Matt Ryanit’s time to prove he can get a playoff victory.  The biggest goal for San Francisco will be shutting down Julio Jones.  The 49ers need to make the Falcons offense one dimensional and put all the pressure on Matt Ryan.  Then, bring extra coverage over the top of the defense and double cover Jones.  Though the Falcons offensive line was much improved last season the running back core is not that strong.  Brandon Wilds and Tevin Colman are not names that strike fear into the heart of any defense.  It will prove to be a close game, but San Francisco should be able to pull out a win on the road.

Make sure to check out San Francisco’s most difficult games in 2016.