The San Francisco 49ers have been a popular darkhorse pick the last couple years, but it’s put up or shut up time now for head coach Mike Singletary’s squad. Singletary has anointed Alex Smith the unquestioned starter at QB this season, and he already has the second-most snaps under center in the division behind Seattle’s Matt Hasselbeck. With Arizona’s Kurt Warner retired, this seems to finally be the year for the 49ers to strike gold and return to the playoffs.
Odds to win NFC West Division: -110
Odds to win the NFC Conference: 12/1
San Francisco 49ers Odds to win Super Bowl XLV: 25/1
Regular Season Wins Total Line: 8.5
*all odds quoted from Bodog*
Here’s a breakdown of San Francisco’s schedule as the 49ers go for the NFC West crown:
Week 1 Sunday, September 12, 2010 @ Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: The season does not start easily for the 49ers, who will be playing one of the NFL’s toughest road teams before returning home for a Monday Night Football matchup against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Week 2 Monday, September 20, 2010 vs. New Orleans Saints
Analysis: This will be the second straight prime-time television game in as many weeks for the Saints, who will have 11 days to prepare for San Francisco after hosting Minnesota in the season opener.
Week 3 Sunday, September 26, 2010 @ Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: The 49ers were just 2-6 on the road last season and will need to win at least one of the next two away from home in order to prove they are a legitimate playoff contender.
Week 4 Sunday, October 3, 2010 @ Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: The Falcons will be coming off a divisional road game at New Orleans and must head to the road for their next two games after hosting San Francisco.
Week 5 Sunday, October 10, 2010 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: Singletary will have the 49ers prepared for new Eagles QB Kevin Kolb, as there will be plenty of film to study by this point, including two road games at Detroit and Jacksonville.
Week 6 Sunday, October 17, 2010 vs. Oakland Raiders
Analysis: This is a must-win for the 49ers in the Battle of the Bay with a goal of winning at least three straight before their bye week closes the first half of the season.
Week 7 Sunday, October 24, 2010 @ Carolina Panthers
Analysis: The Panthers will be coming off their bye week following an emotional home game against their former All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers.
Week 8 Sunday, October 31, 2010 vs. Denver Broncos
Analysis: The young Broncos will be playing on the road for the first time in three weeks while San Francisco looks to finish the first half strong against their third opponent from the AFC West.
Week 9 — BYE WEEK —
Week 10 Sunday, November 14, 2010 vs. St. Louis Rams
Analysis: A positive finish to the first half of the season for the 49ers should be extended here with the first of consecutive home games against teams that finished a combined 4-28 last year.
Week 11 Sunday, November 21, 2010 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Analysis: The Bucs actually won more road games than home games last season, including a 20-17 overtime victory at New Orleans in Week 16.
Week 12 Monday, November 29, 2010 @ Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: San Francisco begins a grueling stretch of four road games in five weeks after the soft part of the schedule (playing five straight non-playoff teams) and could be a bit over-confident heading into this important divisional game.
Week 13 Sunday, December 5, 2010 @ Green Bay Packers
Analysis: The 49ers play at Lambeau for the second straight year and hope to get off to a better start this time around after trailing 23-3 at halftime.
Week 14 Sunday, December 12, 2010 vs. Seattle Seahawks
Analysis: San Francisco plays NFC West foes in three of the last four games, starting with this rematch against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks.
Week 15 Thursday, December 16, 2010 @ San Diego Chargers
Analysis: The 49ers will avoid playing in cold weather the last three weeks of the season but have to face the Chargers in their home finale on prime-time television.
Week 16 Sunday, December 26, 2010 @ St. Louis Rams
Analysis: The Rams will be playing their home finale and hope rookie QB Sam Bradford is still healthy at this point of the season assuming he has been tabbed the starter.
Week 17 Sunday, January 2, 2011 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: A fitting way to end the season for the 49ers, who have been swept by the Cardinals the last two even-numbered years but won both meetings a year ago.