The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the New York Giants this weekend, wrapping up a tough two-game road trip. The 49ers went on the road to beat the New Orleans Saints this past weekend. They returned to the Bay Area that evening, and will then travel to New Jersey on Friday. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke got some questions about staying in Youngstown during the week, but it became pretty clear they would travel back to the Bay Area.
This two weeks of travel is extensive, but the good news is that this marks the end of significant travel for the 49ers. After returning home from New York, the team has an incredibly easy travel schedule. They have plenty of injury issues to deal with, and they face some tough opponents, but travel will not be a significant factor.
The 49ers remaining schedule is as follows:
Week 12: vs. Washington
Week 13: vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 14: @ Oakland Raiders
Week 15: @ Seattle Seahawks
Week 16 (Saturday): vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals
There are some very tough games mixed in there, but for travel purposes, it could not get any easier. They have two games, then a "road" game at Oakland, a road game in Seattle, and then two more home games. I recall seeing this when the schedule first came out, and thinking this would be important when the latter portion of the season arrived.
If the 49ers can get out of New York with a victory, they would head into the final stretch at 6-4. None of these games are gimmes, as even the Oakland Raiders have occasionally given teams a tough time. And going into Seattle is obviously an incredibly difficult task. Nonetheless, removing concerns about jet lag or travel fatigue strikes me as kind of a big deal for a team in the thick of the playoff race.
For comparison's sake, here is a rundown of the remaining playoff teams and the games for which they have to travel outside of their own time zone (not including this week):
Cardinals: @ Seattle, @ Atlanta, @ St. Louis, @ San Francisco
Seahawks: @ Philadelphia, @ Arizona
Packers: @ Philadelphia, @ Buffalo, @ Tampa Bay
Lions: @ Green Bay
Eagles: @ Dallas
Cowboys: @ Philadelphia, @ Washington
This is not a huge issue for most teams, although Arizona does have an extensive bit of travel the rest of the way. But again, when all these teams are right in the thick of the playoff race, every possible edge is welcome.