Predicting the first half of the 49ers 2023 regular season
Jul 5, 2023, 2:15 PM | Updated: 2:47 pm
It’s hard to believe that the 2023 NFL season is about a month away, yet here we are.
While the San Francisco 49ers and the rest of the league don’t begin training camp until the end of July, it’s never too early to look ahead at the regular season slate. The 49ers have a busy season ahead, becoming the second-most traveled team in the NFL for 2023. Starting their first two weeks on the road, the 49ers will travel to Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Minnesota before the team’s Week 9 bye. San Francisco will also play three of the team’s five primetime games in the first half of the season.
But how will coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad fare early on, is the real question.
Here’s a glimpse at how the first half of the regular season could go for the Red & Gold.
Week 1 @ Steelers
Score prediction: 24-17 Steelers
The 49ers have been known to get off to slow starts in past seasons, last year was a prime example. And while we can’t predict the weather, San Francisco losing to Pittsburgh on the road isn’t inconceivable by any means.
The Steelers under Mike Tomlin are always well-coached, organized and disciplined. And while the jury is still out on Kenny Pickett as a franchise quarterback, he’s at least good enough to win games.
All that spells let down for the visitors, especially with their own QB situation still up in the air.
Week 2 @ Rams
Score Prediction: 24-13 49ers
The second-best rivalry in the NFC West.
The Los Angeles Rams are coming up with a disappointing season after winning the Super Bowl in 2022. Now with Matthew Stafford back healthy, could this be a bounce-back year? Probably not.
LA’s defense is atrocious outside of Aaron Donald, having to ship off Jalen Ramsey and other top-end talent due to salary cap issues. The Rams also haven’t bolstered their offensive line much, with Joe Noteboom still playing left tackle. Basically, Sean McVay brought the same team back for another year, except, worse.
This is the first game where the 49ers’ superior defensive line will overpower a team, leading to many sacks on the night. San Francisco gets to head home 1-1 in their first road stand, not bad.
Week 3 vs Giants (TNF)
Score Prediction: 21-14 49ers
The first primetime clash for the Red & Gold sees them face the New York Giants on Thursday Night.
The Giants were one of the darlings of last season, making the playoffs in Brian Daboll’s first year in charge. Turning Daniel Jones into a confident and competent signal-caller was the big change for this franchise, earning himself a four-year, $160 million extension.
But now it’s time to back it up.
The problem here is their receiving core is still not up to most teams’ standards. Darren Waller is the best option and he’s a tight end on the wrong side of 30. But Daboll’s defense is still very scrappy and should cause issues for offenses next season.
Don’t be surprised if this game is closer than you think, with a slight edge going to the home side.
Week 4 vs Cardinals
Score Prediction: 27-10 49ers
No Kyler Murray, no real threat.
Week 5 vs Cowboys (SNF)
Score Prediction: 28-24 49ers
Get your popcorn ready, because 49ers vs Cowboys is always a treat.
The two famous foes will meet on Sunday Night Football for another installment, potentially foreshadowing another clash in the postseason. Last year, the 49ers defeated Dallas, 19-12, in the divisional round. It was a close contest where the Cowboys were up at the halfway point. That could follow suit this time around as well.
Dallas has added real pieces in cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Brandin Cooks that will help them win games this season. But so have the 49ers.
Ultimately, it’ll come down to execution and I trust Kyle Shanahan more than Mike McCarthy when it matters most. It’ll be a one-score game, but one San Francisco should win at Levi’s Stadium.
Week 6 @ Browns
Score Prediction: 27-17 Browns
Surprise surprise, the 49ers lose their second game of the season to the BROWNS?!?
Look, the Red & Gold have been known to have midseason lapses in years past, just last year they lost to a rebuilding Atlanta Falcons team on the road. This could be a similar scenario.
Cleveland has only added pieces to help Deshaun Watson return to Pro Bowl-caliber play, trading for Elijah Moore to round out the receiving core. Then on defense, Za’Darius Smith is now in the fold, making life hell opposite of Myles Garrett.
The Browns should be more competitive in 2023, surprising a few teams (including the 49ers) as they try and make the postseason.
Week 7 @ Vikings (MNF)
Score Prediction: 24-21 49ers
The third installment of primetime action for the Red & Gold sees them travel to Minnesota for Monday Night Football.
The Vikings have done a solid job this offseason, replacing Adam Thielen with rookie Jordan Addison, while also adding some much-needed secondary help. But have they done enough to beat the 49ers? Maybe.
Still, the Red & Gold have a dominant defensive front, that by this time in the season, will have fully gelled with one another. That bodes poorly for the Vikings, whose O-Line is middle of the pack at best.
San Francisco squeaks out a close win here to go 3-0 in primetime.
Week 8 vs Bengals
Score Prediction: 31-20 Bengals
Just like last season, the 49ers lose the game heading into the bye week.
In 2022, San Francisco faced the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs before the bye and got waxed, 44-23. This season they face the Bengals at home before the week off and could meet a similar fate.
Cincinnati is a complete team, spearheaded by Pro Bowl QB Joe Burrow. Entering Year 4, the LSU alum is hungry as ever to make a name for himself in the AFC hierarchy. While Patrick Mahomes is still the top dawg, Burrow isn’t far behind and this year should prove that.
Additionally, the Bengals have added stud left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., giving Burrow the best pocket he’s ever had in the NFL.
The 49ers are coming off another two-week road trip as they begin to feel the effects of the season wear on them. Desperate to get to the bye, the Red & Gold could get routed in this one.
On the bright side, 5-3 is not a bad spot to be at the halfway point of the season.