49ers' offense getting in gear

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BOARDMAN, Ohio (AP) - Coach Jim Harbaugh had the San Francisco 49ers pounding the pavement Wednesday.

The 49ers' offense went through a brisk walkthrough on the concrete parking lot at the team's hotel before going to work for real at Stambaugh Stadium on the campus of nearby Youngstown State.

"It's the best spot I've found for a walkthrough," Harbaugh said. "I got excited. It was a big slab of concrete with lines on it. It was great."

The 49ers chose to stay in Ohio after last Sunday's game against Cincinnati, a 13-8 Niners victory, to practice for their upcoming game in Philadelphia.

"I like the part of changing the routine," Harbaugh said. "Sometimes, the normal stuff sucks the life out of everybody.

"Here, we have so many opportunities as it relates to friendship. You can get to know two or three things about players, coaches, trainers. Guys are not heading to their cars and going home. They are together, eating meals, watching Monday Night Football."

Harbaugh also wants the 49ers to experience a little football tradition, since the NFL was conceived in 1920 about 60 miles west in Canton.

"We've come back to the roots of the 49ers," Harbaugh said. "This is football, the Canton Bulldogs right down the street. We'll see how good a decision it is when we play Sunday. Right now, though, we have been treated like kings here."

Quarterback Alex Smith said the 49ers have bought into Harbaugh's family approach. While not returning to California to practice may appear unorthodox, Smith said it gives the offense a chance to become closer.

"There's no question we get to focus on football," Smith said.

He said players often face distractions at home from family, friends or just household responsibilities.

Wide receiver Joshua Morgan likes the change of pace.

"It's like training camp in college," Morgan said. "We've got one thing to think about here, and that's playing the Eagles on Sunday. That's good because they are a tough opponent."

The 49ers' offense could use a lift, especially if running back Frank Gore's sprained right ankle limits him.

Gore was hurt in the second quarter in Cincinnati. Rookie Kendall Hunter filled in, scoring the decisive touchdown on a 7-yard-run.

"I'm not in his body. My educated guess, knowing how tough he is, is that he will play," Harbaugh said.

Gore did not practice Wednesday. Even with him, San Francisco ranks 29th in rushing at 69.7 yards a game.

They're not moving it through the air, either.

The 49ers' 74 passes are third-fewest in the league. Smith was sacked five times by the Bengals and struggled to move the ball until late.

Harbaugh considers the low-scoring win an enjoyable defensive battle rather than a series of offensive misplays.

"That was football," he said. "Football is a struggle and it is tough. If you enjoy struggles, then you liked that game. I enjoyed watching the tapes. Things can get better when you know they are fixable. There can be a lot of positives on a negative play."

One area that may be due for a change is at right guard. Starter Chilo Rachal allowed two sacks and had three penalties in the first half. Adam Snyder played most of the second half, though Harbaugh said he has yet to make a decision on who will start against the Eagles.

Notes: Placekicker David Akers spent the previous 12 years with the Eagles, but says he has nothing to prove to them. "I have to prove things for the 49ers, not them," said Akers, who is 7 for 7 on field goals since signing with San Francisco.


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