GREEN BAY, Wis. -- California, here come the Green Bay Packers -- a day later.
After their collapse on the coast earlier this month against the Chargers in Los Angeles, where the Packers arrived two days before the game, first-year coach Matt LaFleur changed the team’s travel plans in advance of this Sunday night’s showdown against the San Francisco 49ers.
He said Monday that he’s decided to stick to a regular travel schedule, which means the Packers will leave just one day before the game like they would for shorter road trips.
"We’re going to leave on Saturday," LaFleur said.
This after he consulted with his team’s medical and training staffs and no doubt considered what his quarterback said after the 26-11 loss to Chargers about how they handled their business with extra time to kill in California.
"We've got to be honest about our routine and decisions we made the last 48 hours and make sure that our heads are in the right place the next time we come on a big road trip, which will just be in three weeks," Aaron Rodgers said at the time, referring to the Nov. 24 game at the 49ers.
LaFleur said he made the decision after talking with the Packers’ medical staff along with strength and conditioning coordinator Chris Gizzi, team nutritionist Adam Korzun, head athletic trainer Bryan Engel and -- as LaFleur said -- "some other people as well."
Although he didn’t identify the other people, it’s worth wondering if Rodgers was among them given how outspoken he was in Los Angeles.
Before the Chargers game, LaFleur had said he decided to leave earlier in part because of the time-zone changes and vastly different weather conditions.
"What I came to find out was just that the two-hour time difference really doesn’t affect our guys a whole bunch," LaFleur said Monday as the Packers returned from the bye. "It’s harder on teams going from West Coast to East Coast, so coupled with the fact that how I felt the Chargers trip went, I just thought this was the best route to go for our football team."
LaFleur put the Packers through a bonus practice on Monday after giving the players off from Tuesday through Sunday for the bye. All 53 players on the roster took part in the on-field workout heading into perhaps the most intriguing game on the Packers’ schedule.
Not only did LaFleur work under 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan at three different stops -- Houston, Washington and Atlanta -- but LaFleur’s brother, Mike, is the 49ers' passing game coordinator. Also, 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is the one who got Matt LaFleur into the NFL coaching business in the first place.
And then there’s what’s at stake. This could game could help determine home-field advantage, first-round playoff byes and seeding in the NFC. The Packers (8-2) are the No. 2 team in the NFC behind only the 49ers (9-1).
So the Packers are trying everything they can to avoid a repeat of their last West Coast trip.
"We obviously don't want what happened against the Chargers to happen this week, but our mind is not there," Packers veteran cornerback Tramon Williams said. "As a player, you don't look at it that way, you look at it that we just didn't show up. We didn't play well. This time around we have to show up and we have to play well obviously against a really good 49er team, you know top in their division, probably No. 1 seed. We’ve got to continue doing what we're doing and we’ve got to treat this week as normal as possible, which we will, and hopefully we show up, show out, when the time comes."