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49ers Eager to Return to Practice

Posted Jan 30, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – Jim Harbaugh went down to the second floor of the team hotel on Wednesday morning to find it was bustling with activity. It was only 7 a.m. and the 49ers were knee-deep in preparations for Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens.

Since they landed in the Bayou on Sunday evening, the 49ers have spent much of their time facing the media and answering questions from scores of reporters. But on Wednesday, the team was scheduled to hold its first full-on Super Bowl practice at the New Orleans Saints training facility.

As Harbaugh opened his press conference on Wednesday morning, he relayed comments from veteran long-snapper Brian Jennings, who told him, “’We’ve been waiting for this day for three days.’”

Harbaugh was quick to share his impressions of his hard-working team at the hotel, which has been turned into something of a makeshift 49ers fortress.

“It’s like a beaver dam is being built over at the coaches’ offices just down the stairs,” Harbaugh said. “Very excited. Everybody is attacking this day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. Every coaching room is aglow with video on. … Just fires me up. Very fired up this morning to get over to the Saints facility with our team and practice.”

Not only is the 49ers coach excited to get back to the practice field, but his players are, too. Staying with the team in the close quarters of the hotel has its benefits, but the 49ers are eager to strap on their cleats and get back to what they do best: play football.

For defensive co-captain Justin Smith, it seems like it’s been longer than 10 days since the 49ers claimed the NFC Championship with their 28-24 win in Atlanta. As he stepped behind the microphone on his podium Wednesday, Smith said to reporters, “You guys aren’t sick of us yet, huh?”

“Two weeks is taking a little bit of time now,” Smith said. “I think everybody knows now if a guy likes spaghetti or cereal. It’s time to go play.”

The 49ers got their first taste of the Saints practice facility on Tuesday when they got a lay of the land. Smith admitted it was an odd feeling being in the room of another professional team, even though the 49ers have added some signage like the “Forty Niner Way” street sign to bring a bit of home with them to New Orleans.

Regardless of where the field is, tight end Vernon Davis is just ready to get between the lines.

“I’m extremely excited about practice,” Davis said. “I love practice because that’s where it all starts. That’s where you get better, that’s where the great ones become great. It all starts in practice. We have to continue to put our gameplan in and I’m excited about it.”

For most – if not all – of the 49ers, they’d rather face 11 defenders than the thousands of the media members that have descended upon New Orleans for America’s biggest sports spectacle. Tuesday marked the madness of media day at the Superdome, while Wednesday featured all players and coaches sitting around tables of a hotel ball room to answer questions from reporters.

“You get drained on coming here,” Delanie Walker said. “Yesterday we did it and it’s the same thing today. We’ve been asked the same questions over and over like the answers are going to change. That’s the hard part, is this part right here. The easy part is playing football.”

Amidst the flood of media attention and obligations, the 49ers are back to practicing on a normal Wednesday, Thursday and Friday schedule. But normal isn’t a word that Harbaugh wants to use this week when describing the team’s practice efforts. Not when the Super Bowl is just around the corner.

“I don’t know that it has to be a normal one,” Harbaugh said of Wednesday’s upcoming practice. “It could be an exceptional one. It could be an extraordinary Wednesday for us. That would be our intent and really our expectation; to see if we can make this the best Wednesday of the entire season.”

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