SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.
As has become tradition, the 49ers will have five prime-time games in 2023. But in this, the first year in which teams can have multiple Thursday night matchups, the Niners are one of the teams that will be a part of that experiment, with a Week 3 game against the New York Giants at home and a Thanksgiving night meeting at the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco will also play on Monday twice, with a visit to Minnesota in Week 7 and a home game on Christmas against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16.
That means a couple of tight turnarounds but also a couple of extra mini-byes to go along with their Week 9 bye, which could be beneficial down the home stretch for a team expected to again contend for a Super Bowl appearance.
Here's what's in store for the 49ers:
Sept. 10: at Pittsburgh
Sept. 17: at Los Angeles Rams
Sept. 21: vs. New York Giants (TNF)
Oct. 1: vs. Arizona
Oct. 8: vs. Dallas (SNF)
Oct. 15: at Cleveland
Oct. 23: at Minnesota (MNF)
Oct. 29: vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 5: BYE
Nov. 12: at Jacksonville
Nov. 19: vs. Tampa Bay
Nov. 23: at Seattle (TNF)
Dec. 3: at Philadelphia
Dec. 10: vs. Seattle
Dec. 17: at Arizona
Dec. 25: vs. Baltimore (MNF)
Dec. 31: at Washington
Jan. 6 or 7: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Strength of schedule: 0.515 (15th toughest)
The 49ers will travel the second-most miles in the league this year, trailing only the Seahawks, but they don't have many obvious spots for the week-long stays out east that they have done in recent seasons. The only real option for that is Week 6 and 7, when they play at Cleveland followed by Minnesota. But that Vikings game is on a Monday, so it's possible the 49ers could go back and forth with the extra day off. Otherwise, the schedule shapes up nicely, with no particularly daunting stretches aside from a three-game run against Seattle, Philadelphia and Seattle again in Weeks 12-14. But the Niners won't mind having a few extra days off after the trip to Seattle before having to go to Philadelphia.
It doesn't get any more revenge-y than the Week 13 NFC championship rematch against the Eagles. No, the Niners won't be able to atone for their 31-7 loss in Philadelphia, but they're eager to get another shot at the Eagles with what they hope will be a healthy quarterback or two in tow. San Francisco hasn't shied away from the idea that it didn't get a fair shot to beat the Eagles because it lost starting signal-caller Brock Purdy to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right throwing elbow, and backup Josh Johnson early in the second half with a concussion.
Nobody knows how that game might have turned out if the 49ers had a healthy Purdy, but they'd like to at least get a better idea this time around in one of the most anticipated matchups of the season.
Purdy will start all 17 regular-season games. Since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017, the Niners have gone through an entire season with one starter only once (Jimmy Garoppolo in 2019). What's more, Purdy is coming off elbow surgery, which has left some wondering if he will even be back in time for Week 1.
But the Niners are confident in how Purdy's recovery is going, and it's possible for athletes returning from the repair with InternalBrace to be fully cleared as soon as five months post-surgery. All Purdy has to do after that is stay healthy and productive enough to hold down the job the whole season. It's a big ask, but the 49ers' faith in Purdy is real, and so long as they're winning, they'll keep rolling with their second-year signal-caller.