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49ers Feel ‘Tested’ from UK Experience

Posted Oct 30, 2013

The 49ers will look to continue momentum from the current five-game winning streak into the second half of the 2013 season.

Since Jim Harbaugh became the 49ers in 2011, the franchise has experienced just about everything in the NFL.

There have been short weeks of preparation, week-long trips to the Midwest and most recently, an international stay in England. They’ve been to the Super Bowl, too.

No stage is too big or too small for San Francisco.

“We feel like we can play through anything now,” veteran safety Donte Whitner said after the team’s 42-10 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. “We feel like we’ve been tested. We’ve been through a lot of adversity in this football season and we feel like it’s going to carry us through the second half.”

At 6-2, the 49ers are one game behind the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West and will have eight games to catch up and attempt to win a third consecutive division crown under Harbaugh’s coaching staff.

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In the team’s remaining eight games, the 49ers will face all four teams in the NFC South, each NFC West team and the Washington Redskins. Those teams have a combined 28-31 record through eight weeks of the regular season.

Only the Carolina Panthers (4-3), New Orleans Saints (6-1) and Seahawks (7-1) have winning records.

Whitner and his head coach believe the 49ers have not reached their full potential.

“We have a lot of improvement,” Whitner said.

Following a 1-2 start to the season, the first losing record in Harbaugh’s tenure with the 49ers, San Francisco’s head coach saw his team cut back on penalties and play better team football in all three phases of the game.

“It’s a great job by the fellas in that regard,” Harbaugh said on Tuesday. “Execution’s been good, getting better and you keep seeing that we can, that there’s even, you play good football and there’s room for improvement, ways that we can improve. So, that is the one most encouraging thing is that we’re playing good and we can get better.”

During the bye week, the 49ers are holding “opportunity practices” for young players looking to get better at football by practicing football. The latter statement is a phrase often said by Harbaugh, who is eager to give first- and second-year players the opportunity to get practice reps while veterans enjoy time away.

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Harbaugh even noted that some of the veterans were at the facility on Monday, including starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

A long flight home from London didn’t spoil the team’s experience in London and it didn't derail key veterans from coming into work during the bye. Players will think back fondly on a dominant performance at Wembley Stadium and will look to continue the momentum of a five-game winning streak when they host the Panthers on Nov. 10.

“London experience was great,” said Kaepernick, who made his first trip to Europe with the team. “We got to see the city a little bit. The people were real nice, we had a great time. It’s been a great overall experience.”

Left tackle Joe Staley noted that the week was challenging, but it paid off in the end.

“I thought the players handled it really well,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “It was a unique experience – traveling as far as we did overseas – everybody was really focused and locked in. We still understand we had business to do and we’re all really happy the result.”

 

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