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San Francisco 49ers to play Broncos in London in 2010

By Daniel Brown, dbrown@mercurynews.com
Posted: 01/15/2010 09:07:07 PM PST
Updated: 01/15/2010 10:29:40 PM PST

One of the 49ers' home games next season will take place more than 5,300 miles from home. The 49ers and the Denver Broncos will travel to London for a regular-season game Oct. 31.

Reacting to the announcement Friday, players and team officials said they are eager to play the role of international ambassadors.

"I've always wanted to go overseas, and now I get to go over with my teammates and play football," tight end Vernon Davis said in a statement released by the team. "I can't wait to go over there and show all of Europe what 49ers football is all about."

This marks the fourth consecutive season in which the NFL has held a regular-season game at Wembley Stadium, which holds about 84,000 fans for American football. The game will be played at 5 p.m. in London and will be broadcast by CBS at 10 a.m. Pacific time.

"London is a wonderful venue for two of the most storied franchises in NFL history to square off," said Jed York, the 49ers' president, in one of several prepared statements released by the team.

The 49ers have played at Wembley Stadium twice in exhibitions in 1988 against Miami and in 1992 against Washington. The 49ers also have played preseason games in Tokyo (1989 and '95); Osaka, Japan (2002); Berlin (1991); Barcelona, Spain (1993); and Vancouver, British Columbia (1998).

This is their second international appearance that will count in the standings: The 49ers played the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City
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in 2005, the first NFL regular-season game played on foreign soil.

The rest of the 49ers' schedule will be announced in April. They are expected to get a bye week after the London trip, which would allow extra recovery time after the demanding travel.

For now, the 49ers are just happy to get such a showcase.

"I am thrilled about the chance to represent the NFL internationally," coach Mike Singletary said in a prepared statement. "I have no doubt that our players will be ready to go. "

Linebacker Patrick Willis said: "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."

In announcing the matchup, the NFL noted that the 49ers and the Broncos are among the most decorated teams in league history. The 49ers have five Super Bowl titles, and Denver has two.

The 49ers defeated the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV in 1990.

The NFL said it will continue to explore adding a second game this season in the United Kingdom.

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

A 49ers spokesman said financial details of the arrangement still are being worked out. The 49ers are not expected to lose revenue by giving up a home date.

Season-ticket holders will be required to purchase only nine games: seven regular-season dates and two preseason games. The 49ers said season-ticket holders interested in attending the London game will get more information when the renewal process begins in a few weeks.