Jimmy Garoppolo has a torn ACL and is out for the year. The San Francisco 49ers are 1-4 and have lost two in a row with CJ Beathard at the helm. With five primetime games in 11 games left on the season for the Niners, the NFL was looking at some potentially dire viewership for those games.
On Tuesday, the league cleared one of those landmines. The 49ers-Rams clash in Week 7 has been flexed out of NBC’s Sunday Night Football and moved to the 4:25 PM ET window on CBS in favor of a much more appealing Bengals-Chiefs matchup.
Incredibly, this is the earliest time in a season the NFL has flexed a game, usually waiting until the final month and a half of the season to get the best games on Sunday Night Football. Going into the 2014 season, the league added a provision to the flex rule allowing games as early as Week 5 to be flexed (instead of starting in Week 10), but only two games a season between Weeks 5 and 10 can be flexed. That likely won’t be an issue for the league this year – Saints-Vikings in Week 8 is the only game prior to Thanksgiving that looks like a serious flex candidate, because there’s no chance in hell the league is going to flex out of Packers-Patriots or Cowboys-Eagles, and I don’t think Steelers-Jaguars is in danger, either.
The Rams can’t be too pleased about losing a primetime game, and NFL fans outside of Los Angeles are losing one of their few remaining opportunities to see the team in primetime this year. Following the flex, the Rams have just two games left in primetime – Week 11 against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football (in…Mexico?), and Week 15 against the Eagles on Sunday Night Football.
Going back to the 49ers for a second, fans won’t have to wait long to see them in primetime – they play the Packers in Green Bay this Monday night. They also play the Raiders on Thursday night in Week 9, and the Giants at home on Monday night in Week 10 (back to back Niners primetime games!). San Francisco also goes to Seattle in Week 13 on Sunday night, but there is no chance in hell that game isn’t going to get flexed out – even though the schedule that weekend isn’t great at all.