49ers settle in for a busy week in New Orleans

Published: Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 - 6:25 am

NEW ORLEANS – How are the 49ers going to handle the pressure, bright lights and the sheer foreignness of Super Bowl week?

Eh, it shouldn't be that much different than a week in Youngstown, Ohio, or the one the team spent in London in 2010, coach Jim Harbaugh and some of his players said Sunday. The 49ers have taken a week-long trip in each of the past three seasons and are 3-0 in those games.

Of course, their trips to Youngstown didn't begin with a water-cannon send-off at the San Jose airport, which is how the team left the Bay Area on Sunday afternoon.

And when the 49ers arrived in London, there weren't 20 camera crews and a hundred reporters from dozens of countries waiting for them at their hotel entrance.

There also wasn't a lot to do on the Ohio trips aside from filling up on scoops of Chocoholic Chunk at the tiny Handel's Ice Cream shop across the street.

There are decidedly more distractions in downtown New Orleans, which is already in the midst of its annual Mardi Gras celebration.

The 49ers' hotel is on the edge of the French Quarter, and notorious Bourbon Street is only two blocks to the north.

Harrah's casino is a block and a half in the opposite direction, and the 49ers won't have a curfew until Tuesday night.

Still, the goal this week, Harbaugh said, is to make things as routine as possible.

The schedule is very much like the trips the team has made to Youngstown the past two years. The 49ers arrived in Ohio on a Sunday night and then basically turned a hotel into their team headquarters as they prepared for the upcoming contest.

They've even used an adjacent parking lot for walk-through practices.

"It's a good thing that we've done this, really, the last two years," Harbaugh said. "We've stayed in a hotel, had our meetings in a hotel, and then go to a facility to practice and get ready for the game. Same approach as always, really."

As the home team, the 49ers will wear their red jerseys on game day and train at the Saints' facility in nearby Metarie.

The Ravens, who arrive today at 4 p.m. local time, will practice at Tulane University.

The Ravens will have one less day of media duties. But they also will have less time to familiarize themselves with their surroundings.

The 49ers even encroached on the Ravens' hotel.

While some teammates were tasked with sitting at podiums and talking with reporters, others – including quarterback Alex Smith – were three blocks away at the Hilton Riverside, the Ravens' home this week, having dinner.

For some 49ers, the week in New Orleans will seem like old times.

Center Jonathan Goodwin, for example, spent five years with the Saints and won a Super Bowl for New Orleans in 2009. He joked last week that he wanted his old locker back at the Saints' facility.

Goodwin said he planned to make the trip seem even more normal by visiting his former barber in Metarie and getting a haircut.

He was one of a dozen players who addressed the media after arriving in the Super Bowl city.

The others included safety Dashon Goldson, defensive end Justin Smith, tackle Joe Staley, linebacker Patrick Willis and quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was surrounded by the biggest crowd.

Justin Smith, who was dressed in a red T-shirt and a blue-collar trucker's cap that read "Justin Smith" on the front, insisted this was just another business trip for the 49ers.

"To me so far, it's felt like our London trip," he said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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