Troy Smith: Bring on the snow

While the 49ers bundle up for Sunday's game in Green Bay, quarterback Troy Smith recalls growing up in Cleveland, where freezing weather was known as "the hawk." He's familiar with a few snowflakes.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- A few snow flurries in Green Bay? No big deal, Troy Smith said this week.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback grew up in Cleveland, on the shores of Lake Erie. So when the temperatures drop and the visibility gets a little rough, he's almost in his element.

"It definitely takes me back to my roots, being from the Midwest," Smith said. "Living in Cleveland my whole life and being right there on the lake, I have an understanding of what cold really means.

"Back home, we called it ‘the hawk.' My uncle used to always tell me, ‘You do anything else, get into anymore trouble, and I'm going to throw you outside to ‘the hawk.' So I understand exactly what that gust of wind is going to feel like on the back of my neck. I'll be ready."

Officially, the forecast calls for snow showers and 26 degrees when the 49ers meet the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Preparing for those kinds of conditions when you're living in California isn't easy.

"It's kind of cold here now," defensive coordinator Greg Manusky joked the other day. "They'll be fine, I think. When you look at the schedule early on in the season, you see a game in Green Bay in December and you kind of go, ‘Oh.' But for the most part, we'll all bundle up and do what we have to do to keep warm."

Still, no matter what opposing teams do, you don't realize how cold it is until you're on the field with the temperature falling and the snow drifting in your face. It might be one reason the 49ers have never fared well at Lambeau. They haven't won there since 1990 and are 0-7 since then, including two playoff losses.

It's a home-field edge that isn't lost on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"I think it's the combination of a number of things," Rodgers said on a conference call with Bay Area writers this week. "You look at December football in Green Bay and you're playing a team from the West Coast at 12 o'clock Central time. The weather is going to be cold, (and) their body clocks, it's going to be early for them. And we have a very lively crowd on Sunday's here in Green Bay.

"We enjoy our home-field advantage, and I think we're a little bit better equipped than most teams coming in dealing with the weather. It's difficult for everyone, especially when it gets zero or below. Living in this environment, I think you get a little bit better at dealing with the elements."

For their part, at least the 49ers (4-7 and one game out of first place in the NFC West) have a quarterback with the right attitude: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

"That would be a blast from the past," Troy Smith said of the possibility of snow showers. "It will be something that I was used to, you know growing up back in Ohio. So now that you've let me know, it will be one to remember, hopefully."

NOTES: The 49ers made the signing of Jeff Reed official on Friday, announcing that the former Pittsburgh Steelers kicker had signed a one-year contract. The team had hoped that Joe Nedney would be fully recovered from a strained right knee and bone bruise in his plant let, but he was ruled out of Sunday's game. Reed has plenty of experience kicking in cold weather, having spent all of his first nine NFL seasons in Pittsburgh. … The Niners listed cornerback Will James (concussion) as doubtful, while center David Baas (concussion), linebacker Parys Haralson (ankle) and cornerback Shawntae Spencer (quadriceps) are questionable.


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