49ers again choose Youngstown for 5-day layover

September 21, 2012, 12:48 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- A year ago, the 49ers took a 10-day road trip that included five days of game-planning, study, workouts, practices and bonding in Youngstown, Ohio.The unique itinerary proved successful as the 49ers returned to the Bay Area with road wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles, the team's signature come-from-behind regular-season victory.When this season's schedule came out in the spring, coach Jim Harbaugh saw a chance to do it all again with back-to-back 49ers road games against Minnesota and the New York Jets.So when the 49ers leave Friday afternoon for their Sunday game against the Vikings, the club will not return to the Bay Area until after the team's Week 4 game against the Jets."I thought it was a real positive when we went through it last year, that we were together," Harbaugh said. "It gave us a great chance to be around each other. You stayed longer at the meals, got to know each other more, found out a different guy's story that you didn't know before you had a longer conversation with him than sometimes you did at the facility."So, I didn't feel that that was a tough thing. I thought it was a positive thing."Immediately after Sunday's game against the Vikings, the 49ers will take a 90-minute flight to Youngstown, where the players and staff will prepare Monday through Friday for the Sept. 30 game against the Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.The 49ers will save themselves more than 6 12 hours of flight time between games with their five-day layover in Youngstown."It's tough to be away from your family, for sure," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "At the same time, thinking back to last year, it was a good experience. For us, it was another little minicamp. You only have 53 guys going, all together, and nothing to do there. You practice, you prepare and you hang out with each other. I thought it was a good thing for us last year. I enjoyed it."The 49ers' ties to Ohio date back to 1977 when Youngstown shopping mall developer Edward DeBartolo Sr. purchased the 49ers and put his son, Edward Jr., in charge of the day-to-day operations. Denise DeBartolo York was an equal co-owner, though she remained far from the spotlight until she and her husband, John York, took control of the 49ers in 2000.Their eldest son, Jed York, the 49ers' CEO, grew up in the Youngstown area and attended Cardinal Mooney High School. The DeBartolo and York families were inducted into the Youngstown State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 for their many contributions.Following the team's successful road trip of a year ago, the 49ers showed gratitude to their hosts for the week."Our team and Youngstown share a very special trait, a hard-nosed and determined work ethic that serves each extremely well," Jed York stated. "The city should take great pride in knowing that their tremendous hospitality and effort helped our team complete a two-win road trip. The entire 49ers organization thanks those who went out of their way to accommodate our needs."Harbaugh, in particular, seemed to enjoy the experience. He spoke glowingly of a vacant lot behind the team hotel, partially obscured by trees, where the team held its walk-throughs before boarding buses to practice and work out at Youngstown State."Youngstown State has been an excellent facility for us to get our work in. It's outstanding," Harbaugh said afterward. "The weight room's fantastic, our guys had great workouts in there. Really everything we need, you guys have here."

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