Niners give up home game to play Broncos in London

The 49ers will be spending Halloween in London.


The NFL announced this morning the 49ers will give up a game at Candlestick Park to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Oct. 31, at London‘s Wembley Stadium.


The game will televised by CBS, beginning at 10 a.m., Pacific time. (For those keeping score, that’s 5 p.m. in the U.K.)


“For the past three years we have seen the extraordinary passion that exists for NFL football in the UK,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “We want to continue to build on that passion by strengthening our ties to our existing UK fans and creating new ones.”


Niners sources thought the club might face the Philadelphia Eagles. But the NFL decided to pair the 49ers against the Denver Broncos, giving the “home team” only a one time-zone disadvantage.


In statements through the team, key members of the organization reacted enthusiastically to the news. But what would you expect from a team coached by a man who said he doesn’t care if they play in a parking lot?


“The 49ers organization is excited to be part of the NFL’s 2010 international schedule,” 49ers President and CEO Jed York said. London is a wonderful venue for two of the most storied franchises in NFL history to square off. The international games have been so well received in recent years that it will surely be an exciting experience for our players, coaches, staff and fans. We support the league’s initiative to bring NFL games to the international stage, and are looking forward to playing in front of our fans in England.”


York‘s father, 49ers’ owner John York, is the chair of the NFL International Committee. This is the second time the 49ers have been chosen to play in a regular-season international game. The 49ers kicked off this new era in the NFL as the “visiting” team in a 31-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City in 2005.


This will be the 49ers’ third game in Wembley Stadium, but the first one that actually counts in the standings. The organization’s two previous trips (1992 and 1988) were exhibition games.


This should fulfill the 49ers’ requirement to give up a home game to play overseas. Every team is required to give up a home game over a period of time to “host” an international game. The 49ers wanted to give up a home game while they were still playing in antiquated Candlestick Park.


“I am thrilled about the chance to represent the NFL internationally,” 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. “I have no doubt that our players will be ready to go. What a great opportunity it is for us to play in such a setting.”


Said Patrick Willis: “I’ve never been to London, but I’ve always wanted to go. I couldn’t think of a better way to get to visit England than to go there doing something I love to do … playing football.”


“I’m so excited. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since they started playing games over in London,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “I’ve always wanted to go overseas and now I get to go over with my teammates and play football. I can’t wait to go over there and show all of Europe what 49ers football is all about.”


The rest of the 49ers’ schedule will be announced in the spring. The club expects to have a road game prior to its trip to London, making it likely they would spend the entire week practicing and preparing in the UK.


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One person who no question is happy that this game is taking place in London: Mike Nolan. As Broncos defensive coordinator, he is spared from making four trips through the lower deck at Candlestick to and from the coaches’ booth.


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49ers 2010 opponents


Home ( 8 7): Philadelphia, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Denver, Oakland, Arizona, St. Louis and Seattle.


Road (8): Green Bay, Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego, Arizona, St. Louis and Seattle.


Neutral (1): Denver at Wembley Stadium, London.


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