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San Francisco 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith, #11, runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter of the NFC divisional playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Calif. San Francisco defeated New Orleans 36-32. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

Coming off their first playoff run in nine seasons, the 49ers are ready for prime-time television, at least according to Tuesday's release of the NFL regular-season schedule.

The 49ers drew a maximum five prime-time games, their most since 1999 when they also drew five such assignments.

"Everybody likes to play prime-time games and have that exposure and pressure that comes with those games," left tackle Joe Staley told 95.7 The Game. "After last year, I think we'll have an opportunity to showcase our team to a national audience this year."

The 49ers' season opener should offer a national allure, too: a Sept. 9 matinee at the Green Bay Packers' fabled Lambeau Field. Only once in the 49ers' 62-year history have they opened a season there, winning 26-14 in 1976.

Rematches with last season's two playoff foes are on the 49ers' docket, and neither game is in prime time.

Looking to avenge their NFC Championship game defeat, the 49ers will host the New York Giants on Oct. 14 at 1:15 p.m. The 49ers will visit the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 25 at 1:15 p.m. The Saints will be without coach Sean Payton, who's suspended because of a bounty scandal that included orders to injure 49ers in a divisional-playoff game ultimately won by the 49ers 36-32.

Of the 49ers' five prime-time games, the first comes in their home opener against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Sept. 16 at 5:20 p.m. The draw: Last season's heated matchup that resulted in a 25-19 comeback win by the 49ers and a postgame confrontation between 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz.


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The 49ers' other slated Sunday night game (pending any flex-schedule switch) features a Dec. 16 visit to the New England Patriots, who lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Of the three other prime-time games, two are at home against the Seattle Seahawks (Thursday, Oct. 18, NFL Network) and Chicago Bears (Monday, Nov. 19, ESPN) while the other is a visit to the Arizona Cardinals (Monday, Oct. 29, ESPN).

Last season's 13-3 breakthrough under Harbaugh included only two prime-time affairs: a Thanksgiving night loss at Baltimore, and a "Monday Night Football" win over the Pittsburgh Steelers marred by two blackouts at Candlestick Park on Dec. 19.

The 49ers averaged 2.1 prime-time games per season in the previous decade. Their landmark 1981 team had no-prime-time kickoffs en route to the franchise's first Super Bowl title. What followed, however, were at least three prime-time games each season from 1982-99.

Three times this coming season, the 49ers will play back-to-back road games, including visits in Weeks 3 and 4 to the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets. That could set the stage for another Youngstown, Ohio layover like last season, when the 49ers spent five days there between games in Weeks 3 and 4 at Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

  • The 49ers' exhibition season features: Aug. 10 at home against the Minnesota Vikings (6 p.m.; CBS-5), Aug. 18 at the Houston Texans (5 p.m., CBS-5), Aug. 26 at the Denver Broncos (1 p.m., Fox) and Sept. 1 at home against the San Diego Chargers (7:05 p.m.; CBS-5).

  • Linebacker Larry Grant has signed the one-year, $1.26 million contract he was tendered as a restricted free agent. Wide receiver Brett Swain also signed a one-year deal, the club announced.

    Here is the 49ers' regular-season schedule

    Date          Opponent          Day/Time          TV

    Sept. 9           at Green Bay          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Sept. 16          vs. Detroit Lions          Sunday, 5:20 p.m.          NBC

    Sept. 23          at Minnesota Vikings          Sunday, 10 a.m.          Fox

    Sept. 30          at New York Jets          Sunday, 10 a.m.          Fox

    Oct. 7           vs. Buffalo Bills          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          CBS

    Oct. 14          vs. New York Giants          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Oct. 18          vs. Seattle Seahawks          Thursday, 5:20 p.m.          NFLN

    Oct. 29          at Arizona Cardinals          Monday, 5:30 p.m.          ESPN

    Nov. 4          Bye

    Nov. 11          vs. St. Louis Rams          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Nov. 19          vs. Chicago Bears          Monday, 5:30 p.m.          ESPN

    Nov. 25          at New Orleans Saints          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Dec. 2          at St. Louis Rams          Sunday, 10 a.m.          Fox

    Dec. 9          vs. Miami Dolphins          Sunday, 1:05 p.m.          CBS

    Dec. 16          at New England Patriots          Sunday, 5:20 p.m.          NBC

    Dec. 23          at Seattle Seahawks          Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Dec. 30          vs. Arizona Cardinals Sunday, 1:15 p.m.          Fox

    Here is the 49ers' exhibition schedule:

    Aug. 10          vs. Minnesota Vikings          Friday, 6 p.m. (CBS-5)

    Aug. 18          at Houston Texans          Saturday, 5 p.m. (CBS-5)

    Aug. 26          at Denver Broncos          Sunday, 1 p.m. (Fox)

    Sept. 1          vs. San Diego Chargers          Thurs., 7:05 p.m. (CBS-5)