Yanda proud to receive praise as one of league’s best guards

January 30, 2013 | WNST Staff


(on the experience of the Super Bowl so far) “You try to live in the moment as best you can, as far as taking in all of the experiences, but everybody is having a good time and enjoying it. I’m kind of ready to get back to football though. We start practice today and start game planning stuff, and I’m just excited to get back to running around and get ready for San Fran.”


(on Brian Baldinger saying that there isn’t a better guard in the NFL than Marshal Yanda) “It’s nice to hear. People seeing you and watching you and saying you do great things, it just shows you that hard work is paying off and the most important thing is to play at a high level and just not having bad games, stacking good days, and that’s something that I’ve always been proud and wanted to be a great player. I take a lot of pride in that. I do want to be great. I want to be one of those guys mentioned at the top and at my position.”


(on how he likes being selected for the Pro Bowl but playing in the Super Bowl instead) “You want to have it that way. We all know that last year we were in the AFC Championship game, lose, and then two days later you’ve got to pack up and go to Hawaii. I mean that’s a tough deal when you make it that far, so this year, I wanted to make it, but I didn’t want to play in it. I obviously wanted to make it to this big stage and get here because that’s what we all work for everyday: to make it to this point, and you just keep working one day at a time and getting better and focus.”


(on how Joe Flacco’s release time helps the offensive line) “Yeah, Joe’s got a real strong arm, and he plants his back foot and gets it out of there. We just try to protect him as long as we can. It doesn’t matter if it’s a three-step, five-step or seven-step drop, we’re trying to give him as much time as we can and let him do his reads and just play good football. It’s a combination of understanding where he’s going to be at but also blocking as long as you can, no matter the timing in your head. You try to throw that out and just block as long as you can and give him as much time to make plays.”


(on what Bernard Pierce adds to Baltimore’s running game) “Obviously, the second guy comes in, you might think there would be a drop-off, but he’s showing that he’s a hard, physical running back that makes guys miss, and he’s a great complement to Ray (Rice). When he comes in, it’s not like we’re going to drop-off. He can take it the distance and bust out and make plays. He’s done that, and it’s great to have him. He’s matured a lot this year as a rookie, and he’s got a bright future, no doubt.”


(on the changes made to the offensive line and how it has helped the team) “Yeah, they switched it up, obviously right before the (first) playoff game. (Bryant McKinnie) went to left tackle, (Kelechi Osemele) went to left guard, and then (Michael Oher) went to right (tackle). That’s a big challenge for all three of those guys to be able to switch positions, especially (Osemele) as a rookie, to be able to play every game at right tackle as a rookie and then in the playoffs, switch to left guard. Everything in his mind is flipped, you’re in a left-handed stance. Obviously, your position of power is different when you switch stances, so for him to be able to do that, and be that ready when you haven’t played (there) all year, and then (Oher), being able to just play at a high level. Those three guys, it was very important for them to be able to do that, and they did it with ease. When we went to the playoffs, (the changes) were just in a week, so that was huge.”


(on if players were surprised when coaches told them there would be changes on the offensive line) “Well, we knew Jah Reid got hurt and it was a season-ending injury, so we had to do something. We knew there was a change in effect and something had to happen. We knew it was coming.”


(on the timing of the changes) “It speaks volumes for (McKinnie, Osemele and Oher) to be able to do that because that’s tough to do. You’re really rolling the dice, switching guys around like that and you’re in the playoffs, so if something goes wrong or you have a bad game, we’re done, we’re not here right now. Those guys did a really good job of not missing a beat. That just speaks well to how good of players they are, and for (Osemele) to be able to do that is huge. He’s got a bright future and has shown his versatility and is playing at a high level.”


(on the challenges that San Francisco’s linebackers will present) “You just do your best. You come up there and look at the reads, try to get on the right aiming point, and you just try to finish the block from there. Just their vision, and when they need to be physical, they can bring it. When they need to run, they can run. When they need to juke you to make you miss, they can do all three of those really well. Usually, with a linebacker, all you’ve got to worry about sometimes is a big, physical guy that’s going to run you over. Those guys can do that, and they can also juke you because they’ve got the speed, too. They’ve got a lot of good things that make it tough to (block). I’m not going to be able to just come up to them and knock the snot out of them because he’s going to make me miss. You’ve got to respect them because they’re great players. We’ve got to get them blocked to be able to do well against them on Sunday.”


(on how San Francisco frees defensive players) “They do a lot of pick games. Their big thing is to pick guys and get our linemen on different levels and get us picked, as far as to get guys free and then come around and get free runners to the quarterback. We’re watching film on them, and they do a great job of that — the guys on the left and the right. They do a good job of sometimes holding guys up, as far as Justin Smith kind of pulling the guard a little bit to let Aldon Smith come inside. It’s not going to get called because it’s very subtle, but it’s very big. They do a good job of that, and they do it on the right side, too. They do a good job of getting us on different levels. We’ve got to do a good job of setting off the ball square and blocking their stuff, and they do a good job of moving in and out, so you can’t really just block for (one thing). They keep you honest at all times.”


(on how San Francisco defensive tackle Ray McDonald has improved over the past couple of years) “Ray McDonald is very underrated. You don’t hear about him, but he does a lot for those two guys on the left, too. He pushes the pocket really well. He’s got a really strong bull rush. That’s his best adjective because he’s really strong, and he can get off the ball real quick and then get in you and he’ll bull you. You see him a lot of times pushing the guard two, three, four yards in the backfield. When he does that, the quarterback can’t step up (in the pocket). When you play guard, you’ve got to be able to stop that so the quarterback can step up and make the throw. Ray’s usually pushing his guys into that to disrupt it. He’s a big, strong guy and he doesn’t get a lot of credit but he does a lot of good things. He’s just as important as those guys on the left side, too.”


(on Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco’s father saying his son is a ‘dull’ guy) “I wouldn’t say he’s dull. He’s not a real vocal leader. I’m on board with that. I don’t need a lot of vocal motivation. He’s a silent competitor, a silent leader, and he leads by his example on the field. I’m a guy like that, too. I’m not a big rah-rah guy, ‘Hey, we need to do this, do that.’ You just lead by example on the field with your work. Nothing needs to be said when you turn the tape on and you see guys making big plays, nothing else needs to be said. He’s not dull, but he’s not an outgoing guy.”


(on Baltimore having previous experience in big games) “We definitely know what it’s like to play in big games. When that stage comes, it’s obviously not a new thing for us. We’ve been in the playoffs a bunch. We’ve played Pittsburgh and New England a lot, so we’re in those tight ball games a bunch. If you get two good teams and they don’t turn the ball over much, it’s going to be one of those tight games that’s going to come down to a play here and a play there. It’s nice to be battle tested.”


(on the continuity that he and center Matt Birk have provided during the other changes to the offensive line) “(With) Matt being there, we understood that (Bryant McKinnie, Kelechi Osemele and Michael Oher) would have a tough job of switching positions and playing well. We understood ours, ‘Hey they better get my best.’ They will for sure because I’ve been at my spot all year the past two years, and they’re not going to get a bad game out of me. These guys have a lot more on their plate than I do. I want to be able to step up and give a good game, and Matt does, too.”


(on the improvements Flacco has made during his career) “He’s played at a high level, and whenever he needs to rise to the occasion, he has. Whether it was last year, two years ago or this year, whenever we need a big game out of Joe, he rises to the occasion and plays great, put the ball in the right spot, and done a good job.”