It’s entirely too early for predictions.
The Middle of May is basically no man’s land in the NFL offseason. Rookie minicamps have wrapped, on-field OTAs haven’t started, and we’re still a month out from any mandatory offseason work. The draft is done. Free agency is mostly finished, and now the guessing games begin.
That’s what all preseason forecasting is, really. It’s making guesses based on analysis that’s typically too optimistic or too pessimistic. The problem with predictions this early is that injuries can change things. Trades can change things (shoutout to Baker Mayfield and/or Jimmy Garoppolo). Even one or two dominant rookies can tip the scales (shoutout to Ja’Marr Chase).
All that being said, the NFL schedule was released last week and officially paved the way for a season prediction – however haphazard – to be made. So we made one.
We went through game-by-game on the 49ers’ 2022 schedule to try to predict the winner and the score of each contest. We’re assuming good health and, for the 49ers’ purposes, that Trey Lance is the team’s Week 1 starter.
With full acknowledgment that even one of these scores being close would be a small miracle, here is our rough draft edition of the 49ers’ 2022 game-by-game predictions:
The Bears are a fascinating team, but they’re just not as talented as the 49ers and they’re rolling in with a first-time head coach. Trey Lance should be good enough to snag a win, assuming he’s the Week 1 starter. 49ers 20, Bears 18
This will be the true test of whether it was Pete Carroll or Russell Wilson who owned the 49ers for the last decade. 49ers 23, Seahawks 16
Russell Wilson at home in prime time against the 49ers … what could go wrong? Broncos 28, 49ers 20
An NFC championship rematch in what would be Lance’s first Monday Night Football game. We’ll learn a lot about the 2022 49ers here, but it’s easy to see them faltering early on. Rams 34, 49ers 23
Monday Night Football into an East Coast road game is tough, but luckily for the 49ers the Panthers will probably not be very good. 49ers 34, Panthers 17
This will be another key point of the year. If they get a win in Week 5 then cap a two-game East Coast swing with another W, it’d be a good sign for their direction heading into the end of the first half. The Falcons are a favorable opponent in this spot, especially since there could be a little bit of a QB carousel going on. 49ers 38, Falcons 24
A doozy at Levi’s Stadium! The 49ers should be good, but the Chiefs are a potential juggernaut. Keeping this one tight would be a good sign. Chiefs 33, 49ers 24
Assuming the 49ers are 4-3 going into this one, it could determine how the rest of their season goes since they’ll be rolling into the bye. Perhaps San Francisco wasn’t good enough to beat LA early in the year, but by this point they should be able to squeeze out a divisional victory vs. a good team. 49ers 24, Rams 21
Going into the bye with a 5-3 record would be massive for the 49ers since they have a slew of tough games in the second half. A Week 8 win over LA to stay above .500 would get some buzz going about this club as they start a playoff push.
Getting this one at home, coming off a bye, is big. LA is in Atlanta the week before this one, which is an added advantage for San Francisco. 49ers 27, Chargers 25
Going to Mexico City against what should be a dangerous Cardinals team won’t be easy. A slip up here after a tight win over the Chargers wouldn’t be a shock. Cardinals 30, 49ers 20
The Saints defense is good, and head coach Dennis Allen should have some wrinkles to throw at Lance that stymie the 49ers offense in an upset win for New Orleans. Saints: 20, 49ers 13
Consecutive losses puts Miami in a tough spot on a West Coast trip, and the 49ers aren’t going to overlook them despite Tom Brady and the Buccaneers looming. 49ers 30, Dolphins 28
Tampa Bay is another really well-coached team that should be able to throw enough wrinkles at the 49ers offense to keep them at bay. Assuming Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, they’ll rack up enough points to keep San Francisco from stealing one. Bucs 24, 49ers 17
A Thursday Night Football game on the road isn’t going to be easy, but the 49ers owe the Seahawks a couple losses. Seattle may just be playing out the string at this point and the 49ers will be battling for their playoff lives. 49ers 30, Seahawks 17
It’ll be a short week for Washington with the Christmas Eve kickoff on a Saturday. The 49ers, if they’re actually 8-6 at this point and playing well, should roll. 49ers 28, Commanders 18
A New Year’s Day game in Las Vegas against a Raiders team that should be significantly improved. This has the feel of a game that gets away from the 49ers a little bit even if they are the better team. Raiders 30, 49ers 21
The Cardinals will enter Levi’s Stadium and get a very different 49ers team than the one they ran into in Mexico City. San Francisco may need a win to clinch a playoff spot, and by this point they should be good enough to squeeze out a much-needed win. 49ers 31, Cardinals 28