49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

October 24, 2013
49ers to ditch countryside practice field for more stable ground


The 49ers will hold their final, full practice this week at a rugby complex in North London instead of their countryside home at The Grove, which one prominent player deemed a bit too soggy and slick for his liking.

"That field - I wouldn't say I'm very fond of it," linebacker Patrick Willis said today. "Soggy and slippery and everything that a guy that's trying to get over a groin (injury) doesn't need." Willis suffered a groin injury in Week 3, missed two games, and has played the last two weeks.

The 49ers stayed at The Grove in 2010 and played on the makeshift practice field, which at the time was considerably soggier to the point of having standing water in one of the corners. The NFL this year worked with the head groundskeeper of the Tottenham Hotspur football (soccer to us yanks) club to make it more manageable. The Vikings stayed and practiced there when they played the Steelers earlier this year.

The 49ers, meanwhile, were scheduled to move from The Grove, in Hertfordshire County, to London on Friday afternoon. That's still the plan, but on the way they will stop at Allianz Park, the home of the Saracens Rugby Club, for practice.

Willis said he didn't want it to sound like he was ungrateful. The overall experience, he said, has been better than the team's visit three years ago. "It just goes to show how much they appreciate the NFL," he said. "Like I said before, they've been very hospitable to us."

Injuries - All four of the players who missed Wednesday's practice - receiver Jon Baldwin (illness), defensive ends Justin Smith (shoulder) and Ray McDonald (bicep) and nose tackle Glenn Dorsey (hamstring) - were on hand for the start of Thursday's practice.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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