It's officially a new era for the San Francisco 49ers, and they now have the schedule they will be asked to navigate in head coach Kyle Shanahan's first season.
San Francisco is coming off a 2-14 season and hasn't made the playoffs since the 2013 campaign. It is probably too early to ask Shanahan's bunch to compete for the postseason in 2017, but he did help lead the Atlanta Falcons to last season's Super Bowl as the offensive coordinator.
It will likely take some time to build that type of success in San Francisco, but Shanahan has his first-year roadmap following Thursday's schedule release.
The schedule is courtesy of NFL.com.
|2017 San Francisco 49ers' Regular-Season Schedule|
|1||Sept. 10||Carolina Panthers||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|2||Sept. 17||at Seattle Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|3||Sept. 21||Los Angeles Rams||8:25 p.m.||NFLN|
|4||Oct. 1||at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|5||Oct. 8||at Indianapolis Colts||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|6||Oct. 15||at Washington Redskins||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|7||Oct. 22||Dallas Cowboys||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|8||Oct. 29||at Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|9||Nov. 5||Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|10||Nov. 12||New York Giants||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|12||Nov. 26||Seattle Seahawks||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|13||Dec. 3||at Chicago Bears||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 10||at Houston Texans||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|15||Dec. 17||Tennessee Titans||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 24||Jacksonville Jaguars||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 31||at Los Angeles Rams||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
Shanahan won't be the only new face in the Bay Area. Colin Kaepernick is no longer the quarterback, and the team signed veteran Brian Hoyer to at least strive for consistency under center after it finished dead last in the league in passing yards per game in 2016.
All isn't dire for the 49ers considering they were an impressive fourth in the league in rushing yards per game last season. Running back Carlos Hyde will be just 26 years old for the majority of the 2017 season, and Shanahan will likely look to ride his young playmaker against this schedule.
The 49ers accomplished those rushing yardage totals even with the worst run-blocking offensive line in the league, per Football Outsiders. What's more, the team's defense finished dead last in the league in points allowed per game.
While Shanahan can build on the rushing attack, the 49ers need to make significant strides in a number of areas to realistically compete against the newly released schedule.
San Francisco probably isn't going to make unexpected noise in the division without notching at least one head-to-head win against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks captured three of the last four NFC West crowns and have established themselves as annual Super Bowl contenders under head coach Pete Carroll. Quarterback Russell Wilson is one of the best signal-callers in the league, and the defense will prove daunting against Hoyer and Co. in their two matchups.
Below Seattle, the Arizona Cardinals are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 7-8-1 campaign. Despite last season's poor record, they are not far removed from a 13-3 mark and NFC Championship Game appearance during the 2015 season and still have David Johnson in the backfield and Larry Fitzgerald catching passes.
Surpassing Seattle may be too optimistic of a goal for Shanahan's first season, but San Francisco also has two chances to beat Arizona in the division.
Unless they surprise, the 49ers will be battling more on the bottom of the NFC for incremental improvement. They play a team in the Chicago Bears this season that is in a similar position. That showdown will likely go a long way toward seeing which one takes a bigger step record-wise this year, although the loser will have more favorable draft position.