49ers with Matt Barrows

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49ers notes: British drawn to U.S. football

10/24/2013 12:00 AM

10/24/2013 8:16 AM

WATFORD, England – Joe Montana will hold a Quarterbacking 101 seminar in London today for aspiring young passers.

And there are more candidates than you might think.

American football became an officially recognized sport last year by the British University College and Sport, the governing body for university athletics in the United Kingdom.

Nearly 75 colleges and universities have an American-style football team and they play a tournament each year. This year's national champion was the Birmingham Lions, who defeated the Hertfordshire Hurricanes 17–13.

Montana will hold a one-hour coaching session at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre for approximately 15 quarterbacks who play for various teams. The former 49ers great also will be part of the NFL's fan rally at Trafalgar Square on Saturday promoting the 49ers' game Sunday against Jacksonville.

According to the NFL, UK participation in amateur football has risen since the league started having annual games at Wembley Stadium, growing by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007. The league says the 49ers are the third-most-popular team in the United Kingdom after the Patriots and Dolphins.

Of course, none of the young quarterbacks on hand today were alive to see Montana's most famous throw in 1982. But the NFL started to take root here in the 1980s, when the top game of the week was broadcast Sunday evenings. That means Montana's pupils may not fully grasp the significance of being taught by No. 16, but their dads might.

Mr. Anonymous – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become the most recognizable player on the 49ers, but he said he was able to navigate the streets of London on Tuesday with only "a couple" of people stopping him.

"For the most part, it was peaceful," he said. "It was nice."

Can Kaepernick, who has recently starred in national advertisements for McDonald's and Yahoo among others, do the same back home?

"No, not in the Bay Area," he said. "I don't try anymore."

Injuries – Starting safeties Donte Whitner and Eric Reid practiced Wednesday, and both are expected to play Sunday.

"I think they're going to be fine," coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Whitner injured his left knee late in Sunday's win over the Titans, and Reid rolled an ankle. Neither was on the field for Chris Johnson's 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The team practiced without starting defensive linemen Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey.

Smith is dealing with a shoulder injury and may get Wednesdays off for the rest of the season because of his veteran status. McDonald (biceps) and Dorsey (hamstring) are recovering from injuries.

All three are expected to play Sunday.

Rookie linebacker Nick Moody, who broke his hand earlier in the year, practiced. He is eligible to rejoin the roster Nov. 10.

About This Blog

Matt Barrows was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Sacramento Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green. Reach Barrows at mbarrows@sacbee.com.
Twitter: @mattbarrows

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