This past season, the Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots were 7-1 at home. The Seattle Seahawks, too, lost just one game at home.
The Green Bay Packers, who reached the NFC Championship Game, were 8-0 at Lambeau Field. The Indianapolis Colts, who reached the AFC title game, were 6-2 at home.
Meanwhile the San Francisco 49ers, playing in brand new Levi’s Stadium, were just 4-4 on their home turf.
There are many things the 49ers will have to do in 2015 if they want to return to the playoffs and reach the Super Bowl. Winning at home and creating an environment at Levi’s Stadium that gives them confidence is one of them.
As Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group noted in a recent story, “Going 4-4 was unacceptable for a home record.”
Especially considering the 49ers had gone 19-4-1 at their old home, Candlestick Park, over the three previous seasons.
The Niners had been hoping new Levi’s Stadium would give them an even better home-field boost, similar to the one the Seahawks have at CenturyLink Field. But it didn’t happen, beginning with a shocking loss to the Chicago Bears in the regular-season home opener after blowing a big lead.
In 2015, Inman notes the 49ers home schedule will include five teams that reached the postseason: the Seahawks, Cardinals, Packers, Bengals and Ravens. If the new Jim Tomsula-coached 49ers are going to rebound from an 8-8 season, they’re going to need to build some momentum at home and perhaps go 6-2 or better.
But will the atmosphere at Levi’s be conducive to winning?
In the midst of their struggles in 2014, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami labeled the atmosphere at Levi’s Stadium as “relatively tranquil,” and said it was nothing like it was at “rowdy, earthy, muddy, title-consecrated Candlestick Park.”
Can that change? And what comes first, a team that wins at home and creates a rowdy environment? Or does a rowdy environment lead to a winning team?
The Niners and their fans will be eager to find out in 2015.