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In Jim Harbaugh’s first two seasons, he decided to keep the 49ers on the road between back-to-back eastern games.
There’s a possibility the 49ers could face the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C., one week after opening the NFC playoffs on the road Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.
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So would Harbaugh keep the 49ers on road if they were forced to travel in the divisional round of the playoffs to face the NFC South winner?
“I’ve given it some thought,” Harbaugh said on Monday.
And has he made a decision?
“No,” Harbaugh said. “I’ll keep you posted.”
If the wild-card New Orleans Saints defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, a 49ers victory over the Packers would send the 49ers to Carolina in the next round of the playoffs. But if the NFC East-champion Eagles defeat the Saints, a 49ers victory would mean a divisional-round matchup at the Seattle Seahawks. As the NFC West champion and top seed in the NFC, the Seahawks will open the playoffs Jan. 11 against the lowest-remaining NFC seed.
In 2011 and 2012, the 49ers remained in Youngstown, Ohio, between back-to-back road games. The first year, the 49ers played at Cincincinnati and Philadelphia in successive weeks. In ’12, the 49ers played at Minnesota and the New York Jets to prompt the week of practice in Youngstown.
It seems highly unlikely the 49ers would remain on the road between playoff games. The major difference from the regular season is that the 49ers were able to put plans into place months in advance of their Youngstown stops. The logistics of arranging accommodations for the entire team and support staff, as well as transporting all their film equipment and all the amenities they enjoy at their practice facility in Santa Clara, might create more problems than benefits.