The Redskins had snowplows cleaning their practice field by mid-morning and players on that field by early yesterday afternoon. Their practice was brief and consisted only of running sprints and pass patterns and stretching -- and playing in the snow.

Defensive backs pelted cameramen and teammates with snowballs, and Alaskan Mark Schlereth led four teammates in the construction of a six-foot snowman.

After spending the morning in meeting rooms, the Redskins said an afternoon in the snow didn't feel too bad.

"This has been a great way to let off steam," guard Raleigh McKenzie said. "Everything has been so serious that we needed some of this. We're going to have to get back to business here pretty soon."

The Redskins defense, preparing for a Saturday date with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice at Candlestick Park, will practice separately from the offense this afternoon. The regular weekly practice schedule will begin Wednesday.

Although more snow is forecast, Coach Joe Gibbs said he never considered moving to a warm-weather climate this week.

"When you start talking about packing everything up and going someplace else, that's a major, major decision," he said. If we were in a different environment, with real severe weather and didn't think we could get anything out of it, that might be different. We kind of like staying at home."

History on Their Side

This will be the fourth time the Redskins have played a defending world champions in the playoffs, and they've won on each occasion. They defeated the Bears in 1942, the Cowboys in 1972 and the Bears in 1986. . . .

The Redskins would never tip their hands on what Saturday's defensive strategy might be. But don't be surprised if they come out in a nickel defense from the start.

That's what the Rams did to the 49ers in Week 11 and upset them, 28-17. . . .

Since the 49ers and Redskins played in Week 12 of 1988, the 49ers are 38-5, the Redskins 22-16. Oddly, the 49ers' last six losses have come at Candlestick Park. They've won an NFL record 19 in a row on the road.