49ers have the NFL’s worst travel distance disadvantage
The 2021 NFL schedule won’t be easy for the 49ers from a travel perspective.
San Francisco has the most net travel miles in the NFL in 2021, according to ESPN. The 49ers will travel nearly 8,000 miles more than their opponents, round trip.
The 49ers will also travel more than 28,000 miles over the course of the 2021 season, the most of any team. But net travel miles matter more than total distance traveled, because net travel miles factor in how far your opponent is traveling, too. Traveling to London may take a lot out of you, but your opponent has to make the trip too, so it evens out. (All four teams playing in London this year are East Coast teams.)
But the 49ers have a lot of road trips to far away places, and their opponents don’t have to travel as far to play them.
How should we look at net travel miles? For starters, disregard division games, because every team plays its divisional opponents once at home and once on the road, so whatever travel disadvantage you go through to play a division road game, that division opponent is going to have the same disadvantage when it visits you.
Also keep in mind that this year, the NFL’s first 17-game season, NFC teams will play nine road games, while AFC teams will play nine home games. Unsurprisingly, the 12 teams with the worst travel distance disadvantage all play in the NFC.
The 49ers have non-division trips to Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Their non-division home games are against Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Houston.