The 2022 NFL schedule is a day away from being released.
Soon it will be known exactly when the 49ers will face their opponents and how the schedule is structured. Two out of the past three seasons the 49ers have had to open the season consecutively on the road before coming home in Week 3. That isn't the most ideal kickoff for a schedule to be on the road like that, especially for Trey Lance.
So what is the ideal Week 1 matchup for the 49ers in 2022?
At home against a weak team away from primetime.
That is the ultimate soft landing debut for Lance as the full-time starter. The 49ers should be hoping with all fingers crossed that they can get an easy opponent or two to start their first two games. Kind of like last season when the 49ers faced the Lions and Eagles. Albeit they were on the road, but ultimately they were not fiersome opponents at the time.
Ideally, the 49ers would love to be facing a team such as the Commanders in Week 1 at home. And if it is on the road, then they will still be glad. Washington is not a good football team even with Carson Wentz. San Francisco could handle them fairly easily home or away. Another team that would make for a comfortable opener to the season is the Falcons. With Matt Ryan out and Marcus Mariota in, the Falcons have regressed. Their defense is hardly improved, which the 49ers will have a field day against.
If the 49ers have to face the Commanders and Falcons in the first two weeks of the season, then that will be perfect for Lance. Regardless of home or away, those are games that should not spook him and be a great kickstart to his first full season. Best part of all is those games are certain to be regular Sunday start times and not in primetime. The Commanders and Falcons are definitely not primetime worthy, so really the only detraction here is if the 49ers have to face them on the road.
What would become a difficult start is if the 49ers have to face the Rams or Buccaneers in primetime. The pressure on Lance entering Year 2 despite minimal experience is hefty because he is supposed to be more polished since he sat. Having him start his full-time journey against elite opponents with the entire nation watching will only make the pressure immense. Now, could he actually play fine and well if he does have to face those teams? Sure.
But it would be better to go against lesser teams so that Lance can get more tread. The 49ers can only play the schedule in front of them and will handle it accordingly with no complaints. Still, it would be a great benefit to them if they can get the Commanders and/or Falcons to start the season to build up Lance's confidence.