49ers' grueling remaining schedule is NFL's hardest by far


Once the 49ers' schedule was released in May, it was easy to see that they faced a difficult stretch from Week 6 until the end of the season.

They couldn't have known it would be this hard.

After starting just 2-3 through five weeks, the 49ers now face the NFL's most difficult schedule the rest of the way. San Francisco's remaining opponents currently have a combined winning percentage of .698, according to Tankathon.

Matchups with the Washington Football Team and the Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys could provide a brief break, but every other team the 49ers will play the rest of the regular season is, as of this writing, no worse than 2-2.

If you remove Washington and Dallas, San Francisco's remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .758. For reference, the next closest team -- the Houston Texans -- play teams with a combined winning percentage of .630.

Oh, and that 2-2 team? It's the New England Patriots, and quarterback Cam Newton -- the 2015 NFL MVP -- should be healthy by the time the teams play in Foxboro, Massachusetts in Week 7.

When NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Jeff Garcia said the 49ers could go 4-12, he did so with good reason.

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If the 49ers are (mostly) unscathed after a gauntlet that includes the Los Angeles Rams (twice), Patriots, Seattle Seahawks (twice), Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals, concerns about consecutive losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins will be distant memories. Remaining in contention -- let alone making the playoffs -- with that schedule, and amid the 49ers' rash of injuries, would make Shanahan a clear Coach of the Year contender. 

The 49ers can't say this stretch of the season caught them by surprise, but that won't make navigating it any easier.

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