Editor’s note: Read Insider Matt Maiocco’s reports from the UK all week long as the 49ers gear up for their Week 8 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London
LONDON – The 49ers are living and practicing 20 miles away from the vibrant capital city of England.
Just as they did three years ago when they played their first regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, the 49ers are spending most of the week in the rolling countryside at The Grove, a luxury resort and spa in Watford.
This time, the 49ers could be more susceptible to getting caught up in the unique experience. After all, they face the worst team in football on Sunday and should win handily.
But with their first full practice scheduled for Wednesday, the 49ers say they are approaching their game against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars with the same single-minded focus exhibited during their current four-game win streak.
“Stay focused,” 49ers running back Frank Gore said. “As a team we have to treat it like a business trip. We’re here for a game. Jacksonville is an NFL team, and we have to be ready. We have to be ready. We can’t look at their record. We have to be ready and focused.”
The 49ers have become accustomed to the kind of one-week trip they are experiencing. In 2011 and 2012, the club practiced in Youngstown, Ohio, for the second leg of back-to-back games in Eastern time zones.
And, of course, the 49ers finished last season with a week of practice in New Orleans, leading up to their loss in Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens.
“We have done it before,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “This is our second try to London, and we also went to Youngstown for that week, too. Everybody here is used to the long trips, and I think it is beneficial. Everybody gets to spend a lot of time together as a team.”
The 49ers gave up a home game in 2010 to play the Denver Broncos at Wembley Stadium. The 49ers got acclimated to the time-zone change with their trip to the United Kingdom immediately following a game in Charlotte, N.C., against the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers trailed by seven points early in the fourth quarter, but rallied for a 24-16 victory over the Broncos, who traveled late in the week.
Again, the 49ers made the trip to London straight from their 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday. The 49ers arrived in the early afternoon, London time, on Monday. Some of the team attended a community event with the Tottenham Hotspur premier league soccer team.
The 49ers had the day off on Tuesday in advance of their full practice scheduled for Wednesday.
“I think you have to make it as normal as possible,” 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. “Although you are out of your element, you have to try to stick to your schedule. You have to continue to do the things that you have done up to this point. It’s a task because we are going across seas. For myself and a lot of the guys, I think we will try to stick to our routines as much as possible.”
The 49ers are trying to keep this week simple. And nobody reduces distractions as well as veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith.
“It’s no big deal,” Smith said. “You hop on the plane. You either fly east or west. You deal with what is in front of you, I guess. It shouldn’t be a problem.”