How NFL schedulers gave 49ers unfair disadvantage this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
There is a definite advantage in an NFL team having a bye week, but the 49ers are not getting the full benefit that others have received this season.
Players reported for Monday’s practice after their last game took place six days prior, a 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The team that had the exact same period of time off is the 49ers’ Week 10 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Through nine games, the 49ers have had the disadvantage of playing twice against opponents that benefited from a week off before the contest. The Cleveland Browns' bye came in Week 5 and the next week, they hosted a 49ers team that also had to travel east for the contest.
Two weeks later, the 49ers hosted the well-rested Bengals right after Cincinnati's Week 7 bye. Both games were losses for the 49ers, who clearly did not have the upper hand in regards to player recovery time and preparation.
Instead of finally having the advantage of being more rested than their opponent in Week 10, the 49ers not only play a team that has had the same time off, but they will be traveling to the east coast again to do it.
The NFL scheduling team has the difficult job of creating an 18-week schedule for 32 teams that now includes a full slate of Thursday night games, as well as three games on Thanksgiving Day. This is where the 49ers again drew the short stick.
There are a few teams that play twice on Thursday night in 2023, and the 49ers are one of them. Playing on Thursday creates a very shortened work week for a team’s preparation and their recovery. The 49ers played their first "Thursday Night Football" game in Week 3 and will do so again on Thanksgiving night in Seattle against the Seahawks.
Not only are the 49ers again the team that travels to their second Thursday matchup, but two of the other teams that are scheduled for two TNF games play their second after a full week of preparation and rest.
The Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys have their second TNF game the week following their Thanksgiving Day games. This gives them a regular week between contests as opposed to two games with a short week before the second.
There are four other teams that are scheduled to play two Thursday games — the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders, who all play on Thanksgiving, and the New York Jets, who have shortened week prior to their Black Friday game and the last Thursday night game in Week 18.
The 49ers head into their post-bye-week game rested -- and expecting Deebo Samuel to return after missing two games with a shoulder injury -- but not with all the usual advantages of having a week off. While there is no way to make the NFL schedule completely fair, it seems the 49ers’ opponents have had the upper hand in more ways than one.