The San Francisco 49ers were exceptional last season in the strict sense of the word.
Teams with new coaching staffs were supposed to struggle following a lockout-shortened offseason. Not the 49ers. They were an exception.
2011 49ers in 10 a.m. PT kickoffs
Coaches with backgrounds in the college ranks have often struggled making the transition to the NFL. Not the 49ers' Jim Harbaugh. He was an exception, having played in the NFL recently.
West Coast teams are supposed to fall flat in games kicking off at 10 a.m. PT, especially from the Eastern time zone. The 49ers were again an exception last season, going 4-0 in these games before winning a fifth early kickoff in the Central time zone (at St. Louis).
Conventional wisdom says the 49ers should resist back-to-back games on the East Coast -- at New England and the New York Jets, in this case. But after the 49ers went 2-0 in road matchups against Cincinnati and Philadelphia last season, remaining in Ohio between games, perhaps conventional wisdom does not apply to them so much.