By Jerrell Richardson
After a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and the New York Jets next on the schedule, San Francisco did not have a lot of things going their way Sunday. In the game against the Vikings, anything that could have gone wrong did, and the team looked nothing like the one that was gaining so much praise from analysts, around the league. To make matters worse, with back to back Eastern opponents, most teams from the West Coast would be stuck in no-man’s land and not sure how to approach this dilemma. However, San Francisco was faced with a very similar situation last year, and hope that the same plan they used last year will yield the same results this year.
Home Sweet Away
Instead of flying back to California, dealing with the distractions that come with being at home, adjusting to the time change, then hopping back on a plane to fly to New York, San Francisco set up camp in Ohio, at Youngstown State. One could call Youngstown State, “49er Camp East,” as this is not the first time they have prepared for an opponent there. Just last year, they practiced at the same place for their contest against the Philadelphia Eagles, after playing the Cincinnati Bengals the week before. Youngstown State was so good to the team that coach Jim Harbaugh mentioned it in his post-game victory speech. The hope this year is that that Youngstown State will again find its way into the post game (victory) shout-outs.
Close Knit Team
The stay out East is smart outside of the obvious reasons. The best thing about this decision is that the team will grow closer. When at home, the routine for most players is practice, home and back to practice. The difference now is that after practice they are all going back to the same hotel and spending some quality time with each other. Harbaugh pointed out that last year, this allowed him to get to know his players better and they were able to grow closer to him, and each other. In any team sport, a divided locker room can spell trouble. Part of what makes this team so special is that every player on the roster is willing to go to war for their coach and the man next to them, and their stay in Ohio should do nothing but reinforce this.
3-1 or 2-2?
In regards to improving their play on the field, there is nothing that Harbaugh really needs to say as the errors in the prior game were, for the most part, self inflicted. There should really be no reason for concern as the team was in the exact same spot last year record wise. Nobody expected the team to go 16-0 this year, so hopefully the loss serves as a wake up call, and the layover serves as a bonding experience so that at the end of the year the team can look at its loss to Minnesota and their stay at Youngstown State as a defining moment in this season. This had better be the case because if they leave New York with a 2-2 record, they may be looking back at this season with a completely different outlook.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.