The second of two Monday Night Football games and the fourth divisional matchup of Week 1 will pit the Los Angeles Rams against the San Francisco 49ers, a pair of teams with plenty of quarterback drama entering the 2016 season.
With ESPN carrying the broadcast, the game can be streamed online with WatchESPN. While the NFL Game Pass service on NFL.com won’t have a live stream of the game, it will have a replay available after the conclusion of the game, and does offer live streaming radio broadcasts.
The game is the return of Los Angeles football, although fans will have to wait for a Week 2 game against the Seattle Seahawks for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to once again host a regular season game.
Still, it’s the first time in two decades that the Bay Area will host a Los Angeles team in a Southern California vs. Northern California rivalry that has been alive and well in other sports.
Many will want to tune in as early as the national anthem to see the reaction a San Francisco crowd has to Colin Kaepernick and possibly others who plan to protest racial injustices by kneeling. The growing movement has extended to other teams, but Kaepernick is the pioneer of the protest, and all eyes and reactions are fixed and directed toward him.
He is, however, the backup quarterback for the 49ers, and when kickoff occurs, attention will instead divert to Blaine Gabbert and the Chip Kelly-led San Francisco offense.
The former Jacksonville Jaguars draft bust was acquired for a sixth-round pick and has revived his career in San Francisco, finishing the 2015 season with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight starts. The decent showing as a starter coupled with the decline of Kaepernick means that Gabbert will get a chance to lead the 49ers in 2016. He may have a short leash though as an unproven starter and with another somewhat viable option on the sideline.
The same can likely be said about Rams starter Case Keenum, who finished last season with four touchdowns and an interception in five starts. With Sean Mannion and No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff behind him on the depth chart (although Goff is expected to be inactive) the Rams may not be patient with Keenum if he struggles out of the gates.
That means a lot of pressure on a pair of starting quarterbacks who have bigger names breathing down their necks and unheralded defenses to go against. During a rough 2015 season, the 49ers finished No. 18 in points allowed but were held back by the worst scoring offense in the NFL. The Rams’ defense was similarly hurt by a terrible offense and still finished No. 13 in points allowed.
In a division that features a pair of Super Bowl hopefuls — the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks — neither the 49ers nor the Rams face the burden of high expectations in 2016. But there will be high hopes for whichever team comes out on top Monday, especially if it comes with a strong quarterback performance.
How to watch
Time: 10:20 p.m. ET
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
Announcers: Chris Berman, Steve Young, Lindsay Czarniak
Online streaming: WatchESPN