No. 2: The long road trip
After a stretch of four games at home out of their last five, including the last three in a row after Sunday night’s game against the Packers, the 49ers will play three of their final five contests on the road. This includes the final two of this difficult span of games in Baltimore and New Orleans.
Like they did between Weeks 1 and 2 to start off the season, the 49ers will spend the week between games on a neutral site, this time in sunnier Florida as opposed to potentially frigid Youngstown, OH. This move proved helpful, as the 49ers ran their record to 2-0 with a 41-17 thumping of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.
But these two road matchups feature much stronger opponents, and the 49ers, now deeper into the season than they were in early September, find themselves up against it in terms of injuries as the calendar begins its march toward December.
Essentially, once the 49ers leave San Francisco on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they won’t be back on the west coast until later in the afternoon or early evening on Dec. 8 after the game in New Orleans.
The other issue is that both games are currently set for 1 p.m. ET, which amounts to a 10 a.m. start for the west coast team. And while the team hasn’t struggled with those starts like they have in the past (they’ve won both such games so far this season), it’s possible the quality of the opponents factors in heavily there.
This may not matter as much other than the Dec. 1 matchup in Baltimore, but it’s something to keep an eye out for as the 49ers embark on this long road trip. Fatigue, and not just the other team, may factor into their performances against the Ravens and Saints.