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Schedule Rundown
March 29th 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The NFL released its 2002 schedule on Thursday, and in so doing they officially gave the 49ers a huge honor. For the first time ever, the NFL will kick off its season on a Thursday. The 49ers have the honor of facing the Giants. The two soried franchises will square off, and start a NFL tradition. Along with the Thursday game, the 49ers have four other nationally televised games, including: a Monday night game versus Seattle, and another vs Philadelphia, a Saturday game Arizona in the second last week of the season, and a Sunday night game against the Rams to close out the season.

With a re-aligned NFC West, the 49ers will face the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks twice. They will also face long time rivals, the Packers, Cowboys and the Raiders. The 49ers schedule is loaded with excitement, and is tied for nationally televised games with the Raiders. Other benefits of the 2002 schedule include a drastic reduction in travel miles from 31,802 regular season miles last season compared to only 18,902 regular season miles. Unfortunately, the 49ers will play their first and last two games away.

The 49ers open the season with series of three games, the second two, versus Denver and Washington are at home. They have a bye in the fourth week of the season, which unfortunately comes quite early, but fortunately comes right before the team plays the Rams at home. The extra time off will help the team prepare for the toughest opponent on their schedule. It's in these first four games that the 49ers need to start off fast, because they can't afford to fall behind with two NFC West games in the next four matchups against Seattle, New Orleans, Arizona and Oakland. The next stretch of games, against Kansas City, San Diego, Philadelphia and Seattle will continue to provide a challenge or the team. The season wraps up against Dallas, Green Bay and with two key NFC West games against the Cardinals and Rams.

This season's schedule is drastically different than last seasons'. The 'tougher' games are much more spread out, and there isn't a significant lull time in the schedule. The 49ers seem to alternate weeks between extremely tough teams and moderately tough teams. Ending the season with two away games and against the Rams will be key in determining what if any standing the 49ers will have in the playoffs.

It's great to finally see the schedule out. I know that I'm excited, but it's clear the 49ers have a daunting task ahead of them - and repeating last season's success even with the consitency of players on the field, will be difficult.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

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