The 2014 49ers didn’t make it to the playoffs. Consequently, their 2015 schedule is not as good the 2014 version, TV-wise. Let’s take a look.
For starters, they’ll only have two national appearances on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, the NFL’s marquee showcase. That’s down from three last year. They’ll visit the Giants in Week 5 on October 11, and host the Bengals in Week 15, December 20th.
And that’s if they’re contenders. Under current flex scheduling rules, NBC is permitted to switch games beginning in Week 5. That means if the 49ers are competitive, NBC can add more of their contests. On the flip side, if they’re unexpectedly bad, these matchups can be replaced.
No such luck for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Its schedule is locked in stone. The 49ers will only make one appearance there, hosting the Vikings to kick the season off on September 14. This telecast marks the first Monday night contest at the new stadium, and the first time the 49ers have been part of ESPN’s opening-week doubleheader. By the way, this broadcast will also be available locally on channel 5.
The 49ers also have a Thursday kickoff on NFL Network and CBS. It’s on Week 7, October 22, hosting the Seahawks. One appearance on ESPN and one on the CBS/NFL Network combo equals last year’s totals.
But there’s reduction in the number of primary contests on Fox. Last season, they were featured in four 1:25 p.m. kickoffs, the contest it calls “America’s Game of the Week”. This year, there will only be two.
These include a Week 4 visit from the Packers on October 4, and a Week 11 matchup at the Seahawks on November 22. There will also be a 1:25 p.m. kickoff in Week 6 on October 18 when the Ravens come to town for a rematch of the 2013 Super Bowl, but it’ll be on CBS.
Another area where things have gotten worse for the 49ers: This year they have two 1:05 p.m. home starts, up from only one last year. They’re Week 9 hosting the Falcons on November 8, and Week 12 against the Cardinals on November 29.
1:05 starts are considered much less prestigious than 1:25, because it means you’re on the network without that week’s doubleheader, and the big national telecast at 1:25 p.m. is blacked out here.
When you add it all up, they have seven potential national appearances, down from nine last year. But when you consider the current state of the team compared to the start of last season, it certainly could have been worse.
Next time: The Raiders 2015 TV schedule. Get ready to hold your breath.