Credit: Andrew Weber- US PRESSWIRE

Lions vs. 49ers: Niners In National Spotlight on Sunday Night Football

A funny thing happened after the 49ers went from being dormant for almost a decade, to winning their division and coming up a fumble short of a sixth Super Bowl appearance.  They will appear in a record five games in primetime this season, the most since 2002, when they played four games in the national spotlight.  The first of those five games in primetime this season will be on Sunday Night Football against the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park.

It is no secret the NFL awards winning teams more primetime games when they finish the previous season with a winning record and make the playoffs.  From 2003-2008, when the 49ers finished six seasons in a row with a losing record, they played on national TV a total of nine times.  From 2004-2006 and in 2008, the 49ers appeared in one game in primetime in each of those seasons.  San Francisco’s only game on Monday Night Football in those seasons was in 2008.  Since 2010, the season after the 49ers finished with their first non-losing record in six seasons, they played in six primetime games over two seasons.

After the 49ers reverted back to a losing record in 2010, they only appeared in two primetime games in 2011.  One game was a token primetime game on Monday Night Football because the 49ers had new head coach Jim Harbaugh. The other primetime game was set up by the NFL on Thanksgiving Night Football, with a Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh matchup.  The first time two brothers faced off in an NFL game as head coaches.

With both the 49ers and Lions two of the NFL’s top up-and-coming teams, Sunday night’s game will be hotly anticipated, not only for the 49ers Faithful and Lions fans, both for all NFL fans.  The 49ers offense showed last week they can drive down the field and score points inside the red zone, something that was an issue last season.  Don’t expect the offense to be stopped by the Lions defense, as they are without their top-two cornerbacks, Chris Houston and Bill Bentley.  This will leave a thin group in the secondary for the Lions to cover Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario ManninghamAlex Smith is ready to lead his offense to a win in front of a national TV audience and to show he has finally shed the draft bust label.

Playing in primetime is a great opportunity to show all NFL fans who you really are as a team and you are a team to be reckon with.  If the 49ers win over the Packers did not convince the rest of the NFL the Niners are Super Bowl material, a dominate win over the Lions on Sunday night will make them come around to the 49ers Faithful thinking.

Breakdown of 49ers games in primetime from 2002-2012:

2012 (1-0)

5 primetime games

Sunday Night Football: 2

Monday Night Football: 2

Thursday Night Football: 1

2011 (13-3)

Thursday Night Football: 1

Monday Night Football: 1

2010 (6-10)

Monday Night Football: 2

Sunday Night Football: 1

Thursday Night Football: 1

2009 (8-8)

Thursday Night Football: 1

Monday Night Football: 1

2008 (7-9)

Monday Night Football: 1

2007 (5-11)

Monday Night Football: 2

Saturday Night Football: 1

2006 (7-9)

Thursday Night Football: 1

2005 (4-12)

Sunday Night Football: 1

2004 (2-14)

Sunday Night Football: 1

2003 (7-9)

Sunday Night Football: 1

Monday Night Football: 1

2002 (10-6)

Thursday Night Football: 1

Monday Night Football: 3

2001 (12-4)

Monday Night Football: 1

Sunday Night Football:  2

2000 (6-10)

Zero games in primetime

 

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Tags: 49ers 2012 49ers Primetime San Francisco 49ers

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