Rams, 49ers take different approaches to consecutive long-distance road games

Getty Images

Two of the teams in the NFC West have set up an interesting apples-to-apples comparison regarding the question of whether to go home or stay put between a pair of road games far from home.

The 49ers, as they did twice last year, set up shop east of the Mississippi between road games three time zones from California. They stayed at The Greenbrier in West Virginia between back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium, against the Jets and now the Giants. The Rams went home between games at Philadelphia and at Buffalo.

Earlier this week, Rams coach Sean McVay was asked about the decision to go back and forth and back and forth versus finding a place to hunker down without two extra long flights.

“It was an option, where similar to what we’ve done in years past, where we kind of have a break where we kind of get away and we’re as a team for a week somewhere,” McVay said. “That’s just happened to work out perfectly for us on our London trips each of the last few years. Or in the example, from the [2018] season when we were staying in Colorado Springs, when we were supposed to go to Mexico City. This was going to be something similar to that where we were going to look into maybe staying out in Philly practicing there, and then just transition to Buffalo. But with the protocols and the restrictions where guys would have to stay in their rooms, things like that, we said, ‘No, we want them to be able to be in their normal atmosphere, environment, be around their families.’ Last week, definitely it felt like the right decision. As long as we’re mature enough, which I know we are to handle this week, the right way, we feel like that’s best.”

Last year, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan explained to PFT after a win in Cincinnati (following a game in Tampa Bay) that he’d tried traveling back and forth, and that it was hard to get players energized for the second game away from home.

“Guys are dead no matter what we try to do,” Shanahan said last September. After staying in Youngstown for a week before the game in Cincinnati, “Guys were bouncing off the walls,” Shanahan said.

Last year, the 49ers beat the Bengals after playing at Tampa, and the Saints in New Orleans after playing at Baltimore. How the 49ers fare in New Jersey and how the Rams perform at Buffalo will become another data point in a longer discussion as to whether it makes sense to take, and to keep, the show on the road for a full week between road games on the other side of the country.