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With Jimmy Garoppolo in tow, 49ers should be back in prime time in 2018

From ESPN - January 12, 2018

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Even after an 8-8 season in 2014, the San Francisco 49ers found themselves scheduled for a whopping four nationally televised prime-time games.

That was a testament to the team's success in the three seasons that preceded the .500 year as well as the draw of a big-name coach in Jim Harbaugh. But as the Niners have fallen into the NFL abyss, so too has their national profile. Over the past two seasons, fans wanting to watch the Niners on television have mostly had to live in a local market broadcasting the game.

The 49ers played under the prime-time lights just three times total. Two of those were "Thursday Night Football" games that are given to nearly every NFL team each season. The other was the late "Monday Night Football" game against the Los Angeles Rams to open the 2016 season.

Otherwise, even when the Niners have appeared in prime time, they have not done so on the bigger stage offered by being the sole game on "Monday Night Football" or on "Sunday Night Football."

But even after a 6-10 campaign last year, it's probably wise to expect that to change in 2018. No, the 2018 NFL schedule wo not be released for a few months, but considering the Niners' red-hot finish and all the buzz they have already built for next season behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, they look to be just the right combination of up-and-coming team with tremendous franchise tradition to find themselves playing after the sun goes down.

With that in mind, here's an early look at some of the games that could have major prime-time appeal to the NFL's schedule makers and affiliated television networks:

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