NEW ORLEANS - How are the 49ers going to handle the pressure, bright lights and the sheer foreignness of Super Bowl week?
Eh, it shouldn't be that much different than a week in Youngstown, Ohio or the one the team spent in London England in 2010, both Jim Harbaugh and some of his players said Sunday. The 49ers have taken a week-long trip in each of the past three seasons and are 3-0 in those games.
Of course, their trips to Youngstown didn't begin with a water-cannon sendoff at the San Jose airport, which is how the team left the Bay Area Sunday afternoon. And when they arrived in London, there weren't 20 camera crews and a hundred reporters from dozens of different countries waiting for them at their hotel entrance.
There also wasn't a lot to do on the Ohio trips aside from filling up on scoops of Chocoholic Chunk at Handel's Ice Cream across the street. There are decidedly more distractions in downtown New Orleans, which is already in the midst of its annual Mardi Gras celebration.
The 49ers' team hotel is on the edge of the French Quarter, and notoriously boozey Bourbon Street is only two blocks to the north. Harrah's casino is a block and a half in the opposite direction, and the 49ers won't have a curfew until Tuesday night.
Still, the goal this week, said Harbaugh, is to make things as normal as possible. The schedule is very much like the trips the team has made to Youngstown the last two years. The 49ers arrived in Ohio on a Sunday night and then basically used a hotel as their headquarters as they prepared for the upcoming contest. They've even used an adjacent parking lot for walk-through practices.
"This week - we're going to try to make it like a normal week," Harbaugh said. "Being here on Sunday and getting started Monday like it's a week leading up to a Sunday game."
As the home team, the 49ers will wear their red jerseys on game day and also will train at the Saints facility in nearby Metarie. The Ravens, who arrive at 4 p.m. local time Monday, will practice at Tulane University.
The Ravens will have one less day of media duties. But they also will have less time to familiarize themselves with their surroundings.
The 49ers even encroached on the Ravens team hotel. While some teammates were tasked with sitting at podiums and talking with reporters, others - including quarterback Alex Smith - were three blocks away at the Hilton Riverside, the Ravens' home this week, having dinner.
-- Matt Barrows