The San Francisco 49ers have changed up their travel plans for Week 16, and Jim Tomsula gave a nod to the glory days as part of the reasoning. This trip, the team is leaving Saturday morning, rather than the usual Friday afternoon.
When the 49ers have travel to the eastern time zone over the last few years, they have left on Friday following practice and media availability. The idea has been that it gives the team time to adjust to the change in time for those 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. It's not quite as bad as traveling to London for games, but the three hour difference can be felt.
On Friday, Jim Tomsula was asked about the decision to fly out on Saturday, and if there was concern about the players getting their bodies adjusted to the time change. Tomsula spoke about the team's history in his answer:
"Well, I'll tell you what we did was we went back and we are mimicking the schedule. I was laughing with [vice president of football affairs] Keena Turner and [running backs coach] Tom Rathman when they used to go, what did they have 18 wins, 18 road wins. Isn't that still a record? Yeah, they left at nine o'clock in the morning on Saturday. Had their meeting and got on a bus and left. That's the way they did it. So, we're mimicking that. And we are looking at it. I'll be honest with you. But, if changeup on how we do things on road games, this was a great opportunity to do that."
A nod to the 49ers glorious past is certainly interesting, even if I am inclined to call BS on it. Yes, the 49ers found a lot of success in the 80s, but I am not inclined to think the travel schedule was a huge reason. After all, the 49ers also found a lot of success under Jim Harbaugh with the Friday departure. In games in the central and eastern time zones between 2011 and 2014, the 49ers were 21-4.
What did those Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh teams have in common? They were good. That might be too simplistic a reason, but good teams overcome obstacles. Bad teams look for excuses. That being said, it will be interesting to see what Sunday brings following this later than normal departure. Will the 49ers be a little slow out of the gates? Against an offense like that of Detroit, that can be a very dangerous proposition.
Of course, the Lions are coming into this game on a slightly shorter week, having spent a lot of energy in their win over the Saints, and two days removed from Christmas. Could they be a little sleepy out of the gate as well? I keep wondering if we'll see another clunker like we saw between the 49ers and Bears, that picks up the pace a bit late in the game. Who knows with two bad teams.