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49ers Healthy Heading into Bye Week

Posted Oct 30, 2012

If given the choice, Jim Harbaugh would want the bye week to come directly in the middle of a 16-game regular season.

The 49ers coach is getting his wish this season when his 6-2 team will take the weekend off following a 24-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night.

With a two-game lead in the NFC West, Harbaugh has given his players the week off as part of a “Let’s Make a Deal” moment that took place three weeks ago.

Harbaugh and the team worked out an agreement that the team would get an extra day off for each win, plus the league’s mandatory four days of rest. Starting Wednesday, the team will have six days off for their efforts against the Seahawks and Cardinals in back-to-back weeks.

“That was a deal we made,” Harbaugh explained. “Let’s make a deal – like the T.V. show.”

Harbaugh joked that his players were mostly clueless about the 70s game show from his youth, but were happy to have the time off to rest their bodies for the remaining eight games.

“Anytime you can get some rest in the NFL, especially late in the season, I think it’s beneficial,” said left tackle Joe Staley, who was limited in practice last week while battling an illness.

The time off will not only help Staley but San Francisco’s entire roster which remains relatively healthy through eight contests.

As for Harbaugh, the off time will be spent in two different ways: self-scouting and preparations for a Week 10 home game against the St. Louis Rams.

“That’ll be another big division opponent,” Harbaugh added.

Players inside the locker room are pleased to have gotten off to a strong start in consecutive seasons under Harbaugh (winning six of the first eight games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001-02), but to a man, they understand the biggest battles are still on the schedule.

“Every game counts, but this is when it really counts,” explained defensive tackle Ray McDonald. “Going into November-December – the last part of the season – that’s when you want to make your playoff run.”

McDonald plans on staying around the facility throughout the week. He won’t be alone. Many of the 49ers who live locally in the Bay Area intend to work out at the facility during the time off. Others who make their residence outside the area are trusted to get their bodies right for next week.

“The approach is they have a bye and we’ll take a small break,” Harbaugh explained. “(We) Trust that the guys are going to work out.”

The week isn’t so much about strengthening the body as it is about recuperation.

“It’s a long season, no matter who you are, you’re going to have aches and pains,” McDonald reasoned. “This week off is really going to help our whole team get their bodies back right.”

Vernon Davis, however, might be the lone player in the locker room who’s not looking forward to the idle time.

“I like to keep going,” the active tight end said.

Davis wants to keep the momentum going, but on the other hand, he understands that the time is valuable for banged-up teammates.

“It can be a good thing for guys who are injured and not healthy at the moment,” Davis said. “They have a chance to get themselves back together – it can be a good thing having the bye week – I’m not mad at it. I’ll take it.”

Davis plans on watching games this weekend, too. He’ll attend church first, then hang around the house to watch future opponents.

The 49ers have four home and four road games on the schedule, including two road contests against playoff teams from 2011 (New England and New Orleans), plus a second “Monday Night Football” matchup against the Chicago Bears in two weeks.

Fortunately for the 49ers, this bye week will serve as a second in-season break of sorts.

Following a Week 7 Thursday night win over Seattle, the team enjoyed a lengthy break prior to Monday’s win.

“That was a pretty unique situation we had there with the Thursday night game and then playing on a Monday night, we got another extra bye almost,” Staley said.

Knowing his coach, Staley believes the 49ers will make the most of the down time.

“Coach Harbaugh takes advantage of the extra time he gets and makes sure to use it wisely,” the left tackle said. “I think this week will be the same thing, guys have nagging injuries, everyone does at this time, I think it’ll be good to take advantage of the time and get extra treatment.”

With the extra time, the 49ers can also bask in the excitement of the San Francisco Giants 2012 World Series win.

Harbaugh said the 49ers took a lot of inspiration from seeing the Giants’ conquests.

“There are so many ways there's an attack on the team mentality, the team concept from so many different directions,” Harbaugh said. “The team that won't be divided, that stays together fights for each other, that one team at the season, they get called ‘champions.’ That was really was evident with this San Francisco Giants team.”

If the 49ers continue to fight for one another like they have in the first eight weeks of the 2012 season, perhaps they’ll be called a similar name as the Giants when it’s all said and done.

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