The San Francisco 49ers will aim for a playoff berth next season, and with it could come an intriguing schedule possibility. If the 49ers are able to win the NFC West, Levi’s Stadium could itself hosting the 49ers in a playoff game on Saturday, January 5, 2019, and then Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines play in the college football national championship game on Monday, January 7.
There are quite a few people who would laugh at the notion of Michigan appearing in the national title game next year. Ohio State fans would dominate that group, but plenty of other folks likely feel the same way. Michigan finished the 2017 season 8-5, with three straight losses to close out the season. They lost at No. 5 Wisconsin, at home to No. 9 Ohio State, and then in the Outback Bowl to South Carolina.
It was not an inspiring finish, and people have questioning Jim Harbaugh’s future in Ann Arbor. But, SB Nation college football analyst Bill Connelly could see a bright future heading into the 2018-19 college football season. Back in November, coming off their loss to Wisconsin, Connelly wrote about how they were not far off from expectations, and they were building toward what could be a drastically improved 2018 season.
I don’t know much about college football, but I know Bill knows it as well as anybody out there from an analytical perspective. There are no guarantees in a selection system that is rather flawed, but the possibility is out there.
On the other hand, we’ve got the 49ers, coming off a 6-10 season, but entering 2018 with a ton of optimism behind Jimmy Garoppolo. A division title would be a huge step forward, but the NFC West is in flux. I am not holding my breath for a division title, but I think expectations are high enough to not be totally shocked if it comes to fruition.
If that did happen, it would make for an interesting week at Levi’s Stadium. The stadium was selected a couple years back to host the 2018-19 college football title game on Monday, January 7. While that date is locked in, a potential 49ers playoff game would depend on the 49ers final standing. If they were to win the division and not get a bye, they would play on Saturday, January 5. If they were to win the division and get a bye, they would play on either Saturday, January 12, or Sunday, January 13. If they claimed a wild card berth, they would not host a playoff game.
Imagine a 49ers game on Saturday, followed by the national title game on Monday? The field conditions for the title game would be a major storyline coming amidst a 48 hour turnaround time for the field crew.
This is all wild speculation for at least the next eight or nine months. But when the season is over and we have a long wait ahead of us, wild speculation is what we’ve got!