SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Considering how the San Francisco 49ers finished the 2017 season with five straight wins behind made-for-television quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, they would seem to be a no-brainer choice for HBO's annual "Hard Knocks" series.
The combination of a rising big-market franchise with a charismatic young quarterback coming into his own and a variety of other entertaining young players, such as linebacker Reuben Foster, would make for compelling TV. And, as one of just six teams that hasn't made the playoffs in the past two years, hasn't appeared on the show in the past 10 years, and isn't undergoing a coaching change, the NFL could theoretically force the Niners into participating.
Alas, that seems like the only path in which San Francisco would participate. Niners general manager John Lynch recently told NBC Sports Bay Area that the team prefers not to be the subject of the show and the league has been informed of that preference.
“It’s not something we would be really excited about,” Lynch said. “I love the show, but I think some things are best left behind closed doors. I fundamentally have a problem with cutting players and things of that nature (on camera). It’s not something we’d be thrilled about.”
Along with the 49ers, the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins are the other teams that don't meet any of the aforementioned requirements to be exempt from participating. Of course, the league has yet to force a team to participate, regularly finding a team willing to do it. Any team can also volunteer.
In fact, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco recently said he'd be OK with his team appearing on the show.
"We have a really good relationship with NFL Films and Ross Ketover and his staff, they do really excellent work," Telesco told ESPN Chargers reporter Eric Williams. "And that show is really good because they give great access.
"Am I comfortable asking our players and coaches to work every day with microphones and cameras on them? Not entirely; I just think that people work differently when you're under the microscope like that being filmed. But that all being said, there's some benefits beyond football to being on that show, and we're pretty adaptable people here. If it so happens that we do it, then we'll make it work and we'll adapt to it. We shall see."
On paper, the Niners would be the most appealing choice of the teams available, but the Chargers could follow in the footsteps of the Los Angeles Rams in an effort to drum up interest soon after a move to the nation's second-largest market. The Rams did the show in their first year back in Los Angeles. If the Chargers are the choice, it would document their second season in L.A.