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49ers at Forefront of NFL’s International Growth

Posted Oct 23, 2013

The San Francisco 49ers visit to England marks the third time the team has played a regular season game outside of the United States.

The San Francisco 49ers feel at home overseas.

The popular NFL team is set to play in its third international regular season football game this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Moreover, the Week 8 matchup marks the second time in four years that the 49ers have participated in the NFL’s International Series at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

It’s a fitting location for the franchise. In 1988, San Francisco’s first international game, a preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins, took place at Wembley.

The organization is proud to represent professional football in a foreign market.

San Francisco’s co-chairman, Dr. John York, serves as the Chairman of the NFL’s Health & Safety Advisory Committee and is a member of both the league’s Audit and International Committees. York previously served as the International Committee’s Chairman.

READ: 49ERS DISCUSS UK EXPERIENCE

With members of the 49ers meeting the international and American press from the team’s England compound, the positive tone of the overall experience came across as a positive for the 5-2 club.

“It’s a great place to set up camp, hunker down in a football environment,” Jim Harbaugh said. “We have everything we need.”

The 49ers coach went on to call the team’s training setup, “a football oasis.”

Harbaugh was most pleased how his team could spend additional time together and learn more about each other despite being 5,342 miles away from the team’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

The football coach in Harbaugh was thrilled that players could watch film with their position coaches without having to drive back and home from work like they would back in the states.

“You really come right down the elevator, or the lift,” the 49ers coach said, earning a chuckle from the gathered press.

Getting around this season, however, won’t be so kind to Harbaugh’s team.

The 49ers will log the most travel miles in the NFL this season. With it taking 25,000 miles to travel around the world, the 49ers will be one of three teams (San Diego and Oakland) who will eclipse the 25,000-mile mark during the regular season in 2013. In addition, San Francisco will not only surpass 25,000 miles, they will reach over 32,000 miles after returning home from Arizona on Dec. 29th.

The team’s London excursion certainly adds to the travel log, but the players are focused on the task at hand, increasing an ongoing win-streak to five games before the bye week.

Colin Kaepernick said the players had a “peaceful” time while sightseeing in London on Tuesday. With the team heading out to practice for the first time in the U.K., the 49ers quarterback felt like his teammates were ready to begin preparing for Jacksonville.

“I feel like we’ve adjusted,” Kaepernick said. “I’m adjusted. We’re back to our normal week.”

San Francisco’s third-year quarterback has played in a number of challenging venues in his football career, but in his mind, Wembley seems like something far different from the others.

“I don’t think anything is going to compare to this weekend,” he said, before sharing how to remained focus in the big-game spotlight. “You’re focused on what you need to do to be successful in that place. You’re not worried about everything else that’s going on.”

The NFL will host three regular season games next year in London, the continuation of the league’s growing vision to build football awareness in England.

READ: WHY LAWRENCE OKOYE CHOSE FOOTBALL

San Francisco’s defensive line coach Jim Tomsula believes it’s a great idea.

The former defensive line coach for the England Monarchs and Scottish Claymores of the defunct NFL Europa, was outspoken on the NFL’s staying power in England.

“I think the sky’s the limit, I really do,” Tomsula said. “I think this is a fantastic game. I love being around it… When you look at this game, this game is for everybody. Guys that look like me can play this game.”