Lots of Twitter questions about whether the 49ers will be spending next week in Youngstown, Ohio. The answer: Yes, yes, a million times, yes. Jim Harbaugh announced the decision in June (What, you don't follow this space in June?!) after polling his players about the plan. The 49ers visit the Vikings Sunday and the Jets on Sept. 30.
There's been no griping this week from the 49ers. Rather, they cited last year's week-long stay in Youngstown between Weeks 3 and 4 games in Cincinnati and Philadelphia as a turning point in the 2011 season. They won both contents, and didn't lose again until Nov. 24.
There's something to be said for the camaraderie that builds when a team stays at the same hotel, eats at the same restaurant, has beers at the same bar over a week, players said. There's also a circadian advantage to this approach in that the longer the players stay in the central (Minnesota) and then eastern (Ohio and New York) time zones, the more adjusted they'll be to the kickoff against the Jets.
The stay in Youngstown also carves a significant amount of mileage from their air travel and, theoretically, a significant amount of jet lag from their bodies. The total mileage of round-trip flights from San Jose to Minneapolis and San Jose to New York is 8,244 miles. By staying in Youngstown, the two-week travel total is 5,158 miles.
The team's bigger hurdle this year may be the Dec. 16 game at New England. Before looking up the distances, my sense was that San Jose to Miami (which is practically in Brazil) was the 49ers' longest NFL trip. Not so. While that voyage is 2,556 miles as the crow flies, the trip to Boston is 2,680 miles. (New York, in fact, is only four miles closer to San Jose than San Jose is to Miami)
The week after the Patriots game, which is in prime time, the 49ers have to go on the road to Seattle. Of course, it's hard to explain a woe-is-us travel tale to a Seattle fan (their city is practically in Russia). The week before they play the 49ers, the Seahawks will be in Buffalo (2,110 miles). And a month before that, they'll embark on the NFL's longest trip (2,720 miles) to Miami.
Sunday's game in Minnesota, meanwhile, is one of only three 10 a.m. (PST) for the 49ers this season. The others are the following week against the Jets and their annual trip to St. Louis. The 49ers averaged double that amount during the last six seasons (when they weren't as popular and weren't playing as many prime-time games).
One of most impressive feats Harbaugh and the 49ers pulled off last year: Going 5-0 in games that started at 10 a.m. How impressive was it? In the five years prior, the 49ers were 6-23 in 10 a.m. kickoffs, and one of those wins came in London.
-- Matt Barrows