49ers prepare for east coast early morning game vs. Buccaneers

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Excluding the trip to London, the 49ers are facing their first 10 a.m. PT start when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15. Are they in store for a letdown?

The San Francisco 49ers departed the Bay area Friday afternoon to travel east to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 49ers departed around 3 this afternoon, which means they can expect to get in fairly late at night Tampa time. They will get time to rest up on Saturday, and then they will face the Bucs at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT on Sunday.

One of the themes being discussed with this game is whether or not it's a "trap game". Aside from the early start, the 49ers coming off an emotionally-charged victory over the Seattle Seahawks. I don't know enough about psychology to say anything with certainty when it comes to the impact of emotions, but a potential let down certainly seems possible.

All the 49ers coaches have been asked about a potential letdown, and all have generally said the same thing. Jim Harbaugh was asked about it on Wednesday:

"The obvious answer is ... our guys are professionals, they know what's at stake. This game is the biggest game on the schedule. This is a must-win game and just win. And do whatever it takes to get that. By any means necessary. The first thing is the preparation. You've got to put yourself in a position to earn that. And, our guys will be committed and professional about doing that."

Vic Fangio was asked about it on Thursday:

"No. I don't think so. Like I told you last week, the last four games have equal importance because of the situation we were in. This game, for us and all intents and purposes, is just as important as last week's was. With the division title realistically not in the picture, all these games weigh the same."

While they seem comfortable with the situation, it is interesting to note that according to Eric Branch, Justin Smith spoke to the team on the field after their final practice of the week. As we know, he is not a big talker, rather being the kind to take action and handle his business. I don't think this means there is concern about a letdown, but Justin Smith is there to make extra sure it's not a problem. The 49ers are in good position in the playoff chase, but one mis-step could take down the whole house of cards.

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