Whitner: 49ers worked while rivals played

Turns out the San Francisco 49ers were hard at work when the division-rival Seattle Seahawks took the afternoon off for go-kart racing during training camp.

Looks like 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh noticed his former Pac-10 rival and current Seahawks counterpart, Pete Carroll, placing more emphasis on team bonding than on-field work that day. Harbaugh even told his team about it, emphasizing that only hard work would take the 49ers where they wanted to go.

"We got 212 snaps in that day," 49ers safety Donte Whitner told reporters this week.

All work and no play has not made the 49ers a dull team. They're one victory away from reaching the Super Bowl during their first season under Harbaugh. They went 13-3 during the regular season, sweeping the Seahawks.

Whitner made his comments when asked about confident talk from the New York Giants heading into the NFC Championship Game.

"We understand that all the work takes place on the football field, and he's been preaching that since Day 1," Whitner said of Harbaugh. "When we first came in to training camp, he told us the story of one other team. I think Seattle or one of these teams was out at some park go-kart riding and stuff and we got 212 snaps in that day."

Training camps opened well before the Seahawks went racing on Aug. 24, making it tough to verify Whitner's exact timeline. But the general point stands.

Harbaugh would have the best feel for what his team needed during camp. The 49ers have responded favorably to his approach. Coming off nearly a decade of losing, they probably needed those 212 snaps Whitner referenced.

Lots of successful coaches have used team field trips to break up the monotony of training camp with an eye toward team bonding.

New England's Bill Belichick broke from camp to take the Patriots to see "The Fighter" on Aug. 24, the same day Carroll took his team racing. Belichick even arranged for boxer Micky Ward to appear at the private screening. The Patriots managed to go 13-3 this season.

A break from camp could suit the 49ers at some point in the future. I wouldn't expect Carroll to offer them any tips for the go-kart track, however.