The 49ers take the national stage tonight when they look to avenge a week one loss to their divisional rivals in the Arizona Cardinals in a Monday Night Football contest.
From 1970 to 2005, Monday Night Football had a home at ABC network, where it enjoyed the second longest running prime time show in America behind only CBS' 60 Minutes. In 2006, Monday Night Football moved to ESPN.
From ESPN's pre-recorded opening theme songs to celebrity analysts to the actual game, Monday Night Football adds an added air of excitement to the game.
"Just going back to remembering the times that I did play it was special, because you knew you were the only game on," said 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes. "Everybody in America was going to see you in that moment. And the way I looked at it was that, when I walk away from this game, what do you want them to remember most from that night? Because chances are if you only had one nationally televised game, that's the last thing they're going to remember, so I always want to make a good first impression."
Spikes remembers all too well the impression Monday Night Football had on him as a kid.
"Watching it was priority, ever since I was seven or eight years old," recalled Spikes. "I had to see that, even when I was a little kid. The only thing about it was I had to do my homework early, but that was not problem, because I knew my reward was going to be Monday Night Football at the end of the night."
Watching Monday Night Football was also a big deal for rookie Josh Morgan.
"I always watched all the Monday night games and saw all the records that were broken on Monday night and all the great performances. You always watch that, and of course you always want [to say], 'one day that's going to be me,'" said Morgan.
Despite finally living out that childhood wish, Morgan said he's well composed for tonight's national game.
"I'm not nervous at all. It's a regular game," explained Morgan. "You want to play your best every game. I don't look at it any different. We have to go out there and get a win."
That's exactly in line with the philosophy of his offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
"The way I've always looked at Monday night, and have been blessed to do a number of those games, if you get more excited for Monday night, where were you for the rest of the year? I have a hard time with that. If all of a sudden we are going to compete better because it's a Monday night, then what kind of competitors are we? What kind of players are we? What kind of coaches are we? I would expect us to compete at a high level and get better every week and hopefully that's the case on Monday night," said Martz.
While head coach Mike Singletary also expects his team to be well prepared for prime time, he said there is a danger in getting caught up in the hype. As the team relaxes this afternoon at a resort in North Scottsdale, it's important to instead find the "calm before the storm."
"It's unlike anything else," said Singletary. "It starts on Sunday when you see all the other teams playing and you know that you're the main show the next night. You begin to focus. You begin to get a little impatient. And you don't want to wait. The anticipation of that game – it's a high. You're ready to go and by the time that game starts, it's whether the team can really handle that weight and can focus instead of nervous tension. So for us we're just going to be managing through that time and by game time, hopefully we're ready to go."