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Ravens Arrive in NOLA… on a Business Trip!

Posted on 29 January 2013 by Gary Quill


Nuff Said! GO RAVENS!!! OH-OH OH OH OH OH OH OH-OH!

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Harbaugh, Ravens appear “super” in making arrival to New Orleans

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Harbaugh, Ravens appear “super” in making arrival to New Orleans

Posted on 28 January 2013 by Luke Jones

NEW ORLEANS — If there were any doubt over whether the Baltimore Ravens belonged in the Super Bowl, Monday’s arrival in New Orleans was a sparkling debut for head coach John Harbaugh.

Dressed like a man more likely to run for public office than making his first Super Bowl appearance as a head coach, Harbaugh held court with a large media contingency on Monday evening and was on point throughout the 19-minute session. Handling more difficult questions about former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and President Barack Obama’s recent admission that he wouldn’t let his children play football as well as lighthearted questions about his brother Jim, Harbaugh made an excellent first impression with the Super Bowl media.

Harbaugh’s day got off to a good start on Monday by way of a passionate rally in downtown Baltimore prior to the Ravens’ departure for New Orleans in the afternoon afternoon. And he finished even stronger as he addressed questions six days prior to the Ravens’ meeting with the San Francisco 49ers at Super Bowl XLVII.

“We’re proud to be participants in the Super Bowl. We’re going to do our best to play our best in this game,” Harbaugh said. “We had an incredible sendoff down at the Inner Harbor this afternoon on our way to the airport. We had thousands, I’m not sure how many thousands, but lots of thousands of people there in a cold drizzle, on a January, Chesapeake Bay, afternoon. And they were there all morning waiting for us and they just went crazy.”

The Baltimore coach handled questions about his brother with humor and patience, knowing he will hear the queries all week despite his efforts to keep the focus on both team’s players.

He also won the initial fashion battle with his brother as he dressed in a sharp suit selected by his wife in contrast to Jim’s black sweatshirt and khakis. The style points mean nothing as far as what will happen on Sunday, but the Ravens coach represented the organization with the utmost level of class. And after four previous seasons of coming close — advancing to at least the divisional round in each season — Harbaugh appeared as though he belonged in the limelight.

A small contingency of players reflected Harbaugh’s professionalism as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Terrell Suggs, and Matt Birk were dressed to the nines for their media sessions. Their comments reflecting nothing but a respect for San Francisco that’s shared by their coach.

“Our guys are class guys,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll play with character, we’ll play with class, we’ll be a tough, hard-nosed football team –  that’s the way we’ll play. Before the game, after the game, I think we’re very respectful of our opponents, we always have been, and our opponents have respected us over the years. The team we’re playing is built the same way.”

Harbaugh has been to the Super Bowl before as a special teams coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles at the conclusion of the 2004 season. The Baltimore coach couldn’t recall any profound bits of wisdom from former Eagles head coach Andy Reid, but he referenced a thick planning book that was used when the Eagles met the New England Patriots in Jacksonville.

The 50-year-old Harbaugh will hope for a different result this time around as the Ravens look to win their second NFL championship in the last 13 seasons.

“You have a sense of the timing a little bit,” Harbaugh said. “You understand how the week goes. You understand the distractions, the potential distractions, and you understand the timeline for the game as much as anything. That will be a plus, but they’re all different.”

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Niners LB Smith not sure if John Harbaugh as intense as Jim

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

LINEBACKER ALDON SMITH

(on why being named team MVP means so much to him) “A lot because you have a lot of guys on this team who are all-stars, who have made Pro Bowls consecutively. You have Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, I can go on. I come in my second year and I get the MVP, it means a lot.”

(on how he found out he was named team MVP) “We were all in a meeting together as a team. (Head) Coach (Jim) Harbaugh got up and just went out there and said it.”

(on his relationship with Justin Smith) “Other than our last names being Smith (and) us going to Missouri, from the time I stepped into the NFL, he was the guy who helped me out with everything. I worked out with him during the (2011)-lockout and he helped me a lot just coming in my rookie year. Then on the field, we just work well with each other. We feed off each other. We have a rhythm that we just developed together.”

(on why he has gotten less sacks recently) “A lot more guys coming to block me. I’m getting double-teamed a lot, triple-teamed at times, and then the quarterbacks are getting the ball out fast. Another thing that’s really cool about that is if I’m not making a play, a lot of times I’m getting double-teamed a sack comes from somebody else. I might not get it, but at the end of the day the stats still say it’s a sack.”

(on if he agrees that San Francisco seems to get stronger in the second half) “I do agree with that. We really work hard. We lift a lot. We take good care of ourselves and I think that all just transitions on. We’re not just a team that’s good in the first half; we play four quarters of good football.”

(on if he was surprised he was named team MVP) “Yes, a little bit. Like I said, there are a lot of guys that are good (and) a lot of guys that could have gotten that award. It was an honor.”

(on the quality of linebackers playing in the Super Bowl) “You could say (that) it’s the linebacker bowl, right? There are a lot of guys that can play. You have a lot of guys. You have Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, me, Ray Lewis, (and) Terrell Suggs. There’s going to be a lot of talent out there. That’s where we are.”

(on the demeanor of Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio) “Vic is a calm guy. He’s not one of those coaches that’s yelling at you and doing a lot of vocal. He gets the message across and everybody understands it. We take it and go with it.”

(on if he talked to Michael Strahan while he was chasing his sack record) “No, I actually talked to him before the Atlanta game on the field. We joked around about it. He was kind of giving me a hard time about not getting it. That’s about it.”

(on Head Coach Jim Harbaugh saying every team needs an Aldon Smith on it) “That’s an honor. Coming from Coach Harbaugh, that means a lot. It’s an honor.”

(on President Obama’s comments on the safety of football) “I think the game has been like it always has. It’s a physical game. Everybody plays hard. Guys get hit sometimes and that’s what we all know coming into the game. We all signed up for it. It’s not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis. We came out. We’re playing football.”

(on whether the team has talked about the potential distractions of New Orleans) “Really be responsible. We know what our goal is. Our goal is to come in here and win the game, not just to come down here and be at the Super Bowl. We’re coming down here to win the game. We all have that goal, so everybody is just being responsible and doing the right thing.”

(on losing in the NFC Championship last season) “We were so close last year. We were so close. We all know how we felt and we didn’t want that feeling again this year. I think every time we were all together, whether it was for our workouts, just our meetings or just hanging out, we all knew that if we ever got back to this situation, it was not going to end up like that. We want to be here.”

(on how Justin Smith helps him on the field) “It’s attention. He’s a guy that draws a lot of attention. He’s a great player and a Pro Bowl guy. With that, if they’re doubling him, they might single me up. Regardless, we’re all getting a lot of attention and one of us will be free or singled up and we’ll take advantage of it.”

(on the advantage of the two weeks between the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl) “I think the advantage is that you get your body healthy. You get your legs back. The only disadvantage would maybe be the little bit of momentum that kind of gets lost.”

(on the extra attentions he has gotten from opposing offenses) “I really just go out and play. I don’t try to think too much about what they’re doing. I have to play my game. I have to do what I do well to be successful, so my goal is to just go out there and play.”

(on what Randy Moss said to the team before they left) “Everybody respects Randy Moss. Everybody respects his word and what he’s done on the field. He really just kind of kept it simple. We all know our goal. We all know what we really want, so just make the right decisions and be ready to play on Sunday.”

(on what was being said after falling behind by 17 against Atlanta in the NFC Championship) “Not a lot was being said. More so, we all believed in each other. We all knew what our goal was and we all had that understanding that we wanted to come out of there with a win. I think that’s one of the things that propelled us to the win – nobody panicked, nobody second-guessed each other. We just went out there and put four quarters together.”

(on whether playing at the Superdome earlier this season gives the 49ers an advantage) “We’ve been here before. I don’t think that really matters at all. It’s a game. Every game is different, so we’ll see.”

(on the process of getting a sack) “You beat the guy in front of you. Then you go and make the big play. Everybody cheers and you feel good.”

(on Head Coach Jim Harbaugh) “He’s a unique guy. He still thinks he’s a player. He’s really intense. I don’t know John that much, but I don’t know if he’s as intense as his brother.”

(on Coach Fangio and his dry sense of humor) “Vic is a really cool guy. He’s just cool and he doesn’t say a lot. You’re right on his sense of humor. He makes jokes and they’re not really that funny. He thinks they’re funny, but nobody laughs. He gets his message across.”

(on how Coach Harbaugh acts like a player) “You catch him running across the field, throwing the ball and doing little things like he’s still playing. He’s a big kid out there.”

(on who the team looks up to as leaders) “I think we all lead. I think there are a couple guys that have been playing a long time that you can look up to like Justin (Smith) and  (Patrick) Willis, but there are a lot of guys. Everybody is a leader and that’s what makes us really good.”

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Niners FB Miller excited to face Lewis for first time in career

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

FULLBACK BRUCE MILLER

(on how Head Coach Jim Harbaugh inspires him to play well) “He inspires me, but other guys do it too. For guys like Frank (Gore), when you see the way they practice you don’t have a choice but to block as hard as you can for them. It’s much more of a respect thing for them.”

(on how difficult it is to play offense depending on what things Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman asks him to do) “I get to do a lot of different things because I’m not just running downhill and hitting guys; I get to block and get in different schemes. I love this offense. I think we all take pride in being intelligent football players, so the more they can give us the more we can do, so we take pride in that.”

(on whether or not he would let his son play football, if he had a son) “We’re playing football. I started really young so I’d like to get him started really young and get him going.”

(on if the reports about head collisions dissuades him from letting his son play football, if he had a son) “I think it’s actually getting better with the way trainers are dealing with it. It can only get better with the advancements in technology.”

(on how LaMichael James performed this season and what it was like to be part of the touchdown against Atlanta) “He’s been great to come in and do the things he’s done. The way he runs the football for us has been a huge lift on our offense with him being as explosive as he is.”

(on when he found out that he would no longer be a defensive player and be a fullback instead) “It was kind of up in the air for a while and we kind of flipped sides during training camp. I was playing a little bit of defense and a little bit of offense and I think they just went with whichever one they thought I fit best in, which was fullback.”

(on his description of Coach Jim Harbaugh’s personality) “He’s just a fanatic about the game. He loves football, loves coaching and loves all his players so he gives everything he has as a coach.”

(on what it feels like to come back to the same venue where he won earlier this season) “I’m excited about it. I love playing on the turf and playing in the dome, but hopefully we’ll have a few more fans this time.”

(on how Frank Gore has inspired him) “His work ethic is inspirational. When you see him in the facility, the weight room and the practice field- everyone knows he’s a good football player on Sunday- but his work ethic the other times is what we see. He pushes everyone to be a better football player.”

(on President Obama saying the game of football has gotten too violent) “It is a violent game, but not too violent. Guys are big and explosive players so the game is violent, but I don’t know about too violent. I think they are taking caution to be careful and concerned for the players safety and taking that into account more.”

(on switching to Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and if that opens things up for him) “I don’t know if it’s opened up any more than it was before. I think Colin has opened the offense up with his legs a whole lot more when we do our option plays, so that’s a switch. I think Frank runs the football the same way no matter what play.”

(on if the 49ers and the Ravens are two of the most physical teams in the league) “I think we like to think that we’re a physical team, but I guess on Sunday we will see.”

(on the way Alex Smith was able to handle his emotion) “He’s just a great team player. He’s a professional with the way he’s handled this. He’s been nothing but encouraging for our team and for Colin.”

(on whether he was nervous going into the Chicago game to see how Colin Kaepernick would play) “I don’t think I was unsure. I was more excited for him to show what he could do. I know that around our facility guys knew what he could do and had confidence in knowing he could make plays for us, which is what he showed them.”

(on what Colin Kaepernick is like outside of the game as well as during the game) “He’s definitely more reserved off the field. I actually lived with Colin for a little bit and he’s very to himself, but when he gets in between the lines he definitely gets fired up. He’s a fiery leader for our football team.”

(on how he made the switch from defense to offense) “I think the main difference is guys are a little bit closer. They’re two to three yards away from each other, and it’s different when you have to run eight to 10 yards to make contact with somebody. I’m still learning and working.”

(on how exciting it is for Colin Kaepernick to develop into a player that people are paying attention to) “I’m happy for him that he’s been able to show his talents. In practice you are able to see his physical talents that he has but it’s great for him to just to go out and show that in the Super Bowl.”

(on the winning culture Coach Jim Harbaugh has brought) “From day one, he just coaches football and expects his players to come out and practice and lift weights every day. He expects us to prepare during the week, and guys take those things seriously, which is why I think we’re sitting here now.”

(on how he feels about his position as a fullback being an endangered species in the league) “I think the fullback position in our offense is very important and I’m not even the only one that plays it on our team. We do a lot in the position because a lot of guys move around.”

(on how important the 49ers history is and what kind of legacy they are able to leave this year) “It’s huge and you get the feeling when you’re walking around in the city and fans come up to you and they’re so excited. They want us to bring this winning tradition back to San Francisco. It’s exciting, and we want to do that for them.”

(on if this game is more special by playing against someone like Ray Lewis) “Yeah, he and a lot of their guys are high class defenders in the NFL who have played for a long time. Last time we played them I actually didn’t get to play in the game because I was out, so this is the first time I get to play the Ravens and I’m excited.”

(on how strict curfew will be since they are in New Orleans so close to Bourbon Street) “We have curfew put in place every night this week starting tonight.”

(on his favorite Super Bowl memory) “I am a big Falcons fan so watching them play the Broncos was pretty cool. Also, the one with the Rams and Titans was great, but this will definitely be the best one.”

(on how it feels to finally be at the Super Bowl) “It is so special because it’s such a long season where you put in so much work. When you finally get to the post-season you never know what is going to happen. To make it through the games and to this point, it is finally starting to sink in. When we practiced last week at the facility we were even still shocked coming off the win in Atlanta, so it’s really starting to set in that we are at the Super Bowl.”

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Niners LB Bowman says Flacco “elite quarterback”

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

LINEBACKER NAVORRO BOWMAN

(on if he believes this could be one of the most physical Super Bowls ever played) “I don’t know about ever, but I think it’ll be a pretty physical matchup. Those guys definitely demonstrate physicality, and I would like to think that we do, too. So, I’m excited about the matchup and I’m really looking forward to it.”

(on if he has seen many teams that can match their physicality) “From a coach’s mindset, I don’t think so. They like to say that we’re a very physical team, and we just like to go out there and demonstrate it. It’s the team’s job to play the way that they want to play. We just like to go out there and set the tone early. I think that gives us the best chance to win the game.”

(on if he wondered why he wasn’t drafted until the third round) “Of course. I’ve been playing this game exceptionally well, just doing the things that it’s taken to get to this level. But, when things like that happen, you have to overcome it. You have to put it behind you and deal with the situation that you’re in, and that’s pretty much what I did. Everything has worked out for me.”

(on if he believes teams were hesitant to draft him because of issues in college) “I don’t know. I was young, living my life. Now, I’ve learned from those mistakes and enjoying my life now. I’m happy about everything that’s come my way.”

(on linebacker Aldon Smith’s play this season and dealing with issues) “We’re human, man. We’re not perfect. We’re going to make mistakes, just as you are. That’s pretty much what me, him, any other guy has been going through. But, when it comes to football, it’s something that we like to do. It’s something that frees us up. We enjoy doing it, we enjoy competing, we enjoy being around each other. Aldon’s just done a great job of answering every bell. Even when Parys (Haralson) went down, guys didn’t know how well he would play in the run game. He stepped up to the task and been playing the way that we expect him to play.”

(on if he is surprised by how well Aldon Smith has played as a starter) “Not surprised at all. He was able to show us what he can do his first year. So, I was excited about it, actually, and glad to see him come out on top.”

(on if the first time he believed he could play at a high level was when he filled in for linebacker Patrick Willis in his rookie season) “I always knew I could play, but the first time for me to show it was against Arizona my rookie year. Like I said, that’s what you do: you have to take advantage of your opportunities and that’s what I did.”

(on if he believes the linebackers will dictate the flow of Sunday’s game) “Every game starts with us as linebackers, and we expect it to be like that. We don’t have a problem with it. Our work ethic speaks for itself. Our commitment to our team, to the game, to the preparation for the game speaks for itself. We like to say it starts with us every single game.”

(on how defensive coordinator Vic Fangio calls the game and how he interacts with them) “Vic’s in his own world up there. We’re out there doing what our commander says. Not really going to talk about the scheme or anything, but Vic does a great job with calling the game in a way that we feel comfortable and that he feels comfortable. It’s working out for us.”

(on the influence linebacker Patrick Willis has on him) “Me and Pat’s relationship is very brotherly-like. We do pretty much any and everything together. Whether we have any problems or whether it’s something good, we’re happy for each other’s success. We enjoy playing with each other. I think we both push each other every single day. We don’t get complacent with anything that we receive or accomplish. We always are just trying to do better and make sure we can make our team better.”

(on if Patrick Willis is humble) “A humble guy Pat is. Just a guy who’s always thinking about the next person. He actually surprised us — I think it was last week — with a gift, just because. That’s just the type of guy Pat is. Just demonstrates leadership skills and a great friend, and would do anything for you. I’m just glad to be a part of his team.”

(on the Super Bowl distractions) “That’s a hassle, I’m going to be honest. Just having people chase you down when you’re just trying to go grab a bite to eat, or things like that. It comes with the game, it comes with the success, but if we could put a schedule or something together, we’ll handle that and then we go out and enjoy our days. It’s something that we just have to deal with, I guess.”

(on if he has thought about his late father and high school coach this week) “Yeah, I think about them every single step of this way. From me coming from where I come from, those two really inspire me, had a lot to do with where I’m at, and I wish that they can see me right now, see me shining, see me still working and remaining the person I am. I still have one more thing to do, and that’s to win the Super Bowl. It’ll be for those two men.”

(on what made Aldon Smith the team MVP) “He’s always doing his job. I think that’s pretty much an MVP: always doing his job, you don’t really have to say too much to him, and he’s always producing. When we need a big play, he’s always able to produce that, and I think he’s very worthy of that award.”

(on if Aldon Smith’s defense in the run game was his biggest improvement this season) “Yes, I think so. I think playing a full, 60-minute game in this league is very tough to do. His first year, he wasn’t an every-down guy, and for him to take on that challenge this year, run with it and have the success that he’s having just shows the type of guy he is. He definitely proved himself this year.”

(on if he can appreciate the 49ers teams of the 80’s and 90’s) “Yes, I can appreciate what they did. I think it just puts those teams in another category. It’s an elite category. We have a chance to be placed in that category and we don’t want to let that opportunity slip away.”

(on how Joe Flacco is different from other quarterbacks that he has seen) “I think he executes their game plan very well. He doesn’t let the game get out of control. I think he’s a very good manageable quarterback and understands what his coaches are trying to get accomplished on offense, and understands the matchups that they’re trying to get. He’s definitely, I think, earned the respect of being at the top, doing the things that he’s been doing throughout this season. I think he’s in the ‘elite quarterback’ conversation.”

(on Jim Harbaugh’s personality) “Harbaugh is a down-to-earth guy. He wants to win. I think you would get that if you were around him as much as we are. You understand that he wants to win. He wants nothing but the best for the team. Even if some guys may disagree with some of the things that he does, it always comes together at the end and works out for us.”

(on if Harbaugh takes the time to get to know his players personally) “Always. Harbaugh’s always around, available whenever you need him. Always laughing, joking. Whatever it is, Harbaugh does it. It’s really not a cliché or anything. He’s actually the guy that you see and talk to every day.”

(on the challenges that Ray Rice presents) “He’s their go-to guy. They get the ball to him just the same amount as they get their receivers the ball. In the passing games, he’s a threat just as well in the running game. We’re going to have to be on our ‘A game’ and be prepared for Ray also.”

(on how their linebackers have been so successful) “Preparation, work. We do this. We’re football players. Guys who want to compete, guys who want to make the next big play. On some defenses, you have one or two playmakers, one or two guys who you know are trying to make a play. On our defense, I think we have 11 guys out there that are trying to make a play, that are trying to get the crowd into it, try to make sure that we’re communicating well. Just do all the things well, and I think that’s what makes us a great defense.”

 

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Frank Gore says Ray Lewis “like a brother”

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

RUNNING BACK FRANK GORE

(on what he thinks about Ray Lewis) “Ray is a great player. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s the best at the business. I love him. He’s like a brother (to me). We come from the same school.”

(on whether he knew Ray Lewis got his first NFL sack against Jim Harbaugh) “I saw it on ESPN. I didn’t know it, but I saw it.”

(on what he remembers about last year’s NFC Championship Game) “We didn’t finish. The Giants won the game. It was tough. It was real tough. I had a chance to go to the Pro Bowl and I couldn’t even go because I was so hurt. Knowing that we were the better team, but we didn’t finish. They won and they moved on.”

(on how the 49ers carried last year’s NFC Championship loss into this season) “We set our goals. Our main goal was to get the NFC West, then get the NFC and then the Super Bowl. Once we got in the Super Bowl it was different, real different. Last year we were kind of happy about beating New Orleans. This year, we beat Green Bay, but we were like, ‘Cool, let’s go get the next one.’ It’s just different. Our mindset was totally different this year than last year.”

(on what impresses him about Colin Kaepernick) “What impresses me is that he is a young guy, who started half of the season. When things go wrong he stays calm. Defenses just don’t know what they’re going to get from him. He can run, throw, block. He can do whatever.”

(on whether they are comfortable because they played in the Superdome this season) “It doesn’t matter. It could’ve been anywhere. We still have to play.”

(on the biggest difference with the team this year compared to a year ago) “This year everyone knew that we had a good team. So we knew it was going to be tough and it was tough. We knew, in the locker room, that we have to be ready every week.”

(on how muscle activation therapy has helped him) “It has helped me a lot. Sometimes, after games, it usually takes me two-to-three days to get the soreness out. I go to (a specialist). I see him that Monday and he gets my muscles reenergized. I could be feeling real good that Wednesday and ready to go by Friday. I could play the game that Friday. He’s been doing a great job with me. I’m happy that he came in my life at this stage in my career. He helped me a lot.”

(on the identity of the 49ers) “(We are) physical and tough. It’s hard to break us. We’re going to fight to the end. We have a great team.”

(on the importance of Vernon Davis) “Just being on the field, Vernon is a threat. The guy’s so fast and strong. A lot of defenses can’t do their regular stuff because they have to key in on Vernon. Just him being on the field helps us out a whole lot.”

(on how important the tight end position has become) “It’s real big. A tight end who can catch and also have speed – you can’t put a linebacker on him. You’ll have to bring a safety in or a cornerback to cover him and we can run the ball.”

(on the impact of Randy Moss) “Just being there for the younger guys and helping (Michael) Crabtree and A.J. (Jenkins) and helping Ted (Ginn, Jr.) again, just being a pro. He made big plays this year. When his number is called, he shows up. That’s all we need from him.”

(on his mother) “My mother means everything to me. She was a tough woman. She raised me and my brother and my sister. That was a lot of weight. I love her. She means everything. (This game is) for her.”

(on the difference between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick) “Kap (Kaepernick) is probably a little bit more athletic and can run more than Alex. They both are good quarterbacks. We won with Alex. We’re winning with Kaepernick. Coach (Harbaugh) made the decision to go with Kap, that’s who we’re rolling with.”

(on whether Aldon Smith is starting to wear down from being an every down player) “No. When you watch film you see guys coming out to chip him. It’s not affecting him at all.”

(on whether it was difficult losing a lot of games at the beginning of his career) “It was real tough. It was tough coming to work. Especially for me, coming from a winning program in college. I wasn’t ever used to losing. I used to take it hard. I’m glad that Coach Harbaugh and his coaching staff came at the right time and we’ve done good things.”

(on what he remembers from previous losing seasons) “Some guys, who are not here anymore, were like ‘Whatever.’ I wasn’t used to that. If we lost a game in Miami it was like our season was over. I’m just happy with our coaching style and who we have now. It’s changed everything.”

(on the difference in attitude from a losing season to a winning season) “I love it. You can get up and walk around with your head up. Everybody loves you in the city. You want to practice. Our goal is to get here (the Super Bowl) and we’re here.”

(on whether he ever wanted out of the 49ers) “No, I didn’t. I knew what type of guys we have in the locker room. We had the Patricks (Willis). We had the Vernons (Davis). We had the Justins (Smith). I knew we had players. We just didn’t have the right people to lead us and now we do.”

(on whether he wondered if this time would ever come) “I felt as long as we stayed together (we would make it to the Super Bowl).

(on whether there is a great responsibility playing for a franchise with a rich Super Bowl history) “No, it’s not pressure at all. We’re going to do our best as a team to win. We want to win. We just have to go out there and do what we did all year, being the 49ers.”

(on the difference in the 49ers) “We do so many things now. If it’s not with me, it’s with (Michael) Crabtree. If it’s not with Crab it’s with LaMichael (James) or Vernon (Davis) or Delanie (Walker). It’s just different.”

(on is injury history) “It’s tough. My second knee injury. I thought football wasn’t for me. My coach, we sat down and talked. He really wanted me to keep working. He wanted me to get an opportunity to play in the NFL.”

(on Aldon Smith being named the team MVP) “He deserved it. Last year he had 14 sacks. This year, everyone was questioning whether he could be an every-down linebacker, and he showed it. He is one of the best at the position. He had a great year.”

(on what it means to have depth at the running back position) “It keeps me fresh. I love it. Earlier, in my career, I probably wouldn’t like it, but now, getting ready for the fourth quarter and the defense is probably wearing down and I’m fresh; and I get going.”

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Niners OL Boone expects trash talking from Ravens

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

GUARD/TACKLE ALEX BOONE

(on quarterback Alex Smith being a great teammate) “That could have gone sideways in a hurry, absolutely. I think a lot of people forget how great of a teammate that is. I applaud him every day for making Colin (Kaepernick) better and teaching him and still practicing as hard as he does. That’s a tough situation. I love Alex to death. He’s like a brother to me. He handled it well.”

(on why Alex Smith continued to be a good teammate after Kaepernick was named starting quarterback) “That’s not who he is. He’s not that kind of a guy. He would never want a distraction to separate this team. I think he saw where we were going and to divide that team would be a horrible thing.”

(on Jonathan Goodwin) “He’s like the dad of the offensive line. He takes care of everybody. We’re all a bunch of goof balls, and then there’s Jon, he’s so serious and calm all the time. Jon has played in so many high pressure situations that he understands what this game means. To have him out there is a big deal for us.”

(on Kaepernick’s influence on opening up the run game) “It’s been huge. You line up in that pistol and you never know which way it’s going.  Even when he’s throwing the ball, something breaks down and he takes off running. Frank (Gore) gets the ball and he’s pounding the ball. It just exploits the defense in so many different ways.”

(on if he notices that the defense plays differently with Kaepernick at quarterback) “Oh yeah. Absolutely.”

(on if it’s easier on the offensive line with Kaepernick at quarterback) “Sometimes. Sometimes not, but that’s just part of the offensive line to have fun and just get physical. A lot of it has to do with the read game. That will change up the defense and then the guys will kind of start to read us and we can come off the ball more and it just changes the game a little bit.”

(on President Barack Obama saying he wouldn’t let his son play football) “I’d let my kid play, absolutely. It’s a physical sport nonetheless. You grow up knowing it’s physical and every year it gets different. It takes a different kind of guy to play this game, I think. There are going to be injuries, and there are going to be problems. We’re looking to try to correct them.”

(on making changes to football to help make it safer) “I don’t understand how you do that. I’ve just never understood how you change the game when you’ve got guys who are getting bigger, faster, stronger every year. The technology and the equipment just has to keep going and going.”

(on if he’d be concerned letting his son play football) “No, no. Not at all. If he wants to play, he can play. He’s his own man. With little kids, you don’t have to really worry about them that much, but as you get older, you have to learn how to play the game a little better. I think the NFL is trying to do a great job with that right now trying to teach the little kids to understand. It’s just football. It’s going to be physical.”

(on if the Ravens are a trash talking team) “Most teams don’t really talk that much, but I’ve heard stories about these guys talking a lot. Guys have told me not to get into it with them. We’re not going out there to get into a yelling match. Just go out there and play football.”

(on the how physical the Ravens defense is) “I watched the game last year and just noticed how physical it was. Anytime you watch this defense, you know they’re going to be a physical defense. That’s what they’re known for. It’s going to be one of those full day suckers. You just have to be ready for it. You have to pack a lunch, and you have to know it’s going to be 60 minutes all out.”

(on if the read option offense changes the blocking technique) “Different angles. It changes in the sense that we’re known as being a power offense, so it changes that aspect of it.”

(on offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s offense being considered Old School) “Absolutely. When we call traps and stuff, I think, ‘Man, when was the last time you ran a trap? High school or something?’ You never really run them in college. I think that’s what makes G-Ro so great. He understands football to another level. He understands when things will work or when things are good and when we have to start backing off on this or start hitting this. That’s what makes him the best offensive coordinator.”

(on what makes a trap unique in the NFL) “It’s so hard to trap a guy in the NFL because they’re so much more aware in the NFL. They understand that if I’m not being blocked, somebody is going to come hit me somewhere, so you really have to know when you’re ready to run the trap. Because if you don’t, you’re just going to kill the play, and that’s not what you want. G-Ro is on top of it all the time.”

(on if he was surprised at how well Kaepernick played in his first game) “I’ll tell you this, I was a little surprised until he came in the huddle and said, ‘We’re going in right now. Let’s do this.’ I think everyone was like, ‘OK, let’s do this.’ No questions asked. He went out and had a phenomenal game and has been taking steps every week.”

(on the distractions in New Orleans) “Just staying in the hotel. Coach said it before. We’re here on a business trip. Randy (Moss) even said it. We’re here on business. We’re not here to party. We’re not here to have fun. We’re here to work, and when you’re done, you can do whatever you want.”

(on being down 17 points to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game) “We went in at halftime and everyone said, ‘OK, let’s not panic. Let’s not freak out. Let’s just be who we are, and let’s get back to football. Defense, you stop them. We’re going to go out and drive the ball.’ I think that’s the one thing about this team is we have kind of grown to have a confidence about us and everybody understands it. We can put points up. We just have to be calm. Things aren’t always going to go our way. That’s football, but the key is not freaking out on the sidelines, not getting too upset, not worrying about anything. I think this team did a great job of that.”

(on when Moss talked to the team) “Earlier this week. He made some great comments. To have a guy like that on this team is huge. He said some things that were totally right. We’re here for business. We’re not here to play. We’re not here to have fun. We’re not here to go out.”

(on if he’s surprised Kaepernick has stayed as calm as he has) “No, I’m not surprised at all. I’ve never seen that kid break a sweat. Have you? I’ve never seen him get rattled. He threw an interception the first series in the Packers game. He came over to the sideline, kind of looked down for a second and was, like ‘Alright, let’s go.’ I was like, ‘OK, if you say we’re going, we’re going.’ That’s what I love about him. He’s always so confident, so in the moment, never gets high-jacked, never out of it. That’s what makes him such a great quarterback.”

(on if he was aware of the San Francisco 49ers being 5-0 in the Super Bowl) “I am now. Thanks for that. I appreciate that. We know that we’re 5-0 in the Super Bowl. Those were those teams, and this is our team. And we’re going to try to make it 6-0 by giving it our best shot.”

(on practicing against defensive tackle Justin Smith) “An eye opener. That guy is unbelievable. That guy will rip you apart. He’ll do it again over and over. I feel like I’ve grown so much in this league by understanding football through his eyes. He tells me all the time, ‘Do this. Don’t do this. Don’t ever do this no matter what anybody says, and if they pay you don’t do it either.’ He’s a great mentor, a great friend, and getting a year under playing against him has made everything else slow down.”

(on what Smith has told him never to do) “He always says don’t ever do the same thing the whole game. Don’t ever short step anybody the entire game. Don’t ever step back on them. Everything you do has to do with changing it up. They have to be thinking just as much as you are. The less they think, the more you get affected by it, and it’s helped me tremendously.”

(on if they still have a lot of work to do this week) “We went over something. We went outside, got a nice little jog in, sweat in. For the most part, every day you’re working. You’re always trying to build on more and more and what the game plan is and what their defense is going to do. This week will be very key for us – everyone focusing in, dialing in. There are a lot of distractions out there. I think this team is up for the challenge.”

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49ers, Ravens have never lost in Super Bowl

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

 

SUPER BOWL XLVII: BALTIMORE RAVENS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

 

It all comes down to this.

 

On Sunday, February 3, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will meet in Super Bowl XLVII (6:00 PM ET, CBS) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

 

The game will mark the first time in any of the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL) that brothers – Baltimore’s JOHN and San Francisco’s JIM HARBAUGH – will match up against one another as head coaches in a postseason game.

 

“I guess it’s pretty neat,” says John Harbaugh, who has eight postseason wins in his first five seasons, tied with TOM FLORES for the most since the 1970 merger. “It’s pretty cool. But it’s really about the team. It’s about the players. That’s what it’s about. It’s about those guys. The more we focus on those guys, the better it is for everybody.”

 

The 49ers (5-0) and Ravens (1-0) are a combined 6-0 in the Super Bowl. San Francisco won Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV and XXIX. Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV. This is the 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance since the 1994 season. The Ravens’ lone Super Bowl appearance came during the 2000 season.

 

TEAM

SUPER BOWL RECORD

SUPER BOWL WINS
San Francisco 49ers

5-0

XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX
Baltimore Ravens

1-0

XXXV

 

Super Bowl XLVII will be the second Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX between Dallas and Pittsburgh) in which each team lost its Conference Championship Game the previous year. In 2011, the 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC title game and the Ravens were defeated by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

 

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be in the Super Bowl,” says 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker PATRICK WILLIS, who leads the team with 19 tackles in the postseason. “I’m really grateful for this.”

 

During Championship Game weekend, the Ravens and 49ers became the first set of road teams to win the Conference Championships since 1997 (Denver and Green Bay). In the second halves of their games, the Ravens (21-0) and 49ers (14-0) outscored their opponents 35-0. The AFC (47.7 million viewers) and NFC (42.0 million viewers) Championship Games ranked as TV’s most-watched programs since Super Bowl XLVI.

 

“This is a great moment for our team, for the city of San Francisco and the whole Bay Area,” says 49ers Pro Bowl safety DONTE WHITNER. “Now for the big one in New Orleans. We’re going to be ready.”

 

The Ravens defeated New England 28-13 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game. It marked the first time that the Patriots lost a home game in which TOM BRADY started and New England led at halftime; the Patriots had been 67-0 (including postseason). In the victory, quarterback JOE FLACCO threw three touchdown passes, including two to wide receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN.

 

“Joe Flacco has been great at playoff time,” says NFL Network analyst and former quarterback KURT WARNER. “That’s when he plays his best football.”

 

With the Ravens playing in the Super Bowl, this is the seventh time in the past eight seasons in which a team that played in the Wild Card round has advanced to the Super Bowl.

 

The win at New England marked the sixth road playoff victory for Flacco, the most in NFL history. His eight postseason wins are tied with BEN ROETHLISBERGER for the second-most in a quarterback’s first five NFL seasons, trailing only Brady (nine).

 

QUARTERBACK TEAM

FIRST FIVE SEASONS

PLAYOFF WINS

Tom Brady New England

2000-04

9

Joe Flacco Baltimore

2008-12

8*

Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh

2004-08

8

                                                                      *Currently in fifth season

 

“This is just one of those things you dream of when you are a little kid,” says Flacco about advancing to the Super Bowl. “You watch JOE MONTANA and those guys in the Super Bowl. So to be here at this point is pretty special.”

 

Flacco leads the NFL in the playoffs with a 114.7 passer rating, which includes eight touchdowns and no interceptions. In NFL postseason history, the only quarterbacks to finish a postseason with at least nine touchdowns and no interceptions are former 49ers quarterbacks and Pro Football Hall of Famers STEVE YOUNG (nine touchdowns; 1994) and Montana (11 touchdowns; 1989).

 

Veteran linebacker RAY LEWIS – who was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV – has led the Baltimore defense. The Ravens joined the 2010 New York Jets as the only teams to defeat both PEYTON MANNING and Tom Brady in the same postseason. Lewis, who will retire after the season, leads the NFL with 44 tackles in the playoffs.

 

“Ray Lewis is a guy who has been here since the beginning of this franchise,” says Baltimore safety BERNARD POLLARD. “He’s a guy who is ‘The Raven.’ We all respect him. When he speaks, everybody stops, everybody hears him. He’s kept the team together. He’s kept this organization together in so many ways. We’re all in this together. We want to go win this thing.”

 

The 49ers erased a 17-0 deficit in the NFC Championship Game to defeat Atlanta 28-24. San Francisco is one of only three teams to win a postseason game on the road after trailing by as many as 17 points.

 

“We fought hard,” says 49ers running back FRANK GORE, who rushed for two touchdowns in the win over Atlanta. “We fought and we deserved it.”

 

San Francisco’s COLIN KAEPERNICK, who took over as the team’s starting quarterback in Week 11, has guided the team to a 7-2 record (.778) in his starts, including a pair of postseason victories. In those nine starts, he has a 101.2 passer rating (13 touchdowns, four interceptions) and has rushed for 440 yards with four TDs.
In the NFC Championship Game, he completed 16 of 21 passes (76.2 percent) for 233 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 127.7 passer rating. His 11.1 yards per pass mark was the highest in 49ers postseason history, besting the previous club record of 10.7 held by Joe Montana.

 

“He’s made great plays for us and stepped up big for us all season,” says 49ers Pro Bowl tackle JOE STALEY about his quarterback. “I’m excited to go into this next game with him.”

 

Kaepernick will be the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start the Super Bowl in the same season as his first career NFL start, joining TOM BRADY, KURT WARNER and VINCE FERRAGAMO.

 

QUARTERBACK TEAM

SEASON

SUPER BOWL RESULT
Vince Ferragamo LA Rams

1979

Lost to Pittsburgh, 31-19
Kurt Warner St. Louis

1999

Defeated Tennessee, 23-16
Tom Brady New England

2001

Defeated St. Louis, 20-17
Colin Kaepernick San Francisco

2012

Faces Baltimore on February 3

 

Kaepernick’s seven career regular-season starts are the third-fewest for a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl, trailing only JEFF HOSTETLER (four) and Ferragamo (five).

 

“If Colin Kaepernick plays well in the Super Bowl, he is going to change the face of the quarterback position,” says NFL Network analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer DEION SANDERS.

 

In the postseason, Kaepernick has a 105.9 passer rating and has rushed for 202 yards. No player has ever posted a 100+ passer rating and rushed for at least 200 yards in a single postseason.

 

“Winning the George Halas Trophy is a huge accomplishment,” says Jim Harbaugh. “It’s another flag. You want to get as many trophies and flags as you can. We said at the start of this there are three Super Bowls to win. We have won two so far and have one more coming up.”

FINAL 2012 NFL STANDINGS

American Football Conference

East Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-New England Patriots

12

4

0

.750

557

331

6-2-0

6-2-0

11-1-0

6-0-0

Won 2

Miami Dolphins

7

9

0

.438

288

317

5-3-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Lost 1

New York Jets

6

10

0

.375

281

375

3-5-0

3-5-0

4-8-0

2-4-0

Lost 3

Buffalo Bills

6

10

0

.375

344

435

4-4-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Won 1

 

North Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-Baltimore Ravens

10

6

0

.625

398

344

6-2-0

4-4-0

8-4-0

4-2-0

Lost 1

x-Cincinnati Bengals

10

6

0

.625

391

320

4-4-0

6-2-0

7-5-0

3-3-0

Won 3

Pittsburgh Steelers

8

8

0

.500

336

314

5-3-0

3-5-0

5-7-0

3-3-0

Won 1

Cleveland Browns

5

11

0

.313

302

368

4-4-0

1-7-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Lost 3

 

South Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-Houston Texans

12

4

0

.750

416

331

6-2-0

6-2-0

10-2-0

5-1-0

Lost 2

x-Indianapolis Colts

11

5

0

.688

357

387

7-1-0

4-4-0

8-4-0

4-2-0

Won 2

Tennessee Titans

6

10

0

.375

330

471

4-4-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

1-5-0

Won 1

Jacksonville Jaguars

2

14

0

.125

255

444

1-7-0

1-7-0

2-10-0

2-4-0

Lost 5

 

West Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

z-Denver Broncos

13

3

0

.813

481

289

7-1-0

6-2-0

10-2-0

6-0-0

Won 11

San Diego Chargers

7

9

0

.438

350

350

3-5-0

4-4-0

7-5-0

4-2-0

Won 2

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Kaepernick admires Ray Lewis’ passion, intensity

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

QUARTERBACK COLIN KAEPERNICK

(on the Ravens defensive line) “They are very physical, very big and take up a lot of space.”

(on if playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome earlier this year was beneficial in getting ready for the Super Bowl) “It is always good to be familiar with where you are playing. How beneficial is Sunday? It’s just being familiar with it, but you still have to go out and play.”

(on how playoff pressure is different from regular-season pressure) “I’ve said this before. Pressure, I feel like, comes from lack of preparation. This isn’t going to be a pressure situation, it is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically.”

(on his routine during Super Bowl week) “The same routine we had when we were back in San Francisco.”

(on the difference of regular-season flights and this one to Super Bowl) “Just a bigger plane.”

(on the best advice Randy Moss has given him during the season) “Just go out and play like yourself. Randy has been in my ear about going out and playing like myself and making sure I am relaxed out there.”

(on if the possibility that the Super Bowl might be Moss’ last game is being overlooked) “Yeah. Randy is going to be a Hall-of-Fame player, and he is someone who deserves a Super Bowl ring. We want to send him out the right way.”

(on if the 49ers were told to ‘take it all in’ during their previous trip to New Orleans) “No one said anything about that. We were focused on that time at that moment.”

(on 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh facing his brother, John, in the Super Bowl) “That is a great thing for their family. I think it’s the first time in history, so that is something special for them.”

(on if he imagined himself starting at the Super Bowl at the start of the season) “At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow.”

(on his progression to the starting job at quarterback) “When I first started starting, I was just trying to do well and make sure we were winning games. Things have gone right while we have been playing. We’re here.”

(on maintaining positive attitude when he was not playing) “That is just being focused on what you are trying to achieve. My dad was always in my ear, saying ‘Stay focused, and keep working hard.’ That is what I try to do.”

(on his relationship with Alex Smith before and after he became a starter) “It is the same. We are both trying to help this team get better and be the best team we can be. Anything we can do to make this team better, and help us win this game, we are going to do.”

(on when Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke came to see him at Nevada, and the throwing contest between him and Harbaugh) “We had a few competitions, different drills and different accuracy things. Just head up and see who could compete and win. We had different goal-post throws, who could throw a better spiral, things like that. I let him win the first one, and I won the rest.”

(on how beneficial it is to have a head coach who was a NFL quarterback) “It is very beneficial. He knows what you are looking at, and he knows what you are going through. It makes it easier for him to relate.”

(on how he would describe the locker room right now) “It is really like a family. We are around each other more than we are around anybody else. The time we spend together, and the hard work we put in together, it is going to build a close team.”

(on what his greatest Super Bowl memory as a fan was) “I don’t know. I can’t pick one out. I just remember growing up watching the Super Bowl and being a big fan of it.”

(on who was his favorite quarterback) “I was always a (Brett) Favre fan. I was born in Wisconsin, and my whole family was Packers fans, so I grew up watching him.”

(on his preparation for the Super Bowl) “It is just head-down, keep working. This isn’t a time to relax and get out of your routine or stop working hard. This is when you should be working your hardest.”

(on how much he sees of himself in head coach Jim Harbaugh) “I think both of us are very competitive. We want to do whatever it takes to win, so that is where the emotion and the excitement comes from.”

(on if too much is made of the quarterback play in the pistol and read-option) “I think people have put too much focus on me. I don’t think they realize the other weapons we have on this team. I don’t think they realize the great offensive line that we have. There are a lot of other parts on this team that do great things to make it easy for me to go out there.”

(on what he remembers about Ray Lewis as a player and person) “I have never met him, but his intensity that he brings to the game and the passion that he plays with is very admirable.”

(on why he liked Brett Favre growing up) “The passion he played with. He went out there and played like a kid. He was never afraid to take a chance making a throw. He was going to lay it on the line.”

(on risk-taking as a quarterback like Favre did) “I think it is being smart and taking calculated risks. You don’t want to just be throwing balls up, but there are also times where you have to take chances.”

(on what his biggest adjustment was during his rookie season) “The biggest thing in my rookie year was the terminology of the playbook was completely different from what I was used to. Just picking up on that was the biggest task.”

(on what his biggest memory of the 49ers was as a fan) “My biggest memory of the 49ers was when they beat the Packers in the playoffs (in 1999) with T.O. (Terrell Owens) down the middle.”

(on if there was a question if he was going to be the primary backup at the start of the season) “Yes, there was.”

(on what the competition was in training camp for the backup role) “It was hard work, and it was a competition. I was trying to do everything I could to prove that I needed to be at least No. 2, and that I could go out and play.”

(on if he thought that the college offense would work in the NFL) “I thought it would work to some extent. I didn’t think it was something you could run every play. There are too many good athletes on defense at this level. Not so much the speed, just the fact that everybody is good on defense. There are not really too many people you can just pick on in the NFL like there is in college.”

-SB XLVII-

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Niners LB Willis has relationship with Lewis from prior Pro Bowls

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

LINEBACKER PATRICK WILLIS

(on what he has planned for this game Sunday) “Go out there and play the best football I can and hopefully come out with a win.”

(on how it feels taking the 49ers back to a Super Bowl) “The 49ers had a tradition for a while where they were winning Super Bowls and contenders all the time. They kind of went through a dry spell, so it feels good to be back. It feels good to be a part of what’s going on right now considering the first four years were pretty bad.”

(on being described by head coach Jim Harbaugh as getting the job done kind of guy and not taking credit type of guy) “I’ve always kind of been this way. I’ve always had high expectations for myself. Any time I’m able to make a play or do something that most (people) don’t think I could do or can do. For me, in my mind, I’ve already seen it or felt like I could do it. So I don’t get overly excited about anything because in my mind I’m just doing my job.”

(on how you are going to stop Joe Flacco) “(Joe) Flacco’s a good quarterback. He’s really becoming a quarterback of his own. He has a strong arm and there is no question about how far he can throw the ball and the strength of his arm. He can move a little bit. For us, we are going to have to play team football. Our coverages are going to have to be great and guys are going to have to get after him when they’re rushing.”

(on what his first impression of NaVorro Bowman) “Just to see what he’s been able to do going into his second year, his first year starting, his preparation and seeing how hard he works. There is no surprise seeing him having the kind of success he is having now.”

(on when he knew NaVorro Bowman was as good as he is) “I am not one of those guys who try to say, ‘I always knew this or I saw it then.’ It was just one of those things where I respect and earn – to be able to be given a name, to be able to be considered a good football player, you have to consistently do it on a day-to-day basis and that’s how I went about it with him. I just watched him prepare. I watched him day in and day out. That’s how things unveiled over time, just seeing him consistently do it. That’s where respect, for me, comes in.”

(on people not noticing him) “I’ve always been a firm believer that you go out there and play football and play good football and the rest will take care of itself. As far as Ray Lewis, I will forever and always have respect for what he has done for this game. The way he has played it and the passion he has played it (with). But at the same time, the time is now. I want it bad. We want it bad. That’s just the way it is. We are going to go out there and play.”

(on whether it’s a coincidence he wears #52) “It’s a coincidence in the sense that when I got drafted they had a few numbers, 51, 52, 57 and I’m an even number type guy, so I said to myself, ’52 sounds the best out of all of these numbers and I’m a fan of a guy who wears No. 52 and that will be a number to play up to. That will be a number to be able to wear on your back because a great one is wearing it right now.’ So that was kind of my sense that I took.”

(on whether he has a relationship with Ray Lewis) “(The relationship) kind of started through Pro Bowl times. I’ve always been a fan of his and then when I got drafted, being coached by Coach (Mike) Singletary. I think I played him my first year in Baltimore. I got a chance to shake his hand then, but really got a chance to get to know him a little bit when we were at the Pro Bowl. We sat down outside by the pool, where all the guys hang out, and we just talked. I recall his wise words. He passed some of his wisdom over to me. I’m the type of person, I’m a big fan of those who have been there and done that. Or guys who have done it at a high level consistently. I’ve always had respect for him.”

(on how this week is structured) “We still are going to have the same body of work that we would have if we were back home – same kind of work that we had when we were in Youngstown. The only difference now is that we have to do a whole lot of media, and this is not Youngstown.”

(on whether he calls Ray Lewis Mufasa) “Yes, that is what I call him anytime I shoot him a text or meet him. I call him Mufasa. That’s from the movie the Lion King. By no stretch of the means am I calling him a King. I’m just calling him a King in this game and what it’s about and what he’s been able to do at the linebacker position. He holds that. He holds that crown for the way to play the middle linebacker position and the way it’s been played for a long time. That’s why I call him Mufasa.”

(on his game compared to Ray Lewis’) “I’ve never been a man of comparing because I don’t like when people compare me because we are all our own person. We all have something different. We all have something that makes us who we are. As far as comparing, he plays the game with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. I play with the same kind of passion and enthusiasm. I may not get up and go as crazy as he does at times, but inside when a play is made or something is going good, I burn. I burn inside with that same kind of feeling. I just don’t show it as much.”

(on whether he felt the 49ers were close to a championship before Jim Harbaugh arrived) “Yes. That’s what’s funny because people ask all the time what was the difference. What did he do? Honestly, there were times in those first four years being there that there was no question in my mind that this is the year. We’re going to make a run. I always thought that if we can just get in the playoffs, we have a team that can make the run, but we just couldn’t get over that hump. So he came in, him being the coach of the year, him putting together the coaching staff that he put together. He already had players there that wanted to win, players there who wanted to work. Players there who wanted to go out and sacrifice to do whatever it took to win. With the additional add-ons to some of the guys he brought in and drafted , the coaches and players together were able to find a way.”

(on whether he thinks Harbaugh made the difference) “There is no question in my mind that he is a big part of why we are what we are today, but I think it takes all of us all collectively as a unit and a group, from players to coaches, to management. It took us all together to get us where we are today. It wasn’t just one player or one coach. It was all of us together.”

(on whether there was a moment he could see a turning point)

“The turning point for me in understanding what we have – anyone can pat you on the back, laugh with you, cut up with you when things are going good. It’s when you go through those hard times, when you’re in the heat of battle and things aren’t going so well that you really find out a true man’s character. Last year we were playing against the Eagles and the Eagles jumped out on us big time. We went into the locker room down 17 points. I’ve been part of a locker room whether it’s players or coaches where guys are pointing the finger at one another. Guys are mad and saying this and that. For some reason, that locker room, the coaches and the players came in and we were all like, ‘We’ve got ourselves in this. We have to get ourselves out.’ Coach Harbaugh was like, ‘They said it wasn’t going to be easy, but we don’t like easy. We got ourselves down we have to fight out of it.’ Our defensive coordinator, Coach (Vic) Fangio came in. He had every reason to go crazy on us. He said, ‘Guys you know what we got to do. Just calm down. Settle down and let’s go play.’ I just remember sitting back and watching him and being like, ‘Wow.’  Whether we lost that game or won that game, to me, just to have that was amazing. Fortunately, we were able to go out there and win that game. Which put in more perspective the kind of leadership we have within our head coach and other coaches.”

(on what changed in the second half against the Eagles in 2011) “We just came out and calmed down, but the biggest thing was having our coaches believe in us the way they did. And having the players believe in one another the way we did. That’s the key. I feel like if we came in there at halftime and everybody would have been yelling at one another and coaches yelling and cutting up; I don’t think we would have gone out there with that kind of mindset. Let’s just calm down and focus. We all believe in one another so let’s go do it as opposed to going out there mentally mad at him.”

(on what Randy Moss has brought to the team) “I still remember playing video games, just so you could get him and throw it deep. I don’t know if it was a clinch in the game. I used to think it was a clinch in the game, but to see him in person. To see him run the way that he does. I got the older version of him coming here, but he can still light it up. He can get down the field. That’s just what I see as a person. I can only imagine what he used to run. He has brought so much to our team. He brought leadership. He’s brought wisdom. He just brought the charisma that he has within himself. He comes to work every day. He has a sense of humor. When it’s time to work he works, but at the same time you can go and talk to him. You can go and ask him a question and see what’s on his mind. Some stories you’ve heard before where a guy is so high up you don’t think you can go talk to him because you think you might ask him a crazy question or he won’t have the time. But Randy has all the time in the world for his teammates. If this is his last season, I want to make sure he goes out with a bang.”

(on his scholarship offers) “I didn’t get any big time scholarship offers. Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) was the best one out of all of the schools. The other SEC schools didn’t offer me a scholarship.”

(on whether he wanted to go to Tennessee) “Yes I did. I was a Vols fan growing up. That was like America’s Team. I wanted to go there so bad. After every game my dad and I would get in the car and drive five hours to go to Knoxville to watch them play on an unofficial visit. This was on our gas money and our time. I just wanted to show them how bad I wanted to be there. I can’t forget being there and you have all these other big-time recruits there and they are shaking their hands and the coaches are talking to them. The coaches never shook my hand. They never talked to me. One day I just got tired of doing that. My senior year, I remember going up and saying, ‘Coach I see all of the other guys getting love. I really want to come here. I’m interested in coming here. Do you have something for me? Maybe a scholarship offer? Maybe something just saying you want me?’ But I didn’t get that. I got, ‘Well you’re having a hard time. We’re recruiting two other linebackers, Ernie Sims and Daniel Brooks. Those are the two guys we want and we don’t know if you’re going to make the ACT score.’ I never forget looking at him and being like he basically said we’re not really interested, we don’t want you. I’ll never forget getting in the car with my foster dad and we’re riding home and I cried. I cried, not because I was sad, but more so because I knew how badly I wanted to be a Tennessee Vol. I knew what type of player I could be. I’m sorry that I didn’t go to a 5A school. I’m sorry that I wasn’t in a town that could be recognized, but we are what we are. We are in the situation that we’re in. The good Lord had a plan for me. I ended up going to Ole Miss. Ole Miss, Coach…. and those guys, I thank them. They gave me a scholarship and I ended up going there and had the best four years that a football player could have. Well, we didn’t win that much, one time, and that’s when Eli (Manning) was there my freshman year, but I went there and had a blast and had a great time playing football there. Here I am all these years later. The Lord had a plan for me.”

 

-SBXLVII-

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