49ers plan for cold, wind, rain in NFC title game
Offensive lineman Adam Snyder and 49ers special teams standout Blake Costanzo sat side by side in outdoor ice tubs, each sporting a beanie to keep his head warm while playing with their respective cellphones.
''I don't know why they do that outside, torture,'' rookie fullback Bruce Miller quipped Friday after observing the duo on one of the colder days this winter.
Those are Jim Harbaugh's kind of guys, tough to the core, ice in their veins. He wants his players ready for whatever weather comes this weekend - cold, rain and wind.
''The only thing we have to fear is being unprepared,'' Harbaugh said Friday.
Harbaugh hoped for precipitation this week, and he got it - just not enough to satisfy the San Francisco coach who wanted his team to practice on a soggy field ahead of Sunday's NFC championship game against the New York Giants.
Costanzo and Snyder want their bodies to be as fresh as possible for any challenging situation on the field or with the field Sunday.
''It's the only way to get by. Week 20,'' Costanzo said.
''Rite of passage, keep your legs fresh,'' added Snyder.
Safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner stretched and warmed up while sporting hats of their own, Goldson's floppy black cap covering his braids and bouncing from side to side as he skipped across the field to loosen his limbs.
More rain was in the forecast in the Bay Area, and the 49ers pulled out the cold-weather clothing before working out in chilly conditions with a stiff wind Friday.
Harbaugh expects the field at Candlestick Park to be in good shape considering the grass was replaced before the team's Monday Night game Dec. 19 against the Steelers.
Running back Frank Gore sure hopes that's the case. He has some extra incentive going against the Giants after his franchise-record streak of five straight games with 100 yards rushing ended with a knee injury and his first career game with zero yards in the Niners' 27-20 home win Nov. 13.
''As players playing on a wet field we don't like it,'' he said. ''But if we have to, we've got to go out there and do it.''
The 49ers have been game-planning all week with the idea of facing poor conditions.
''You try to play the game in your head all week and when you have bad weather, you just picture that field all mudded up,'' offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. ''You start going through contingencies in your mind. There's no doubt, you have to.''
''I think the receivers probably have an advantage on the defensive backs because they know where they're going and the defensive backs have to react. So, if the footing is poor, the advantage is for the offense. On the same token, though, running backs can't hit a hole or can't make a cut that they usually would, so advantage defense. I think it works both ways.''
Harbaugh said he knew the wet weather was on its way when he woke up early Thursday.
''I noticed when I was standing on my balcony at about 6:20, 6:30, that area, looked out and saw a very red sky,'' Harbaugh said before Thursday's practice. ''That means, red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor take warning. So, I anticipate that we'll have some precipitation today, some weather, and that will be a great thing for us.
''Admiral Bull Halsey once said, `If you're going to fight in the North Atlantic, then you got to prepare in the North Atlantic.' They're anticipating some rain on Sunday.''