Over the next eight days, the 49ers will play a pair of road games as part of a nine-day road trip that takes them to Ohio for much of that time, followed by a brief stop in Philadelphia. The 49ers will face the Cincinnati Bengals tomorrow followed by the Philadelphia Eagles in a week's time. If the 49ers can return to Candlestick at 2-2, I think most people would be at least temporarily satisfied.
And yet, history is not exactly on the 49ers side heading into this contest. Since 2003, the 49ers are 4-36 in road games against non-divisional opponents. Thanks to this Yahoo! Sports article for pointing out this ignominious stat. It has been a brutal run, although given the team's general performance over that time period this win-loss record isn't exactly shocking. A good chunk of those losses were sucked up by the "West coast team traveling to the Eastern Time Zone" but the team also has just plain stunk during that stretch.
The 49ers last non-divisional road win game against the Buffalo Bills in 2008, a game they won 10-3. The win came in week 13 and was also the first game that season that any west coast team won a road game in the eastern time zone. Prior to the Bills win, the 49ers won at Denver and at Detroit in 2006 and at Philadelphia in 2003. That's quite the sad run.
Now we get to see if Jim Harbaugh can continue in his efforts to turn the culture around. The 49ers get their first crack at the dreaded eastern time zone tomorrow and follow it up again next week in the east. I'm curious to see how the time zone affects the team particularly given the plan to stay east through the road trip. Will it be a psychological lift knowing there is no jet lag to get used to?
The Oakland Raiders made the trip to Buffalo last week and came out fairly hot before late struggles cost them. Is it possible a team gets going on adrenaline early but the early start catches up with them late? Will it make much of a difference how that plays out tomorrow in Cincy?