SANTA CLARA - For most people, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time for families and friends. But for the 49ers, it's the beginning of a 10-day trek away from California for two of their biggest matchups of the season.
This will be the second extended stay away from home for the 49ers after they spent time between Week 1 and 2 practicing in Youngstown, Ohio.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan is tasked with keeping his players focused and prepared for the home stretch of the season, and is confident in the strength of his locker room.
"You address it, you talk about it so they are aware of it," Shanahan said. "You can talk all you want. Guys really have got to live it and believe it. Like I've said all year, I think we've got a real good group of guys so I don't worry about them too much."
Shanahan isn't alone in believing the 49ers' locker room is special. Emmanuel Sanders gave it a glowing review upon his arrival and Jimmy Garoppolo mentions it during his interviews on a regular basis. Shanahan made it clear that it's not just lip service.
"It's real different," Shanahan said. "I mean, every team is different each year, but we've got a real special group of guys. I know I keep saying that. I felt that way last year just with what we were going through and how many losses we had and the season we had and just the way guys didn't really turn on each other.
"Then just to add a new group of guys this year with the same group of guys that were here, they've fit in perfect right away and I think they've even made us stronger. It's been a special group all year."
The closeness of the team and staff makes an extended stay away from home more like a bonding experience. Shanahan also believes it can be a much-needed escape from the stress of the holidays.
"I think it's actually nicer, probably, going out of town on Thanksgiving, because everyone's got to deal with Thanksgiving," Shanahan said. "But I think the harder thing for players is all the family members and the uncles and everyone who is bored Friday night, waiting for you to come back home.
"Then Saturday trying to hang out with you, trying to keep you up and play cards and enjoy their vacation on their time off. They don't realize that you've got a big game. It's a lot of pressure, I think, for some of these guys, so I think it's kind of nice that we can get them out of here Friday."
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There has been no blowback from the players about their extended stay away from home, at least not publicly. The 49ers are focused on one game at a time, but they know this will be a challenging trip as they face the Ravens (9-2) and Saints (10-2), two teams who will be coming into their matchups with a ton of momentum.
"It's every year," Garoppolo said. "You get to spend a little time with the family, but at the end of the day, you've got to know that we have a job to do on Sunday. We have to be ready for that, prepare throughout the week like we normally do, enjoy Thanksgiving and everything, but we have to handle our business."
Kyle Shanahan has trust in 49ers' focus heading into 10-day road trip originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area