The NFL is going to shift from 16 games to 17 this season, and there’s actually a number of small benefits from the 49ers’ vantage point.
The NFL’s 16-game season is officially coming to an end, having kicked off in 1978 and meeting its close after 2020.
And as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero pointed out, league owners have officially adopted the new 17-game season effective immediately.
For teams like the San Francisco 49ers, well, there are a lot of setbacks. Particularly from the players’ collective vantage point. Tack on another week of rigorous practice, added risk of injury from one more game and even just the expanded schedule, it’s no wonder why some players like the New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara aren’t fans at all.
But the league, including each one of those 32 teams, is going to make extra money. That’s the bottom line.
True, another setback for the Niners, a West Coast team, is the added travel. This might not be as big a deal for East Coast teams which generally don’t have as great of distances, particularly with inter-divisional matchups.
At the same time, however, there are some advantages for San Francisco just below the radar.
Advantages of a 17-game schedule for 49ers are marginal but there
We already know the 49ers’ upcoming opponents list for the upcoming 2021 season. While the schedule isn’t know, the road and home bouts are already set in stone with the Niners facing off against both the NFC North and AFC South along with the last-place schedule associated with finishing in fourth place within the NFC West last season.
The extra 17th “at large” game was going to be an inter-conference bout, and it was already determined it would be the Cincinnati Bengals if that game was added.
Well, now it is. A Bengals squad coming off a 4-11-1 season a year ago and still in the early stages of putting it all together with second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.
Most likely, all that’s an advantage in San Francisco’s favor regardless where the game is played, although it looks as if it’s in Cincinnati.
On top of that, and this is more the hidden bonus, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch’s Monday press conference in the wake of the blockbuster trade that saw the team move up to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft revealed the 49ers remain fully committed to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo this season.
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan discuss the free agency signings and decision to trade up in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Posted by San Francisco 49ers on Monday, March 29, 2021
Although that No. 3 overall pick is going to be used on a quarterback. That’s for certain.
Assuming Garoppolo hangs around for the entirety of the upcoming year, the additional week affords one more game and the preparation leading up to it for whichever rookie the Niners select to learn and hone his craft.
That can’t hurt matters, right? And if San Francisco is looking to squeeze whatever value it can out of Garoppolo in 2021 for a potential 2022 trade, well, another game of evidence can potentially help, too.
So, aside from the money, it’s not all bad from the 49ers’ vantage point to get that added 17th game on the calendar.