The 49ers play a Week 3 game at Arizona. They finish the regular season at home against the St. Louis Rams.
But their season will likely hinge on how they perform during a five-game stretch from Oct. 22 to Nov. 29 when four of their five games are against NFC West opponents.
All things considered, the schedule-makers were kind to the 49ers. They are one of nine teams, including NFC West opponent St. Louis, that will not face any team coming off a bye.
The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, face three opponents coming off their byes. Those opponents are Carolina in Week 6, the 49ers in Week 11, and Pittsburgh in Week 12. It could be worse for the two-time defending division champions, though. All those games will be in Seattle.
In many cases on the 49ers' schedule, there is no advantage for either team, beyond the built-in home/road edge. But there are seven games in which the schedule works to one team’s advantage:
[MAIOCCO: 49ers 2015 schedule breakdown]
Week 1 vs. Minnesota: The first week of the regular season theoretically holds no inherent advantage for either team.
Week 2 at Pittsburgh: The Steelers will have four extra days to prepare for the 49ers for their Week 2 game. The Steelers open the season on Thursday, Sept. 10, at New England. The 49ers play Monday, Sept. 14, then have to travel across the country on a short week. Advantage: Steelers.
Week 3 at Arizona: The Cardinals, the 49ers’ opponent this week, plays their Week 2 game at Chicago, while the 49ers play in Pittsburgh. Neither team has a significant advantage.
Week 4 vs. Green Bay: The Packers play a Monday night game at home, then must travel to Santa Clara on a short week. Advantage: 49ers.
Week 5 at N.Y. Giants: The 49ers travel cross country, but they get 7 ½ extra hours for their week due to the late start time against the New York Giants. The Giants play at Buffalo in their previous game.
Week 6 vs. Baltimore: The Ravens play at home against Cleveland the week before coming to Levi’s Stadium, while the 49ers have a Sunday night road game against the Giants.
Week 7 vs. Seattle: On a short week with a Thursday night game, the 49ers remain at home. They play the Ravens, then four days later they host the Seahawks. The Seahawks make the short flight after playing a home game against Carolina.
Week 8 at St. Louis: The 49ers have a long week to prepare for the Rams, who face the Browns in St. Louis the previous Sunday. Advantage: 49ers.
Week 9 vs. Atlanta: Atlanta is at home against Tampa Bay before they travel to the Bay Area for their Nov. 8 game. The 49ers will be coming off a road game at St. Louis.
Week 10: The 49ers’ bye week.
Week 11 at Seattle: The 49ers will be coming off their bye week. Seattle plays a home Sunday night game against Arizona the week before hosting the 49ers. Advantage: 49ers.
Week 12 vs. Arizona: The week before the 49ers face Arizona, they travel to Seattle. The Cardinals will be coming off a home game against Cincinnati.
Week 13 at Chicago: The Bears will have a long week to get ready for the 49ers, as they play at Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day. Advantage: Bears.
Week 14 at Cleveland: The 49ers requested back-to-back Eastern road games so they could cut down on their travel schedule with a one-week stay in Youngstown, Ohio. This probably isn’t what they wanted, with potential back-to-back cold-weather games. The two times the 49ers stayed in Youngstown (in 2011 and ’12), they won the back ends of those trips.
Week 15 vs. Cincinnati: The 49ers return home from their back-to-back road games to face Cincinnati, which will have played the previous Sunday at home. This game is scheduled for Sunday night, but it could be changed to an afternoon start if another game has greater playoff implications.
Week 16 at Detroit: The 49ers head back onto the road to face the Detroit Lions, who will have a short week after playing a Monday night game in Week 15 at the New Orleans Saints. Advantage: 49ers.
Week 17 vs. St. Louis: The 49ers return home to close out the regular season against the Rams, who end the season with back-to-back trips to the West Coast. The Rams travel to Seattle the previous Sunday. Advantage: 49ers.