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Schedule Break Down Part 1 of 6
April 11 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
The 49ers open the season on the first Thursday night Kickoff game ever. Visiting the New York Giants, it will be the first of a minimum of five nationally televised events the 49ers will take place in this coming season. The game is also the first of a series that includes the Broncos and Redskins that will immediately provide a measuring stick for the 49ers. No longer do the 49ers face off against much lesser opponents like the Panthers and Falcons.

The Giants and their devastating defense will be a huge test of the 49ers. Coming off a playoff season, the Giants have a knack for disrupting high profile offenses. With the 49ers returning at least 10 out of 11 starters to the offense next season, this game will give the 49ers an immediate evaluation of where the team stands. Protecting Jeff Garcia will be key in this game. It's a great way for the NFL to start a new tradition with the Thursday night opener - and it's great the 49ers one of the most storied franchises in the NFL are able to partake in the start of said tradition.

The Broncos had a devastating season last year. They didn't even come close to matching the expectations the team had. But this season, they team returns healthy, and that in alone should be a big boost. This game should test the 49ers defense. Brian Griese and his potent arm will test the 49ers, and in this game we should get a rather realistic idea of how the 49ers have improved their defense. The Broncos are sure to attempt to exploit it in a similar manner to what Green Bay did in the playoffs - this game should show us how far Jim Mora has taken his squad.

The 49ers third game of the season, versus the Redskins, should be an extremely interesting one. The 'Skins are guided by a new coach now - Steve Spurrier, and offensive wizard, and an all around great coach. A team that has always had some talent on their roster, Spurrier will have his team ready for this one. A lesser opponent - maybe, but with a new coach, a new year, this game will allow the 49ers to judge themselves on keeping their heads together, and not letting outside interruptions - such as last season's records, dictate how they play.

The 49ers first three games will provide the team with a measuring stick for the season. Playing three entirely competent and different teams, the 49ers will have to get off to a quick start, the season off in a winning way.

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