The San Francisco 49ers entered their Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams with nothing of major significance to play for, having already locked up the No. 1 seed, a first round bye, and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with their Week 17 victory over the Washington Commanders.
The bye sends the 49ers to the Divisional Round for the fourth time in the last five years. Whether Levi's Stadium hosts a game on Saturday, Jan. 20 or Sunday, Jan. 21 has not yet been announced, but the 49ers and their fans will be able to figure that out well before the NFL officially finalizes the schedule for the postseason's second weekend.
Ever since the NFL introduced a Monday Night Football game to the Wild Card round two years ago, there has been somewhat of a lock when it comes to the Divisional Round scheduling process.
The winner of the Monday game has not been scheduled to play again until the Sunday of Divisional Round weekend. We saw it with the Rams two years ago and with the Dallas Cowboys last year. The logic makes sense, in the interest of fairness; the winning team would only have four days of rest if they were to be scheduled to play the following Saturday.
When will the 49ers begin their playoff run?
This year's Monday night Wild Card game is set to feature the No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the No. 5 seed Philadelphia Eagles. If the winner of this game goes on to play the 49ers, then the game will be scheduled for Sunday rather than Saturday.
However, two teams have a chance to prevent this Divisional Round matchup, thus inserting Kyle Shanahan's team into a Saturday schedule slot.
As the No. 1 seed, the 49ers are positioned to take on the lowest-seeded Wild Card winner. The Green Bay Packers will be that team after a 48-32 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
With that information determined, the 49ers will be scheduled to host them in one of the two games set to be played on Saturday, Jan. 20.
Updated Jan 14.