Wednesday will mark the San Francisco 49ers first full practice this week in London. The team is preparing for a Week 8 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. One of the most important things the Niners will need to accomplish leading up to the game is staying focused amongst all the hoopla.
The 49ers arrived in London on Monday in the early afternoon, and some of players attended an event with English Premier League soccer club, Tottenham Hotspur. On Tuesday, the players had the day off. In order to keep team distractions to a minimum, Jim Harbaugh is having his team practice about 20 miles outside of London. The team is practicing at The Grove, a luxury resort and spa in Watford in the countryside.
In 2010, the 49ers had a similar long overseas trip to play in London against the Denver Broncos. The game before, San Francisco played against the Carolina Panthers which got the team used to playing in a different time-zone. Just like last week’s win against the Tennessee Titans.
Still, there will be distractions but the players will need to keep this week as simple as possible to stay concentrated on their winless opponent. The only way the 49ers lose to the Jaguars is if they lose their focus during the week.
I think you have to make it as normal as possible. Although you are out of your element, you have to try to stick to your schedule. You have to continue to do the things that you have done up to this point. It’s a task because we are going across seas. For myself and a lot of the guys, I think we will try to stick to our routines as much as possible. ~ 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin
Even though the 49ers are in the UK to play a game, they will have some time to see the sights of London. After Friday’s practice the Niners will move a hotel in central part of the city and on the way they will stop by some of the monuments. Harbaugh said of doing some sightseeing,
Hopefully, 10 Downing Street will be one of them. I think you get the picture. We’ll go to Buckingham Palace and mess with the guards a little bit. We’re going to see Big Ben.
Can you just imagine 70 football players jump out of the bus, snap some photos, back in the bus? Be like one of those ‘European Vacation’ movies with Chevy Chase. ‘Alright, stand right here, Clark.’ I’m going to be Clark Griswold. That’s what I was picturing, yeah.
My most favorite thing to do when visiting a new city is to get a local to either show you around town or tell you what places to go to and what to avoid. For the 49ers defensive tackle Lawrence Okoye, who is British, will serve as their tour guide. Okoye will not play in Sunday’s game because is on the Injured Reserve list with a sprained PCL in his knee.
According to reports, Okoye took Niner players out around town on their first night in London. He said fellow players “think I’m their Yellow Pages.” Harbaugh also added, “Lawrence has become a more popular guy on the team, I noticed.”
This is the third season in a row the 49ers have a road trip lasting over a week. In addition to traveling to London in 2010, the Niners have stayed in Youngstown, Ohio, the past two seasons. In 2011 and 2012, the Niners had back-to-back road games on the east coast. Harbaugh had his team get used to the eastern time-zone by staying in Youngstown for both games. The team is 3-1 during those long road trips. After Sunday’s game the 49ers will fly 11 hours back to San Francisco on Monday.