Deebo Samuel

49ers finally have schedule advantage entering Sunday's Eagles clash

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The 49ers have endured the most significant schedule disadvantage during the 2023 NFL season, but on Sunday, they finally will be the beneficiary of more rest.

San Francisco's Week 13 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday will be the 49ers' second and final game with a rest advantage through all 17 games. Their Week 4 win over the Arizona Cardinals followed a few extra days of rest after a 30-12 win over the New York Giants on "Thursday Night Football" the previous week.

The 49ers' second Thursday night game, a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving, allows them to head into Philadelphia with a few more days of rest than the Eagles. This could be an even more notable advantage after Philadelphia's defense was on the field for a whopping 92 snaps Sunday in their overtime win over the Buffalo Bills.

The extra rest the 49ers enjoyed after returning home from the Pacific Northwest is an anomaly for them but not for their opponents. San Francisco's 2023 schedule has included or will include four games against opponents coming off their bye week: Week 6 (vs. Cleveland Browns), Week 8 (vs. Cincinnati Bengals), Week 10 (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars) and Week 15 (vs. Arizona Cardinals). All except for Week 8 are away games, in which the 49ers must travel, in addition to the rest disadvantage.

The schedule doesn't become any easier for the 49ers after they return from Philadelphia, as they will host on Sunday a more rested Seahawks team that will have played on Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13.

In Week 16, the 49ers will have a short week after their "Monday Night Football" contest with the Baltimore Ravens at Levi's Stadium on Christmas. The following week, the 49ers again will head across the country to play the Washington Commanders on New Year's Eve in a game that's scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. PT.

An article by Sharp Football Analysis, written after the NFL schedule release at the end of May mapped out the disparity between all 32 NFL teams and the amount of rest they would receive. Their formula shows the 49ers have a league-high 20 days of rest disadvantage, making their schedule the most challenging. In contrast, the Commanders, New York Jets and Chicago Bears have the most considerable advantage when considering player rest, with 12 more days than their opponents.

More factors other than schedule influence a team's success, but it makes a difference. Short weeks can keep a player who's dealing with an injury from being able to suit up for a game, as the 49ers saw with offensive lineman Spencer Burford in Week 12 and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk in Week 3 -- both Thursday night contests.

So, the 49ers have more rest in their favor as they head to Philadelphia, but they'll need more than that to take down the NFC's No. 1 seed. The locker room and coaching staff are well aware of the task at hand, and while San Francisco took advantage of the extra three days off, it's relying on other things to leave the East Coast with a Week 13 win.

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