The San Francisco 49ers will be playing two less games than normal in 2020, after the NFL has reportedly cancelled Week 1 and Week 4 of this year’s preseason.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the NFL has decided to scrap Preseason Week 1 and Week 4’s games, which means that San Francisco will not travel to the Denver Broncos on August 15 and will not host the Los Angeles Chargers on September 3.
The move was driven by two primary factors. First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games.
This would allow time for rookies like first-rounders defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to become better embedded after missing months of typical practice and time with staff and veteran players.
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Importance of Preseason Week 1 and Week 4
In Florio’s report, he adds the nuance of the situation, which pertains to how Week 1 and Week 4 compare to Week 2 and Week 3.
“Already, the Week Four preseason game is worthless (or, more accurately, less worthless than the other preseason games). So it’s really only the loss of one preseason game. And the first preseason game doesn’t typically involve much work from starters, anyway.”
From a fan and viewer perspective, this is totally accurate. Week 1 and Week 4 rarely feature starters and are a visible step below what the regular season looks like.
However, those weeks are typically important for rookies or players attempting to secure a roster spot. For the 49ers’ undrafted free agents like Alabama’s Jared Mayden, Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty or Notre Dame’s Chris Finke, this is tough news to take.
After already missing the opportunity to work with players and staff to prove themselves, they are now being left with even fewer opportunities to show that they’re worth a roster spot in 2020.
Looking at the 49ers’ Matchups with Raiders, Bears
Along with the rest of the NFL, the 49ers will now play one home game and one road game during the preseason, with the Las Vegas Raiders visiting Santa Clara, California on August 21 and San Francisco visiting the Chicago Bears on August 29.
The former Bay City rivalry clash with the Raiders is one people will be glad to see, after the two sides had not played each other in the preseason since 2011 due to gun violence at the game.
While the Raiders have made the move to Nevada, the history of the two teams are intertwined through a “Battle of the Bay,” and it means that the two will now open their seasons with an old rival. With an enormous amount of change, it’s likely unsure what kind of playing time starters will see in their first steps onto a field of competition.
Afterwards, the 49ers will have one of the longest preseason road trips in the country as they travel to Illinois to face the Chicago Bears.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.