SANTA CLARA — Not a must-win game for the 49ers, but close.
They open the regular season Sunday in Tampa against one of the weakest teams on their schedule, the Buccaneers. The following week, the 49ers will play the Bengals in Cincinnati, which will be the 49ers’ second straight game in the Eastern time zone — a brutal task for a West Coast team. And Week 3, they will play their home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best teams in the AFC.
After that, the 49ers’ schedule only becomes more difficult. A win Sunday would make their path to the playoffs much easier.
Here are five things the 49ers must do to beat the Bucs.