An early read on those dreaded early starts

April, 20, 2011
4/20/11
2:53
PM ET
Twenty-seven San Francisco 49ers games since 2007 were or remain scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PT.

Twenty-nine was the maximum possible number, based on how many road games the 49ers play or are scheduled to play against teams that regularly kick off at that time.

A 28th possible game, at Philadelphia in 2009, was moved back a few hours only when a blizzard forced postponement.

The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have also played quite a few early games, but the percentages have been lower (82.8 for Cardinals, counting 1 p.m. ET kickoffs that began at 11 a.m. local time in Arizona, and 78.6 percent for Seattle).

Why the disparity? Why so many early games when NFC West teams have asked the league to schedule games for later?

I'm seeking official answers to these questions. In the meantime, it's worth noting that the 49ers' situation is different because the Oakland Raiders play in the same television market. As the charts show, every early game for the 49ers in 2011 lines up with a late game for the Raiders, and vice versa.

The 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals don't like kicking off so early following long road trips because they think the time change and travel throw off their body clocks, creating a disadvantage in games often decided by narrow margins.

The league has been unsympathetic. I hope to provide more concrete answers on this. In the meantime, here are those charts. The first one shows the 49ers' early kickoffs this coming season.

The second chart shows the Raiders' early kickoffs for 2011, and corresponding late games for the 49ers.

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