Niners embracing another prime-time showdown

  • By Grant Gordon
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No slate of prime time offerings this season has likely been as enticing as the Week 12 gamut.

It began Thursday night with an AFC South first-place showdown won by the Texans against the Colts, and it concludes Monday as the red-hot Ravens travel to face the Rams.

Part of the slate is a Sunday night affair in which the 49ers host the Packers. It's a meeting that was flexed into the evening slot.

A season ago, Kyle Shanahan's San Francisco squad provided just four wins, but they've far surpassed that this season, as the 49ers have proven they're most assuredly ready-for-prime-time players.

"I think it's cool for an organization," Shanahan said Friday via team transcript. "I think it's cool for the fans. I think everyone likes to be on prime time and be the one game on. As I've said, I think players and coaches like when the rest of your peers, other players and coaches around the league, can watch you."

Over the last four outings, this will be the third game in prime time for the 49ers (9-1), who reside in first place in the NFC West with the conference's best record.

San Francisco downed Cleveland on Monday night in Week 5 before a Week 9 win over Arizona on Thursday night. In Week 10, the 49ers were dealt their first and so far only loss against the Seahawks on Monday night.

While Shanahan believes the high-profile outings are "cool" for fans and the organization, alike, he stresses that they mean all the same.

"I try not to make too big a deal out of it," he said. "I don't try to hype it up too much and make a big deal about it because it's not once the ball is kicked. It's still the exact same game as any other game is and they're all just as tough. They all mean the exact same amount. When everyone is watching you, there might be more judgement, there might be more publicity the next day and during it, but that stuff that really doesn't matter, so you try not to let it matter."

The largest difference might well be the attention paid, including after the game.

"After a win I get a lot of texts after a game," Shanahan said. "After a loss you don't get as much, you get a couple. After a win on Monday night and stuff you get a bunch because everyone sees it."

When you're the only game on, chances are all the more eyes are tuned in.

It's also made for an atmosphere more akin to the postseason lately.

"You need those games to get to January. I mean, the NFL comes down to the wire," Shanahan said. "You never, by no means are we a lock to go to the playoffs at all. That's why every game I see is a playoff game from here on out. The Seattle game definitely felt like it based off the atmosphere and everything like that, based off the record of the team we were going against and everything because I know people are expecting them to be there. But, I felt the exact same way about the Arizona game. The atmosphere wasn't quite the same with it not being Monday Night Football and stuff, but that game was just as important as the one before and I see every one being like this from here on out."

San Francisco is back under the bright lights on Sunday, looking to shine just as it has all season no matter what time or day.