49ers Schedule 2013: Analyzing Best Prime-Time Matchups for Reigning NFC Champs

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers leads his teammates onto the field against the Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Ravens won 34-31. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As the defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers will be one of the most featured prime-time teams in 2013. In all, they get the chance to play in front of a national TV audience five times.

With the emergence of Colin Kaepernick as a superstar, a defense that returns nearly every starter and a stockpile of draft picks to add young talent to the roster, the 'Niners are set for a huge 2013. After coming just short of the ultimate prize, 49ers fans have to be excited about another legitimate run at the title.

The 49ers were a perfect 5-0 in night games last season and would get a huge boost if they were able to run the table in their five prime-time spots this season.

Here's a look at their best matchups on the national stage in 2013.

Full schedule can be found at NFL.com.


Week 2

Opponent: at Seattle Seahawks

When: Sunday, Sept. 15, at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Info: NBC

The burgeoning rivalry between the 'Niners and the Seattle Seahawks is quickly turning into one of the best inner-division rivalries in the NFL today.

With Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, both teams can lay claim to the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the league. Both teams have dominating defenses that love to get after the quarterback. The duels between these two could be must-see TV for years to come.

Last season, the two teams split the series. The 'Niners won in Week 7 at home on a Thursday night, 13-6. But the Seahawks played their best game of the year in the rematch, handing Kaepernick his first loss as a starter, 42-13.

This is one of the best matchups of the early season, and the early NFC West lead will be on the line.


Week 5

Opponent: vs. Houston Texans

When: Sunday, Oct. 6, at 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Info: NBC

Schedule makers didn't make life easy for San Francisco. When the Texans roll into town, it'll be the fourth 2012 playoff team it will see in the first five weeks of the season.

With a Thursday night road game against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4, the veteran 'Niners will have a few extra days to rest up. That could be huge, because this one's sure to get physical.

Both teams ranked in the top 10 in rushing last season and will look to pound the rock. With a combined 2012 record of 23-8-1, this is a matchup of two elite teams from last season, and the winner will take a big step toward becoming a Super Bowl contender.

A win against the Texans would be huge considering the difficulty of the early season.


Week 16

Opponent: vs. Falcons

When: Monday, Dec. 23, at 8:40 p.m. ET


It's only April, but if last season is any indication, it won't get much bigger than this matchup down the stretch.

The 'Niners and Falcons were the top two seeds in the conference last season and met in an epic conference championship game. Both are in a position to get right back to that point again next season.

Wedged between two road games against non-playoff teams from last season, this could be the final chance for the team to play against a fellow playoff contender.

With potential playoff seeding and serious momentum heading into the playoffs on the line, this is a matchup that is all but guaranteed to live up to its prime-time billing.