San Francisco 49ers 2012 Schedule Analysis

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The Athlon staff breaks down each and every schedule for the 2012 NFL season.

<p> San Francisco 49ers 2012 Schedule Analysis</p>

Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.

San Francisco 49ers 2012 Schedule:

Week 1: at Green Bay
Week 2: Detroit
Week 3: at Minnesota
Week 4: at New York Jets
Week 5: Buffalo
Week 6: New York Giants
Week 7: Seattle (Thurs.)
Week 8: at Arizona (Mon.)
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: St. Louis
Week 11: Chicago (Mon.)
Week 12: at New Orleans
Week 13: at St. Louis
Week 14: Miami
Week 15: at New England
Week 16: at Seattle
Week 17: Arizona

- San Francisco is in the NFC West, but it sure won't seem like that at the start of this season. The 49ers don't play a divisional game until Week 7 as their first three games are against the NFC North, and then they have back-to-back games against the AFC East. These are the other two divisions the 49ers will face off against in 2012, which means trips to Green Bay, Minnesota, New York to face the Jets, and New England, as well as home games against Detroit and Chicago.

- Throw in the 49ers' floating games against the Giants and Saints and this means they will play four of the five other NFC teams that made the playoffs last season. The rematch with the Giants will obviously be one to watch as the defending Super Bowl champions return to San Francisco, where they upset the 49ers 20-17 in overtime on their home field in last season's NFC Championship Game. San Francisco also will travel to New Orleans, who the 49ers defeated 36-32 in the NFC Divisional Round last season, to face the Saints on their home turf.

- The defending NFC West champions won't get the chance to ease into the start of this season, as San Francisco has to make the trek to Lambeau Field to face Green Bay. Then it's back home to host Detroit. As good as San Francisco's defense was last year, it was somewhat susceptible through the air. The 49ers finished 16th in the NFL in pass defense in 2011 and gets to start 2012 by facing last season's No. 3- and 4-ranked passing offenses in the Packers and Lions. What's more, San Francisco will face the top-five aerial attacks from 2011with New Orleans (first), New England (second) and the Giants (fifth) also on the schedule.

- The 49ers finally get reacquainted with some familiar foes starting in Week 7 when they play their first divisional game, a Thursday night home game against Seattle. They take on Arizona the following week on Monday Night Football before going on bye in Week 9. Half of San Francisco's final eight games are divisional affairs, including two against the rebuilding Rams.

- San Francisco's post-bye schedule starts off with consecutive home games, first versus St. Louis and then a Monday night showdown with Chicago. The 49ers will have to rebound quickly as a Week 12 trip to New Orleans follows the Bears. After that, it's mostly divisional play other than a Week 14 visit from Miami and a Week 15 trip to the east coast to take on New England.

Fantasy Focus: Even though San Francisco went 13-3 and lost in the NFC Championship Game last season, the offense was inconsistent at best. Look no further than the fact that the 49ers finished 29th in the league in passing offense. The team overhauled its receiving corps in the offseason, adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham through free agency,  and also taking Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round of the draft. Now it's a matter of the new acquisitions, along with last season's leading receiver, Michael Crabtree putting it together on the field with quarterback Alex Smith. If Smith can continue his development as a passer, the 49ers' receiving corps could prove valuable as fantasy contributors in 2012. This season, San Francisco will play eight of the top 10 teams that gave up the most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2011. New England gave up the most to wideouts last season, followed by Minnesota and Green Bay. The Giants came in fifth in this category, and were joined by New Orleans (6th), Detroit (7th), Arizona (8th) and Chicago (9th) in the top 10.

— by Mark Ross, published on June 15, 2012

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2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:

AFC East
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots
New York Jets

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

AFC West
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NFC East
Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins

NFC North
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

NFC South
Atlanta Falcons
Carolina Panthers
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

NFL Conferences: 
NFL Divisions: 

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