Joe Staley stands about 6-5 and tips the scales at about 320 pounds. He doesn't exactly have the trim, rippled-abs, built-for-endurance body we've been watching on the pitch during the World Cup. And yet the 49ers left tackle will give the other football a whirl Thursday in San Jose following an open practice session given by Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League. Both Staley and quarterback Alex Smith will watch the practice. Afterward they'll try their hand - er, foot - with a few penalty kicks. (They must not have invited Nedney for fear that he might have injured the goalie).
The exhibition is yet another event tied to the 49ers' Oct. 31 game at London's Wembley Stadium. The 49ers hope to develop a relationship with Tottenham Hotspur - they're know in England as the Spurs - to the point where the 49ers will hold a promotional event with them in London in October. Vernon Davis and Mike Singletary are in London this week to promote the Halloween game, as is team owner John York. York chairs the NFL's International Committee, which might explain why the 49ers are taking the pre-game publicity so seriously.
If the 49ers and Spurs are to become friendly, I figured 49ers fans might want to know more about their English cousins. So I went to my Premier League source, my soon-to-be brother-in-law Simon Shaw, who is British. Here's his report: He said that Tottenham Hotspur was a reasonably big club in North London with a reputation for good, technically sound players. They finished a pleasantly surprising fourth in the most recent season, displacing one of the Big Four teams, Liverpool.
When I asked him to compare them to an NFL team, Simon - he lives in Boston and is a budding NFL fan - cited the Eagles. "You expect them to get into the playoffs but don't expect them to go too far." He didn't say which club, Philly or Tottenham, has more hooligans.
-- Matt Barrows