Frequent-flier Niners ready for Seattle trip
Jet lag hasn’t hit the San Francisco 49ers, at least not on the scoreboard as they’ve piled up playoff wins and frequent-flier miles.
Bay Area News Group
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Jet lag hasn’t hit the San Francisco 49ers, at least not on the scoreboard as they’ve piled up playoff wins and frequent-flier miles.
“We’ve become accustomed to traveling, and the last few games have us prepared for Seattle,” special-teams ace Bubba Ventrone said Tuesday.
A fourth straight Sunday will be spent in an opposing stadium, only a Super Bowl berth is on the line in this trip into Seattle’s jet-engine-loud stadium.
“It kind of feels like we’re on autopilot,” defensive tackle Ray McDonald said of their daily schedule rather any foggy mindset. “We get up in the morning, go through our normal routine. This is what we enjoy.”
The 49ers traveled an NFL-high 32,948 miles in the regular season. Nearly 10,000 miles more will be soared through these NFC playoffs, with victorious stops in Green Bay and Carolina en route to Sunday’s connection in Seattle for the NFC Championship Game.
All those frequent-flier miles won’t get the 49ers (14-4) a free, cross-country trip to their ideal, final destination. That would be a 5,102-mile, round-trip journey to East Rutherford, N.J., site of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2.
So just how do they minimize any desynchronosis (or, jet lag)?
“We’re just taking care of our bodies during the week, getting in cold tubs, working out in the weight room,” McDonald said. “Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and his staff are doing a good job getting us rest.”
Harbaugh’s latest maneuver is to leave during Friday’s rush hour to get up to Seattle. That’s a day earlier than the 49ers’ normal trips up the coast, the last two of which ended in 42-13 and 29-3 blowout losses.
It bears noting that Harbaugh’s 49ers are undefeated when they’ve departed on Fridays for playoff games. That includes the past two Sundays, as well as last season’s NFC Championship Game in Atlanta. (They arrived in New Orleans on a Sunday night before losing last season’s Super Bowl a week later.)
More than 30 players return from that Super Bowl, and on the literally long quest back to that stage, the 49ers have used their trips to strengthen their bond.
“It’s good we like each other,” linebacker Dan Skuta said. “We’d be in trouble if we didn’t because we’ve spent a lot of time together. Going to London (for a week in late October) maybe prepared us for what we’re doing now.”
Added guard Mike Iupati: “It’s fun. Everybody’s awesome. We’re brothers, pretty much.”
The 49ers are trying to become related to the 2010 Green Bay Packers, 2007 New York Giants and 2005 Baltimore Ravens, a trio of wild-card predecessors who won Super Bowls after winning three playoff games on the road.
“Why not us?” asked cornerback Carlos Rogers, who hopes to play Sunday after a two-game, hamstring-causing hiatus. “We built this road being the (No. 5) seed we’re in, and we’ve got to come from the bottom back up.”
The 49ers will begin practicing Wednesday for their third straight NFC Championship Game. Tuesday, they studied film of how the Arizona Cardinals won 17-10 in Seattle last month, the Seahawks’ only home loss since one to the 49ers on Christmas Eve 2011.
“That’s the result we’re looking for: a win,” left tackle Joe Staley said.
Added Rogers: “(Arizona) came with the mindset that you’ve got to get in those guys’ face and pressure (quarterback) Russell Wilson.
“ As a defense, we have to get off the field as much as we can and leave them one dimensional.”