49ers notes: Team leads NFL in air miles

Published: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 - 3:20 pm

LONDON – The 49ers are the fly-away winners when it comes to most distance traveled by an NFL team this season, with a big chunk of their total coming on this trip to England.

Coach Jim Harbaugh is well aware of that distinction. When a reporter mentioned Friday that the 49ers will cover 30,000 miles this season, Harbaugh corrected her. "Thirty-two thousand," he said.

To be even more precise, it's 32,948 miles, which is 6,000 miles more than the second-most-traveled team, the Chargers.

"It's something that we're used to," said Harbaugh, noting that the 49ers are consistently in the top three when it comes to miles traveled in the NFL. "It's that old saying – you'll play 'em anytime, anywhere, any place."

How far is 32,948 miles? Well, the circumference of Earth is 24,901 miles. So it's as if the 49ers rounded the globe and kept going a little farther.

Foreign soil – The 49ers spent their final practice here on an artificial field at North London's Allianz Park, home of the Saracens rugby team.

The team had been practicing on a grass field, but it was in bad shape – "very muddy, lot of guys slipping, falling," safety Donte Whitner said – prompting the move.

Still, Whitner said a soft practice field could prove to be a good warmup if it rains on Wembley Stadium's grass field Sunday. "We'll deal with it," he said of possibly soggy conditions. "We'll use some of the longer cleats to screw in. A lot of times … you have to shorten up your steps, quicken your steps."

If that's the case, Whitner said the teams' receivers will have an advantage over the defensive backs, who will have to react to the offensive players' moves.

Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was suspended for the first four games this year but has 384 receiving yards in the three games since.

"You can see they're featuring him," cornerback Tarell Brown said. "He uses his body well. It's something where all of us (defensive backs) will have to be on the top of our game to cover that guy."

Et cetera – Whitner said he was still bothered by the knee injury suffered last Sunday in Nashville. But he will start Sunday's game, which is followed by a bye week. The only 49ers player on the active roster who did not practice Friday was rookie wide receiver Quinton Patton, who is recovering from a broken foot suffered in Week 4.

• Harbaugh and the 49ers turned tourist after their Friday practice.

Harbaugh said his goal was to visit Winston Churchill's war cabinet offices, which are under the city and are where the former prime minister ran London's World War II effort during the Blitz. "That would be a highlight of my life," Harbaugh said.

• The only player fined in last weekend's Titans-49ers game was Tennessee defender Akeem Ayers. His unnecessary roughness penalty drew a $15,750 fine.

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Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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