Hertfordshire, England might as well be Santa Clara.
The 49ers' approach to their game this week against the Jaguars in London at Wembley Stadium is business as usual. Their amenities 20 miles outside of England's biggest city have allowed the team to keep its focus on football despite being over 5,000 miles from home.
“It's a great place to set up camp. Honker down in a great football environment,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I think we have everything we need. Great setup here at The Grove, football oasis. So, it's been a pleasure.”
The circumstances around the trip over the pond couldn't have worked out better for San Francisco, which has made a habit of spending at least one week a season away from home. The past two seasons the team has spent a week in Ohio during back-to-back East Coast away games from the West Coast, which, Harbaugh said, helps make this trip very similar.
Jacksonville being the opponent doesn't hurt, either.
The winless Jaguars don't figure to present much of a challenge for a 49ers team that has won four straight, something it didn't do during the regular season all last year. The 49ers opened as a 15.5-point favorite.
For Harbaugh the trip has several positives.
“The team really can spend more time together, getting to know each other even better. Everybody's got a story,” he said. “A chance to spend time in the rooms at the hotel here, or more time with the coaches to watch tape. You don't have to drive home. You don't have to drive into work. You really just come right down the elevator, or the lift.”
For a player like quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has achieved rock-star status in the San Francisco Bay Area, the trip has allowed for some much-appreciated anonymity. He spent some time on the players' day off on Tuesday doing some sight-seeing in London with teammates.
“I like London. We had a good time out there [Tuesday], got to see a few things,” Kaepernick said.
“A couple people, but for the most part it was peaceful,” he said. “It was nice.”
Kaepernick agreed with the decision to head over there early, which hasn't always been the decision made by NFL teams leading into games in London.
“It's good for us to get here early so we can get adjusted,” Kaepernick said. “Get that extra time where we can get our clock right and get back on our normal schedule. So, I think that helps us moving forward.”
It's the 49ers' second trip to London, following their game against the Broncos in 2010. San Francisco was the designated home team in that one and won 24-16.