NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Passports and extra-stuffed suitcases are in tow as the 49ers' road to London first goes through Music City and the Tennessee Titans.
The 49ers (4-2) insist they aren't overlooking Sunday's game against the scuffling Titans (3-3). But a weeklong stay in the English countryside awaits coach Jim Harbaugh's squad for next Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"Everybody's focused on Tennessee right now," 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "They're a good team, they have a good defense and that's where our focus needs to be."
Fox Sports analyst Tim Ryan agreed, basing his confidence in how the 49ers fared by spending a week in Youngstown, Ohio, between back-to-back road games early in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
"With this team and how they've built, the East Coast process into their schedule, they'll be all right," Ryan said. "On top of that, they realized they're not good enough to overlook anybody."
Last season's Super Bowl runners-up, the 49ers have rebounded from a 1-2 start to win their past three games. The 49ers can make history if they win on the road before playing next in London, a feat that hasn't been done since the NFL started exporting regular-season games overseas in 2007.
The 49ers failed to pull off such a win three years ago, falling at Carolina 23-20 and then rebounding with a 24-16 victory over the Denver Broncos in Wembley Stadium.
While the NFL has taken a regular-season game to Wembley Stadium since 2007, all but three of the 12 teams involved played the preceding game at home. The exceptions: the 49ers in 2010, and the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers before their 2008 meeting. All three teams lost that preceding game.
Rather than peek ahead to London, the 49ers must concentrate on the Titans, who lost two in a row while quarterback Jake Locker was sidelined with hip and knee injuries. Locker is expected to return to face the 49ers.
"They're a solid team, and they can beat you if you're not on your 'A' game," right tackle Anthony Davis said.
The 49ers brought their "C-minus" game last year when they embarked on a 10-day, two-game trip in Weeks 3 and 4. They lost 24-13 at Minnesota, then stayed five days in Youngstown before moving on to New York and clobbering the Jets 34-0. In 2011, the 49ers swept their consecutive road games at Cincinnati and Philadelphia.
"It's a matter of, same way we treated those Youngstown trips ... and that's concentrating on taking care of our business today and handling that," coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Business has picked up recently thanks to an opportunistic defense and a ground-and-pound rushing attack.
"This is an old school, line-of-scrimmage game, to see who can run it and who can't," said Ryan, a television analyst on the 49ers' exhibition broadcasts.
The Titans' run defense will look to slow down red-hot Frank Gore, the same player whom New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ordered his charges to stop in their January 2012 playoff meeting. Williams, who sat out the ensuing season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal, now is a Titans defensive assistant.
The 49ers defense is hurting, and not just because sack leader Aldon Smith will miss his fourth straight game while seeking treatment after an alcohol-related car accident. The defensive line might start third-string nose tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie.
Perhaps of more concern is the status of left defensive tackle Ray McDonald, who struggled last week with a partially torn right biceps. Also, Ahmad Brooks missed practice Thursday and Friday to tend to a family matter.
The Titans, with rookie starting center Brian Schwenke out of Cal, likely will try establishing the run, not just with Chris Johnson on the outside but Shonn Greene up the middle.
While the 49ers defense ranks ninth in points-allowed per game (19.7), the Titans are just above them in eighth (19.2) and haven't allowed more than the 30 points they gave up in an overtime defeat to Houston in Week 2. The 49ers offense has scored 35, 34 and 32 points en route to their past three wins.
Nashville isn't familiar territory for the 49ers, who've played there only once, losing 33-22 in 2005. Their second trip to Nashville will be followed by their second one to London. At least one player doesn't feel the need to turn this 10-day trip into a bonding experience.
"Whether we're in Youngstown, London or (Santa Clara), it really doesn't change my relationship with my teammates," Kaepernick said. "That's not really a factor. We're always together here as well, but you're sleeping in the same hotel instead."
No. 2 nose tackle Glenn Dorsey sustained a hamstring injury last Sunday and practiced only Friday. Top nose tackle Ian Williams suffered a broken ankle in Week 2 and is out for the season.
Other options to strengthen the line were to promote Mike Purcell from the practice squad or deem rookie Tank Carradine ready to come off the reserve/non-football-injury list.
49ers (4-2) at Tennessee
(3-3), 1:05 p.m. FOX
Locker (above) expected to start at QB for Titans. PAGE 5
Wants team to keep its focus on Tennessee.
QB says 49ers won't look ahead to London.