Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a knee injury yesterday, and we await the final verdict on just how serious it is. The fear is that he is done for the year with at least one ligament tear. The San Francisco 49ers’ hopes for the 2018 season hang in the balance, but there’s another group that is also very invested in the news: the television networks.
The networks went all-in on the Garoppolo hype after the 49ers’ finish last year, and here’s how a five-week stretch from mid-October to mid-November looks for San Francisco’s schedule.
Week 6, at Green Bay, MNF
Week 7, vs. LA Rams, SNF
Week 8, at Arizona, FOX, 4:25 ET start
Week 9, vs. Oakland, TNF
Week 10, vs. NY Giants, MNF
That’s four primetime matchups scheduled over a five-week stretch, plus San Francisco playing in the late afternoon doubleheader window (though that week also has the Packers and Rams game). The only one of those primetime games that can be flexed out is the Sunday Night game against the Rams. While the Rams are an entertaining team and perhaps the best in the league, NBC has a dilemma of keeping a 49ers team that will be coming off a primetime showcase the previous week. The Chiefs and Patriots play the previous week on Sunday Night Football, so going to Kansas City vs. Cincinnati or New England vs. Chicago may not be in the cards. But the other possible options are either the Panthers vs. Eagles, or taking a chance on the electricity of Baker Mayfield and the Browns versus the current surprise team, the Buccaneers.
The 49ers are also scheduled for a Week 13 Sunday Night game against Seattle in December, which you can almost certainly expect to be flexed out for a different game. But even with that, the fall is going to feature a heavy dose of San Francisco in primetime. That might be a disaster if they play like they did before Garoppolo arrived last season.