HomeSportsMaiocco's way-too-early 49ers 2024 game-by-game predictions

Maiocco’s way-too-early 49ers 2024 game-by-game predictions

Maiocco’s way-too-early 49ers 2024 game-by-game predictions originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The last time the 49ers went to the Super Bowl (and lost), the organization took an abrupt downward turn the following season, finishing 6-10 in 2020.

San Francisco is hoping to avoid a similar outcome during the 2024 NFL season, and now it knows what path it will have to take to return to the mountaintop as the league released its full schedule on Wednesday.

The 49ers are coming off a season in which they earned the NFC’s No. 1 playoff title and then posted two comeback victories to win the conference title. But they fell short of their ultimate goal with a 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII. Yet the 49ers know they are the target of every team in the NFC.

And they’ll face plenty of challenges along the way, including six games against NFC playoff teams from a year ago. The 49ers will also face AFC powerhouses Kansas City and Buffalo.

With the publication of the 2024 regular season schedule, it is also time for our way-too-early predictions for the coming year. We imagine the 49ers would have similar results to a year ago, when they went 12-5 and claimed the No. 1 seed.

Here’s a look at the schedule ahead, with a score prediction for each match:

Aaron Rodgers’ Jets debut a year ago on “Monday Night Football” was a much-hyped occasion. Then it all ended after four games when he went down with a torn left Achilles.

Rodgers suffered the season-ending injury when Leonard Floyd sacked him. Floyd is now with the 49ers, who expect to get more production from him than from anyone who faced Nick Bosa last season.

This is also when the Brock Purdy Gets Paid Tour begins. This is Purdy’s last year playing for minimum salary, because if he performs like his spectacular 2023 season, he expects to become one of the NFL’s highest-paid quarterbacks.

Prediction: 49ers 24, Jets 13

Week 2: in MinnesotaSunday, September 15, 10am PT (CBS)

The Vikings signed Sam Darnold, the 49ers’ backup last season, to a one-year contract worth $10 million to serve as the team’s starter until someone better comes along. How long before JJ McCarthy, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, is considered better than Darnold?

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The 49ers haven’t won a game in Minneapolis since 1992 and carry a seven-game losing streak to the Vikings into this meeting. That series will end here.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Vikings 13

Week 3: at LA RamsSunday, September 22, 1:25 PM PT (FOX)

Jon Feliciano was a happy man on March 15 for two reasons, as the veteran 49ers guard commented on social media: “Best day ever!! I will stay in SF and AD will retire.” That’s right: On the day Feliciano re-signed for another season with the 49ers, Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald announced his retirement.

This is the first meeting between these teams post-Donald, and it will take place at SoFi Stadium, the 49ers’ home away from home. The Rams were 10-7 and a playoff team a year ago, but can they overcome the loss of one of the best defensive linemen in NFL history?

Prediction: 49ers 24, Rams 21

Week 4: vs. New EnglandSunday, September 29, 1:05 PM PT (FOX)

If it’s not Drake Maye, the third overall pick in the draft, it will most likely be Jacoby Brissett (or Bailey Zappe) at quarterback for New England.

It does not matter. The 49ers should be able to roll out of bed and win this game in the first post-Bill Belichick meeting between these organizations.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Patriots 10

Week 5: vs. ArizonaSunday, October 6, 1:05 PM PT (FOX)

The Cardinals received rave reviews from draft gurus for their collection of rookies, including wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., edge rusher Darius Robinson and defensive back Max Melton. Arizona had seven picks within the first 90 selections in the draft, so it may take some time to get all the newcomers together.

The 49ers defeated Arizona 80-45 in their two meetings a year ago. This season, coach Jonathan Gannon’s team should be a lot more competitive.

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Prediction: 49ers 28, Cardinals 23

Week 6: in SeattleThursday, October 10, 5:15 PM PT (Prime Video)

It just won’t be the same without the gum-chewing, white sneaker-wearing Pete Carroll on the Seahawks’ sidelines.

New Seattle coach Mike Macdonald is 36 years old and has risen quickly through the NFL coaching ranks. He comes from the Baltimore Ravens, and everyone remembers the fits his defense gave Purdy last season. Purdy threw a career-high four interceptions in the Ravens’ blowout win on Christmas night.

Prediction: Seahawks 17, 49ers 13

Week 7: vs. Kansas CitySunday, October 20, 1:25 PM PT (FOX)

This is a rematch of Super Bowl LVIII. Will it be a preview of Super Bowl LIX? (That’s 59, in case you’re not up to speed on your Roman numerals yet.) Tom Brady will be in the broadcast booth for this game, and that’s a lot of negative Super Bowl mojo for 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have two come-from-behind Super Bowl wins and a three-touchdown win in Santa Clara during the 2022 regular season in the past three head-to-head games.

The 49ers’ selection of wide receiver Ricky Pearsall in the first round was a direct result of them needing to improve against teams, like the Chiefs, who play sticky man coverage. But Kansas City has San Francisco’s number, so it’s tough to compete against the champs in this spot.

Prediction: Chiefs 24, 49ers 21

Week 8: vs. DallasSunday, October 27, 5:20 PM PT (NBC)

Remember how the 49ers embarrassed the Cowboys last season? They won 42-10 and rubbed Dallas’ noses in the process. George Kittle wore an undershirt with a NSFW message directed at the Cowboys organization.

The Cowboys will certainly be out for revenge. But does it even matter? For a team with a lot of talent and expectations, Dallas seems to consistently underperform. We provide more of the same in this game.

Prediction: 49ers 34, Cowboys 20

Week 9: Bye week

This marks the third straight season in which the 49ers’ bye week falls the week after their eighth game.

Week 10: at Tampa BaySunday, November 10, 10am PT (FOX)

Baker Mayfield earned the Bucs’ starting job and a three-year contract worth $100 million with his performance last season. Tampa Bay won the NFC South and defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs before falling to the Lions.

Bosa and the 49ers defense have given Mayfield some problems over the years, and they will come after him again on this day.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Buccaneers 17

Week 11: vs. SeattleSunday, November 17, 1:05 PM PT (FOX)

After facing a new-look Seahawks earlier this season, the 49ers should be able to figure things out, avenge the short-week loss and maintain control of the NFC West before their most challenging two-game stretch of the season.

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Prediction: 49ers 24, Seahawks 13

Week 12: in Green BaySunday, November 24, 1:25 PM PT (FOX)

The Packers had their sights set on taking down the NFC’s No. 1 seed last season, just as the 49ers did to Green Bay in the 2021 playoffs when these teams met at Levi’s Stadium. Jordan Love is a talented player, but he threw two costly interceptions in the second half and the 49ers avoided an upset in the divisional round.

Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who came up with these interceptions against Love, should be back in this game and close to midseason form after suffering a torn left Achilles in the Super Bowl. He expects to open the season on the PUP list.

Prediction: Packers 24, 49ers 20

Week 13: at BuffaloSunday, December 1, 5:20 PM PT (NBC)

This game was made for primetime.

Growing up in the Central Valley town of Firebaugh, Bills quarterback Josh Allen dreamed of playing for the 49ers. Well, he was a nightmare for them in 2020, when he faced his youth team and threw for 375 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-24 win.

When Allen is playing, he can be virtually unstoppable. Other times he can make some dazzling plays that open the door for the opposition. He’s never boring, that’s for sure.

Prediction: Bills 31, 49ers 24

Week 14: vs. ChicagoSunday, December 8, 1:25 PM PT (FOX)

This is another matchup between the No. 1 overall pick and the last pick in the draft. We’ve seen this storyline several times before, but now it’s someone new. Quarterback Caleb Williams was the Bears’ first pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, replacing Justin Fields.

Have the Bears finally found their answer at quarterback? New 49ers defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen can show off his cunning and play-calling skills from the sidelines of Levi’s Stadium to make life difficult for the rookie.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Bears 9

Week 15: vs. LA RamsThursday, December 12, 5:15 PM PT (Prime Video)

The Rams had their first real draft in a long time, and the younger players will become more comfortable and productive as the season progresses. Rookies Jared Verse and Braden Fiske won’t make up for Donald’s departure, but they will help LA’s defense stay competitive.

But where the Rams could struggle is on the other side… if everyone stays healthy. Matthew Stafford throwing to Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua creates problems for any defense.

Prediction: Rams 27, 49ers 23

Week 16: in MiamiSunday, December 22, 1:25 PM PT (CBS)

Mike McDaniel’s team is built on speed. The Dolphins can be electric on offense. But they can also be crushed by sheer physicality.

That’s what the 49ers excel at, and that’s why Shanahan will have the upper hand against his student in this matchup.

Prediction: 49ers 35, Dolphins 30

Week 17: vs. DetroitMonday, December 30, 5:15 PM PT (ESPN)

This time, it won’t come down to a few failed fourth downs in Detroit to open the door for a huge comeback win in San Francisco. Jared Goff, the new $53 million-a-year QB, will make his share of plays, but the 49ers’ firepower will simply be too much.

The Lions will take a step back this season, instead of using their crushing NFC Championship Game loss to the 49ers as a springboard for bigger things to come.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Lions 21

Week 18: in ArizonaSaturday January 4 or Sunday January 5, time to be determined

The Cardinals finished last season with a 4-13 record. They will be improved and have more than four wins at this point. But they still won’t be able to break through against the 49ers, as Arizona native Purdy will have another big day (that is, if he takes the field with the playoffs looming).

Prediction: 49ers 27, Cardinals 13

Final record: 12-5, first place in the NFC West

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