49ers LT Staley honored to play against Lewis in his final NFL game

January 28, 2013 | WNST Staff

LEFT TACKLE JOE STALEY

 (on the 49ers’ team history and being reminded of it) “You walk through the facility and all the past Lombardi trophies we have won. They are proudly displayed. It is a great tradition there. You are reminded of that with the fan base as well. The 80’s—a lot of the people you meet in the community say that they became fans of the 49ers in the 80’s when they were young. Right now we are trying to establish our own identity. You do not want to live in the past and we are trying to create our own tradition and things that everybody can be excited about.”

(on the quarterback switch and if he had loyalties to QB Alex Smith) “It was one of those things where I am obviously very, very close to Alex (Smith). He is one of my best friends. I felt for the situation that he was going through. It was hard for him. As a team member and a member of this team that we are all part of, whatever Coach Harbaugh decides we went with. (Smith) knew how I felt as far as a friend—being there for him and supporting him. It was also one of those things where if Coach Harbaugh feels it is the best way and this is the direction we are going then I am all for it. I think one of the things we have in this football team is we have a lot of trust in the coaching staff to make the great decisions. That is what they worry about, all that kind of stuff. We just go out there and play football.”

(on if QB Colin Kaepernick had to win the team over) “Anybody that is out there on the football field you want to see them produce and get results. With Colin (Kaepernick) his first couple of starts, you did not know what to expect because we had not seen him out there as a starting quarterback. He did amazing and he has all season as well as the playoffs. I think it was one of those things where we saw him in practice and we just wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation in the games. He has done that.”

(on the team buying into Coach Harbaugh last season) “I went to his press conference when he was introduced as the head coach and I could just feel the energy and the passion he had for coaching football. Then when we hit the meeting room for OTAs, actually we did not have OTAs that year since it was the lockout year. When we were at training camp, it was all business all the time when we got into the football facility. I think the energy he brings—all of that stuff rubbed off on us pretty early. Then you get around his coaching staff and his people that he brought in—our offensive coordinator Greg Roman is one of the best I have ever been around. I have heard that from a lot of the different people he has been affiliated with throughout his career. Just really, really bright minds. Coaches that really, really enjoy coaching and bringing passion to the workplace every day.”

(on keeping the core group of guys together) “I think we were just all hungry for change. Myself, I went through four losing seasons. I had never seen any success. Seeing all the hard work and talent we had in the locker room, we were all just hungry for a change. I think (Coach Harbaugh) came in and really set the mindset of once we step in this building it is all about business and all about football. We are not going to mess around with any kind of other things that do not get us better. We all bought into that pretty quickly. Just the hard work.”

(on the top highlights of the plane trip to New Orleans) “We had this huge plane. It was the bed seats. That was probably number one. Number two, I got to watch How to Make It In America. It was a canceled show on HBO, which I really, really enjoy. Number three, probably the 10-minute nap I took. It was pretty fantastic.”

(on the pistol offense and if it is different) “It is different in the sense of it is not traditional. Come downhill. It is a lot of different parts that are going on with it. It puts a lot of pressure on everybody to be on point and know exactly what we are doing. Everybody on the football field really has to be dialed in. I think in that aspect (it is different). We do not just run the pistol offense. We do a lot of different things. We do a lot of different things well so it is really hard to prepare for our offense because of that fact.”

(on Coach Harbaugh being fueled by negative criticism) “(Coach Harbaugh) does not bring that up or address really anything that is going on outside our football room. It is all about what I was talking about earlier, getting in that building and to our meetings or film study. All of that stuff that goes into what we can control for that day. He does not really pay attention to any criticism that we have.”

(on Colin Kaepernick’s performance in the NFC Championship showing that this stage will not be too big for him) “I do not think that was the moment that opened my eyes. We have seen that throughout the second half of the season when he has been out on the football field.  He has proven he is a very, very capable quarterback and does amazing things out there on the football field. No moment is too big. I think his first start in the NFL, Monday Night Football, to come out and play the way he did—that right there shows you the kind of guts that guy has. It seems like every single situation you put him up with it is like ‘Well let’s see how he responds to this one.’ Colin answers the bell and does amazing. It was not like ‘Oh my gosh, I cannot believe we came back.’ It was what we expected and what we had seen the whole entire season from him.”

(on what he saw from Colin Kaepernick and the team when they were down in NFC Championship) “Our whole entire football team, there was nobody panicking. We were really focused in that game. Really we had a lot of confidence that we were going to be able to get things going. That drive that we had down 17-nothing, getting those seven points really put us in a position to come back and make that a ball game.”

(on having already played in the Superdome and how important that could be for Colin Kaepernick) “I think he is familiar with the surroundings and especially playing in a dome, I hear a lot of quarterbacks and receivers talk about a lot of domes are different as far as the lighting. No dome is the same. I think it was big. We will see how much of an importance that plays. You always want to be near some level of comfort there. Knowing you played there and had success there. You did all that. When it comes down to it, it is a football game. The same field and all of that stuff.”

(on if the Superdome being the site of the Super Bowl being mentioned before their game against the New Orleans Saints) “We kind of said after we would like to be back there and this is our goal to be back here at the end of the season. It was not a rallying cry or anything. Still a lot of the season left to play.”

(on keeping a practice schedule) “I think it is a little bit different—just the circumstances and all of this. I do not do this too often on a Sunday night. As far as the scheduling and it is what you do during the week. We talk about just keep it and do not change anything. Do not go outside yourself and do something that you have not done all season. Try to treat this week as normal as you can. I think that will go a long way as far as calming any nerves or anxiety you have.”

(on the offensive line having played better this year than last) “I think we are playing better. I think a lot of the guys have been playing together longer. This is my third year playing next to Mike (Iupati). Anthony (Davis) is in his third year. The other piece that we inserted was Alex (Boone) from last year’s line. He has done a terrific job. Being more familiar with the offense, the coaching staff—all that continuity and all of that chemistry that you build over a couple of years goes a long way on the offensive line just because we have to play together a lot of time. I think we are hitting our stride right now. We are peaking at the right moment.”

(on his favorite Coach Harbaugh antidote and if he uses a lot of quotes with the team) “Yeah he does. We did a quote board this year where we did a different player from the team. Kind of went with a quote and wrote it up on this dry erase board. That is something he does all the time. What you see with Coach Harbaugh is exactly how he is with us. Probably not as candid with us as he is with you guys. I think one of the things that is a funny story with him is the first time I met him was when I went to the press conference when he was introduced in San Francisco. I was the only player that went and I walk into the room and introduce myself. He comes down and just starts punching my gut. Starts telling my about I need to do more sit ups or something like that. Just kind of the personality he is.”

(on the team’s hotel being so close to Bourbon Street and avoiding those temptations) “We addressed it but did not make a big deal about it because we know the players that we have on this football team. Like I was saying earlier, all of the high character guys. We know that we are not down here to have a good time. We are down here for a business trip and to compete for the Lombardi trophy. We are going to do all we can to prepare and make sure no turn is unturned. I do not think that is going to be an issue with our football team.”

(on the 49ers having so many first round picks on the roster) “You want talented players. Cannot have a bunch of great guys who stink at football and win games. Obviously have to have a lot of talented players. You have to have the right kind of talented players. You look for that combination and we found a great combo with a lot of the players. I think sometimes you want to have some characters. I think it keeps it interesting. We have players like Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon (Davis), Patrick (Willis) and myself. Older, veteran leaders that really speak up and make sure there is no issues.”

(on adding players through free agency) “Yeah, definitely. You look at the people we brought through the draft when we built through the draft, but also free agent players that we have brought in, it is exciting to see that everybody is excited to come to San Francisco and be a part of what we are doing here. Hopefully we will continue with that.”

 

(on Coach Harbaugh facing his brother) “I think it is pretty sweet. I think if I had a brother I think it would be pretty awesome to compete against him at the highest level. What better stage than at the Super Bowl to do that. It is awesome for their family. The focus is not on ‘I have to beat my brother in this Super Bowl.’ We have to win this Super Bowl for the city of San Francisco, this franchise and this organization.”

 

(on facing LB Ray Lewis in his final game) “I played against him one time last year when we played them and (Ray Lewis) was hurt. My rookie year I played against him. I remember blocking him one play and I had a block where I was like ‘Holy crap, it is Ray Lewis. I just blocked Ray Lewis.’ He is a player that is obviously on top of his game and one of the best to ever play this position. He brings a ton to that franchise and that team. He is the heart of that team. It is going to be great to compete against him for the trophy.”

 

(on seeing an oversized picture of Colin Kaepernick pulling up in the garage of the hotel) “I did not get to go to the garage, but I am sure it is awesome. Real good looking face.”

 

(on Coach Harbaugh keeping everyone level and how he does not let the team get to high) “Nothing ever changes. It is the same. He is very, very consistent as far as from day one when he got here to now. He is not different as far as his approach and the focus, attention and detail—all those things that we talk about. He is very consistent and I really appreciate that as a player. Not ease off the pedal.”

 

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