The 49ers, who have been kings of the east coast since Jim Harbaugh was hired, will get to test their road-game prowess a bit farther afield next season. The NFL announced today that the Jaguars will host the 49ers in the annual game in at Wembley Stadium in London.
The 49ers hosted the Broncos in London - and won 24-16 with Troy Smith as their starting quarterback - two years ago. Next year's game will be on October 27, 2013 at 10 a.m. (PT). Including exhibition games, it will be the 49ers' 11th international game.
"The 49ers are excited and privileged to once again serve as ambassadors for the NFL and the game of football internationally," CEO Jed York said in a statement. "Our 2010 experience in London was tremendous. The atmosphere at Wembley Stadium on game day was electric. The ability for us to share 49ers football with our Faithful fans internationally is a treat for everyone in our organization."
Left tackle Joe Staley was a bit more succinct. "Pretty pumped about playing in London again next season," he wrote in a Tweet.
The league likely will couple the trip with an east-coast game for the 49ers. In 2010, for example, they visited the Carolina Panthers before heading to England. On the team's schedule next year are games at the Buccaneers and Titans as well as one at the NFC East team that finishes in the same spot in that division as the 49ers do in the NFC West.
That is, if that team is the Giants, Eagles or Redskins, a visit to one of those cities before London would be a strong possibility.
The game also is likely to be embraced by Harbaugh, a military history buff who has a framed photograph of Winston Churchill flashing the victory sign behind his desk at team headquarters.
-- Matt Barrows