This past Monday the NFL announced the lineup of games for its International Series that will be taking place in the 2019 season. Five games were announced with four scheduled to take place in London and one in Mexico City. To the relief of many Faithful, the San Francisco 49ers were left off this list, which in essence means less of a strenuous travel schedule, and no possibility of losing one home game. The 49ers however were a part of a number of international matchups in years past. Let’s take a look back at these games.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals (October 2, 2005)
The first ever international game in NFL history took place in Mexico City at the famed Estadio Azteca on October 2, 2005. The game was attended by 103,467 spectators which at the time was a record setting attendance for an NFL game. The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers were granted the honor to play in this game, which was billed as “Fútbol Americano” (that means American Football for all you uncultured swine out there). Why the 49ers were chosen for this game was a head-scratcher, seeing as how they had just mustered a league worst 2-14 record the previous season. In all honesty they didn’t do much to rehab that image either, failing to put an offensive score on the board the whole game. The touchdowns they did score were both defensive ones off fumble recoveries. Tim Rattay was the starting quarterback for the game and managed to throw for only 126 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. He was eventually replaced by rookie Alex Smith late in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals ended up winning the game 31-14 and while it was a historic event, it’s one that the Faithful would much rather forget.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos (October 31, 2010)
The next international game for the 49ers would come five years after their first venture across borders. On Halloween, 2010 they would go onto face the Denver Broncos in London’s esteemed soccer venue, Wembley Stadium. Mike Singletary was head coach for the 49ers and though it hasn’t been confirmed, but it is almost certain that he shouted out “Show me, don’t tell me” various times throughout the game at his players. Josh McDaniels, the head coach of the Broncos, was in the middle year of his three-year sabbatical from the New England Patriots, after which he would return to New England to assume his role as lifetime assistant of Bill Belichick.
The two dueling quarterbacks in this game were Troy Smith for the 49ers and Kyle Orton for the Broncos. Future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore put an exclamation point on the game picking up 118 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead all rushers. Former 49er Brandon Lloyd, by this time a Bronco, lead all receivers with 169 yards receiving. A lesser known fact about this game is that someone named Dan Gronkowski made an appearance at tight end for the Broncos. He is, of course, the brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. He finished the game with 30 yards receiving off three receptions. And according to unconfirmed sources, he consumed more Jäger bombs post-game than his reception totals in-game. The 49ers would go onto to win this game 24-16.
San Francisco 49ers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (October 27, 2013)
The 49ers’ most recent international game came in the 2013 season, in the midst of the Jim Harbaugh era. This game also took place in London at Wembley Stadium. Colin Kaepernick and Chad Henne were the dueling quarterbacks in this one for the 49ers and Jaguars respectively. The 49ers absolutely torched the Jaguars with their ground game. Running back Kendall Hunter led the game on the ground with 84 yards rushing. Gore had 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Kaepernick rushed for 54 yards and also put two TDs on the board. The 49ers would come away with a 42-10 victory and get a chance to go enjoy a meal of bangers and mash afterwards!
International Games to Come
Although the 49ers have not been involved in an international game since 2013, there had been some rumblings around the league with them being linked to a game in China against the Los Angeles Rams. The game which was rumored to be in the 2018 season never took place, but the NFL doesn’t seem to have given up on the idea of having a game in China just yet. But it will be another whole season before that would materialize. Whether it will be the 49ers involved in that game or not, the Faithful will just have to wait and see!
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