49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he needs his team's intensity to improve on the road

The 49ers are 0-5 on the road, thanks in large part to some lopsided defensive numbers.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The 49ers are allowing opponents 35.2 points per game on the road, against just 15.8 at home. That's important because their next two games are away from Levi's Stadium, as are three of their remaining five games to finish off their disappointing season. The 49ers and Washington are the only teams that have not won a road game.

San Francisco has been bad away from Santa Clara, which is especially disconcerting for head coach Jim Tomsula considering some of the performances he's gotten from his team at home.

In the season opener, the 49ers soundly beat the Vikings 20-3, who are now vying for a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed with their 8-3 record. The 49ers also beat the 6-5 Falcons, mostly because of a bang-up effort from the defense holding down Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman while limiting receiver Julio Jones.

While the offense's struggles have plagued the team wherever it plays, it's the defensive intensity that's waffled depending on the venue.

Over the last four games, the 49ers allowed rushing totals of 197, 17, 255 and 70.

You guessed it. The two lowest totals came at home, while the two larger totals came on the road against the Rams and Seahawks. The defense that flies around at Levi's Stadium has had all sorts of trouble getting up for road games.

"That was the first topic of conversation (this week)," Tomsula said Monday. "You're not going to change flights. You're not going to change that you're going on the road. So, the changes need to come from each one of us and how we have ourselves prepared to play."

"Maybe we need to sprint off the bus...that urgency and attack that football game."

This week, the 49ers will play a surging Bears team at Soldier Field that's won three of its last four, including on the road against the Packers on Thanksgiving night, giving them three extra days to prepare for San Francisco.

Of course, on Chicago's coaching staff are offensive coordinator Adam Gase, whom the 49ers nearly hired to become their head coach before giving the reins to Tomsula. Additionally, the team's defensive coordinator and secondary coach of the last four years, Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell, hold those same positions for first-year head coach John Fox.

"Obviously that's taken into account...We know that, very aware of that," Tomsula said when asked about the familiarity of his former coaches he collaborated with.

All three of the 49ers' remaining road games come in the Eastern time zone, and will be 10 a.m. starts locally. Tomsula said he doesn't anticipate early start times impacting his team's preparation leading into those games.

"We went through that and then went back and the last few years just practice normal and played," Tomsula said. "I haven't seen any of that make a major impact, so I don't want to do that. We're going to practice the way we practice and keep going."

The 49ers were one of the best road teams in the NFL from 2011 through 2013, when the team reached three straight conference title games under former head coach Jim Harbaugh, who compiled a record of 17-7 away from Candlestick Park before going 4-4 last season.

After Chicago, the 49ers return to the upper midwest to play the Cleveland Browns. Two weeks later, they travel to Detroit for a game Dec. 27 against the Lions.


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