49ers shown no mercy in 2016 schedule

The league offices offered the struggling San Francisco 49ers no mercy heading into the 2016 season, as the beleaguered franchise got slapped with the toughest schedule in the league.

The 49ers opponents — which include all of the AFC East — have a combined winning percentage of .555 from last season, making it an uphill climb for new head coach Chip Kelly in his first year at the helm of the team.

San Francisco will also open up the year with a Monday night showcase against the new Los Angeles franchise at Levi’s Stadium.

The home-opener may have a little extra angst to it, as the Los Angeles Rams executed a blockbuster trade today to reportedly poach a top quarterback prospect away from the 49ers.

San Francisco’s schedule features four playoff teams, including a Week 2 matchup on the road against the Super Bowl runner-ups, the Carolina Panthers.

The 49ers battle against the East gets no easier when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots roll into Levi’s Stadium on November 20.

Throw in two matches a-piece against NFC West powerhouses Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, and the 49ers look hard pressed to improve on their 5-11 record from last year.

Below is a chronological list of 49ers opponents:

Week 1 – Monday, September 12 vs. Los Angeles – 7:20 p.m. PT on ESPN

Week 2 – Sunday, September 18 at Carolina – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX

Week 3 – Sunday, September 25 at Seattle – 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 4 – Sunday, October 2 vs. Dallas – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 5 – Thursday, October 6 vs. Arizona – 5:25 p.m. PT on CBS/NFLN/Twitter

Week 6 – Sunday, October 16 at Buffalo – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX

Week 7 – Sunday, October 23 vs. Tampa Bay – 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 8 – Sunday, October 30 – BYE

Week 9 – Sunday, November 6 vs. New Orleans – 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 10 – Sunday, November 13 at Arizona – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 11 – Sunday, November 20 vs. New England – 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

Week 12 – Sunday, November 27 at Miami – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX

Week 13 – Sunday, December 4 at Chicago – 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX

Week 14 – Sunday, December 11 vs. New York Jets – 1:05 p.m. PT on CBS

Week 15 – Sunday, December 18 at Atlanta – 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 16 – Saturday, December 24 at Los Angeles – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX

Week 17 – Sunday, January 1, 2017 vs. Seattle – 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX

The Week 8 bye comes two weeks earlier than last year’s, and marks the second time in the last three seasons the team has been given that particular week off.

The team was without RB Carlos Hyde and WR Anquan Boldin during Week Eight’s 27-6 loss to the then St. Louis Rams last year.

When the 49ers take their first trip to Southern California on Christmas Eve, it will be the team’s first trip to the Los Angeles Memorial California for the first time since September 16, 1979.

The bad news for 49ers fans is that 2016 might not offer them many chances to bask in victory. The good news is they might have another exciting draft position heading into 2017.

Shawn Whelchel is SFBay’s San Francisco 49ers beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShawnWhelchel on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of 49ers football.