NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - INSIDE SLANT
Hertfordshire, England might as well be Santa Clara, Calif.
The San Francisco 49ers' approach to their game this week against the Jaguars in London at Wembley Stadium is business as usual. Their amenities 20 miles outside of England's biggest city have allowed the team to keep its focus on football despite being over 5,000 miles from home.
"It's a great place to set up camp. Hunker down in a great football environment," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I think we have everything we need. Great setup here at The Grove, football oasis. So, it's been a pleasure."
The circumstances around the trip over the pond couldn't have worked out better for San Francisco, which has made a habit of spending at least one week a season away from home. The past two seasons the team has spent a week in Ohio during back-to-back East Coast away games from the West Coast, which, Harbaugh said, helps make this trip very similar.
Jacksonville being the opponent doesn't hurt, either.
The winless Jaguars don't figure to present much of a challenge for a 49ers team that has won four straight, something it didn't do during the regular season all last year. The 49ers opened as a 15.5-point favorite.
For Harbaugh the trip has several positives.
"The team really can spend more time together, getting to know each other even better. Everybody's got a story," he said. "A chance to spend time in the rooms at the hotel here, or more time with the coaches to watch tape. You don't have to drive home. You don't have to drive into work. You really just come right down the elevator, or the lift."
For a player like quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has achieved rock-star status in the San Francisco Bay Area, the trip has allowed for some much-appreciated anonymity. He spent some time on the players' day off on Tuesday doing some sight-seeing in London with teammates.
"I like London. We had a good time out there (Tuesday), got to see a few things," Kaepernick said.
"A couple people, but for the most part it was peaceful," he said. "It was nice."
Kaepernick agreed with the decision to head over there early, which hasn't always been the decision made by NFL teams leading into games in London.
"It's good for us to get here early so we can get adjusted," Kaepernick said. "Get that extra time where we can get our clock right and get back on our normal schedule. So, I think that helps us moving forward."
It's the 49ers' second trip to London, following their game against the Broncos in 2010. San Francisco was the designated home team in that one and won 24-16.
SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. Jaguars lead series, 2-1. The loser in all three matchups failed to score in double digits. San Francisco won the last meeting, in 2009.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - NOTES, QUOTES
--WR Mario Manningham, CB Eric Wright and rookie DL Tank Carradine are all options to be activated before Sunday's game against the Jaguars. However, it's unlikely because of the bye week next week and the caliber of this week's opponent. It should also be noted that it would be awkward to cut someone while in Europe.
"It's possible," Harbaugh said. "There's a chance, yeah."
--While there is no official captain on special teams, Harbaugh noted four players that have stood out recently, specifically on coverage. The 49ers' coverage units have been significantly better than a year ago.
"The guys that are consistently showing up with the outstanding play are C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone, Kassim Osgood, Darryl Morris, made two huge plays in this last game," Harbaugh said.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- 49ers player in his home country this week, Lawrence Okoye, who is on injured reserve.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really thought two percent would be a good goal. If we could improve two percent as a football team this week, but might have underestimated that. I think we might be able to get three percent, or four percent, or maybe even five percent better with the surroundings we have here and the accommodations. This is a football oasis." -- Coach Jim Harbaugh when asked what he's looking forward to most of playing at Wembley Stadium.
NFL Team Report - San Francisco 49ers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--WR Quinton Patton (foot) did not practice Wednesday and will not play against the Jaguars.
--WR Jon Baldwin (illness) did not practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--DT Glenn Dorsey (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--DE Ray McDonald (biceps) did not practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--DL Justin Smith (shoulder) did not practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--RG Alex Boone (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--RT Anthony Davis (shoulder) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--RB Frank Gore (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--CB Carlos Rogers (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--LB Patrick Willis (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--LB Navorro Bowman (wrist) practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--TE Vernon Davis (hamstring) practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--QB Colin Kaepernick (foot) practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--S Donte Whitner (knee) practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play against the Jaguars.
--WR Kyle Williams (knee) practiced fully Wednesday and is expected to play against the Jaguars.
GAME PLAN: San Francisco needs to follow the game plan it has used over the past few weeks: establish the run, don't turn the ball over and don't give up big plays. Jacksonville doesn't figure to be much of a challenge, but it is the NFL and the "any given Sunday" motif applies. As a more prominent franchise, the Wembley crowd is expected to be pro-49ers despite their designation as the away team.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman vs. Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley -- There was strong speculation last year that Roman could end up as the coach of the Jaguars. His college roommate, David Caldwell, is the Jaguars' general manager and the 49ers offense was the talk of the NFL during Caldwell's pursuit for a coach last year. Will Sunday's game make Caldwell second-guess himself? Bradley is heavily involved with the defense after serving as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator.
--Jaguars DL vs. 49ers OL -- Lost in the Jaguars' winless season is the play of its defensive line. The unit is an obvious strong point on a team lacking in them. It'll be a good test for the 49ers' offensive line.