HBO will announce later this spring who will take part in the 2019 version of Hard Knocks. What used to be something teams volunteered for has turned into something the NFL has had to create rules for to get teams participating. And this year, the San Francisco 49ers are one of the teams that cannot say no if asked.
The NFL states that a team now has to appear on Hard Knocks when asked, with three exceptions:
- They have a first-year head coach in place.
- They have a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
- They have appeared on Hard Knocks in the past 10 years
Entering Sunday’s regular season finale, there were eight teams eligible to take part. The list included the 49ers, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Washington, Detroit Lions, and Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals, Dolphins, and Broncos all fired their head coaches on Monday, leaving the remaining five.
49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch were asked what the team’s stance was about Hard Knocks if asked this summer. Lynch sort of shook his head and said, “You had to go there.” Shanahan followed by saying, “It’s a hard, hard, bad stance, Hard Knocks. You will see the worst entertainment possible by me.”
Looking at the list of potential teams, the 49ers and Raiders strike me as the most interesting for now. The 49ers bring back Jimmy Garoppolo and look to rebound from a disappointing season. The Raiders have Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock running things, which might just be enough. The Giants would bring in a national audience, and if they were to draft a young quarterback to compete with Eli Manning, that could generate some ratings. For now though, I’d think the Raiders and 49ers are atop the list.