With Jim Harbaugh as coach, the 49ers have won on soggy fields, artificial turf and foreign soil. What they have yet to experience is frozen tundra, but it seems there’s no way to avoid it in their upcoming game.
The forecast in Green Bay, Wis., this week calls for light snow, wind-chill temperatures of minus-20 degrees on Wednesday and actual temperatures dipping to minus-6 degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast for Sunday is for a high of 17 degrees with the mercury dipping to 2 degrees at night. The game kicks off at 3:40 p.m. local time.
Jim Harbaugh shrugged at the dire predictions.
“Football weather is any weather,” he said Monday. “Once your body gets running around ... personally, I played in a zero-degree weather game and it didn’t feel any different than a 30-, 40-degree weather game.”
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The coldest game a Harbaugh-led 49ers team has had to endure was in New England last December when it was 34 degrees with a steady, freezing drizzle at kickoff. It was 35 degrees with the temperature dropping at kickoff for this season’s game at Washington. San Francisco won both contests.
The 49ers haven’t had to experience truly harsh January conditions in recent years because they either have hosted playoff games or played them on the road in domes – at Atlanta and in the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
This season, they likely will have to be road warriors if they are to make it to the Super Bowl, beginning Sunday at Lambeau Field.
The 49ers say they are built for it.
“It’s the Super Bowl on the line,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “Coldness goes out the window. You want to be great. You want to be remembered. These are the games you are remembered in – on the teams that fought no matter the temperature or situation.”
Receiver Anquan Boldin, whose Ravens team won a playoff game in Denver last year in a 13-degree chill, agreed.
“We are a team that’s built for anything,” he said. “We weathered the storm. We had ups and downs. Right now, I think we are playing pretty tough football.”
Boldin and the Ravens began last postseason with a home win over the Colts before winning on the road against Denver and New England.
For Boldin to repeat as a Super Bowl champion with the 49ers, they’ll likely have to win four consecutive road games, including the Super Bowl outdoors at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. on Feb. 2.
That also would mean that, including the end of the regular season, the 49ers will have gone on the road in six of their final seven weeks.
Harbaugh said he was looking into trimming some potential mileage.
If the 49ers win in Green Bay and the Saints beat the Eagles this weekend, the 49ers would then have to travel to Charlotte, N.C., to face the Panthers. Asked if he’d consider not returning to the Bay Area and preparing elsewhere after the Green Bay game, Harbaugh said, “I’ve given it some thought.”
The 49ers spent a week in Youngstown, Ohio – the hometown of their owners, the Yorks – before East Coast games in 2011 and 2012. They won both contests, against the Eagles in 2011 and last year against the Jets.
When will he reach a decision on a potential Midwest stopover?
“I’ll keep you posted,” Harbaugh said.