Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and a five-game winning streak have made the 49ers, who had just one nationally televised game last year, a prime-time darling in 2018.
San Francisco will have five games in prime time this season, including in Week 9 against the Raiders at Levi's Stadium. The teams' most recent game was in Oakland in 2014, a 24-13 win for the Raiders. Their annual preseason contests were suspended following a 2011 game at Candlestick Park that erupted in fan violence.
The five prime-time contests are the most the 49ers have had since 2014 when they were coming off three straight seasons in which they made it to at least the conference championship game.
After playing the Raiders, the 49ers have a "Monday Night Football" game against the New York Giants at Levi's Stadium. San Francisco also will play a Monday game in Green Bay – Garoppolo vs. the quarterback he often is compared to, Aaron Rodgers – on Oct. 15.
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The other two nationally televised games are Sunday night affairs against division opponents, Week 7 vs. the Los Angeles Rams and Week 13 at the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers will play four of their first six games on the road, beginning with a trip to play the Minnesota Vikings.
That means running back Jerick McKinnon's first real outing with the 49ers will be against his former team. The matchup also will feature a pair of high-priced quarterbacks, Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins, whom the 49ers and coach Kyle Shanahan would have pursued in free agency this year if they hadn't acquired Garoppolo in October.
The result of a road-heavy schedule early is that the 49ers will be home for three straight weeks in December before their finale against the Rams in Los Angeles.
The month of November also looks advantageous. The team has its bye on Nov. 18. Earlier in the month, their Thursday game is followed by a Monday game, meaning there are 11 days in between. A rough stretch, however starts at the end of November when the 49ers go on their longest trip, to Tampa, followed by a road game against the Seahawks. The 49ers and Seahawks will face each other twice in three weeks.
East Coast fans weary over games that last late into the night might be happy that prime time will start earlier this year. "Monday Night Football" contests, which kicked off at 5:30 p.m. (Pacific) last season, will start at 5:15 p.m. this year. Sunday night games begin at 5:20 p.m. – up from 5:30 p.m. – while Thursday games move from 5:25 p.m. to 5:20 p.m.
Last year the 49ers traveled 24,092 miles, the ninth most in the NFL. With only one game in the Eastern time zone this year – against Tampa Bay – the team will travel roughly 18,300 miles.
Week 1, Sept. 9
at Minnesota Vikings, 10 a.m.
Week 2, Sept. 16
vs. Detroit Lions, 1:05 p.m.
Week 3, Sept. 23
at Kansas City Chiefs, 10 a.m.
Week 4, Sept. 30
at Los Angeles Chargers, 1:25 p.m.
Week 5, Oct. 7
vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:25 p.m.
Week 6, Oct. 15
at Green Bay Packers, 5:15 p.m.
Week 7, Oct. 21
vs. Los Angeles Rams, 5:20 p.m.
Week 8, Oct. 28
at Arizona Cardinals, 1:25 p.m.
Week 9, Nov. 1
vs. Oakland Raiders, 5:20 p.m.
Week 10, Nov. 12
New York Giants, 5:15 p.m.
Week 11, Nov. 18
Week 12, Nov. 25
at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 10 a.m.
Week 13, Dec. 2
at Seattle, 5:20 p.m.
Week 14, Dec. 9
vs. Denver Broncos, 1:05 p.m.
Week 15, Dec. 16
vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1:05 p.m.
Week 16, Dec. 23
vs. Chicago Bears, 1:05 p.m.
Week 17, Dec. 30
at Los Angeles Rams, 1:25 p.m.