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Willis says 49ers can’t make mistakes against Ravens

Posted on 31 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on in-game communication) “Communication is always valuable. It’s something that we talk about in our defense all the time. We talk about if we communicate well, we feel like we can play well. Sometimes on the headsets, if that thing goes out, I’m looking at my coach, Coach (Jim) Leavitt, and I’m just waving my hands like I don’t have a call because that’s how important it is to have that communication throughout the board.”


(on Ravens running back Ray Rice) “I think he’s a good football player because he runs the ball hard. He runs the ball hard. He runs in between tackles well, outside well, catches the ball really well. I’m excited about the challenge. I really am. I’ve heard that he’s been saying a lot of good stuff about us. I’m being sarcastic right now. It’s going to be a good football game. They didn’t get here for no reason. They’re a good football team, but we didn’t get here for no reason either. So, we’ll see on Sunday.”


(on injuries on the defensive line) “I’m not worried at all. I’m not concerned at all. Obviously, it’s the longest any of us have played in one season, but Coach talks about it all the time that we have no excuses. We just show up and do the job. We understand what’s at stake this Sunday. This is a game that none of us have played in, but even through the regular season, we understand that when we’re out there on the field, we do our job. We’re doing it at a high level, so we’re certainly going to do that.”


(on Baltimore being a very intense and physical team) “I like to say that our division has stepped up a whole lot. At one time, the NFC West was a stepping stone for other teams to play. They kind of licked they’re chops to play us because they saw us as an automatic win, but now I really think we’re changing that. As far as the physicality goes in the game, we played Baltimore last year and it was a physical game. I like to think that we play physical games all the time, so we’ll see on Sunday when it’s over with because we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”


(on struggling against the St. Louis Rams) “I don’t know. Give credit where it’s due. They won the game. They made more plays than we did and we didn’t make enough. It’s never good to play five quarters, but if you play five quarters, then you must want to win and we didn’t. Just to sum it up, they made more plays than we did.”


(on how the team has been since arriving in New Orleans) “Yesterday was probably one of our best practices. It’s something Coach talks about all the time. It’s about us getting better every day. You never want to stay the same otherwise you’re not getting better. Today, we have to come out with that same focus we had yesterday, the same intensity we had yesterday and just put it back-to-back and let this week carry us into Sunday, let the momentum (carry) into Sunday.”


(on yesterday’s practice) “We were executing on all cylinders. Our defense was competing. Our look team guys were giving us a heck of a look. Our offensive guys were completing and catching passes, blocking well. It was just an all-around good practice special teams wise and that’s what it’s going to take. Anytime you can have all three phases having a good practice, that’s a good thing. And we have to be able to carry that over from practice into the game.”


(on Chris Culliver’s comments about gay teammates) “That’s something I don’t to get into, hypotheticals, questions. He said what he said yesterday and I know that’s not his heart. Culliver is a great kid, great guy. I love having him on our team. He’s really helped our team be what we are. He’s just young and it’s unfortunate that he came off the way that he came off. But like I said, I know he didn’t mean it in his heart.”


(on being an elite linebacker) “Ever since I’ve been a kid, I always wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing. But as I’ve always wanted to be the best, I’ve known there is always going to be opinions, opinions of who’s the best. For me, I just want to continue to play the game and continue to play it hard and know that each time I look in the mirror, if I can ask myself, ‘Did you give it everything you had today?’ And if I can truly answer that question because I’m the only one that can, then I’m OK with that. It’s just going out there and just competing, and hopefully some day when I’m done playing and people are talking about linebackers, hopefully my name will be mentioned in that. Some day when I’m done playing, hopefully I get to be enshrined in that Hall of Fame as an inductee. That’s my ultimate goal. It’s not about the fame. It’s not about the fortune. I just feel like if I go out there and play the game and play it in the right way and give it everything I have, the most gratifying thing would be to get inducted because no one can ever take that away from you. Money will go, but nobody can ever take that away from you.”


(on how he stays focused this week and not letting comments said to the media distract the team) “Because one, I don’t think it takes us away from our goal, where our mindset is. In this business, it’s always going to be something, and we know those guys. We know those guys hearts. We know that those things that come out of their mouths aren’t intended to hurt anyone or intended to make it about them. We understand what our goal is, and our goal is to win a football game. When there is a whole lot of media involved, it’s easy to take a word that doesn’t mean what they might mean it to mean and make it come off another way or it’s written another way. Our mindset is still what it is. Our mindset is still focusing, and we understand the task at hand.”


(on his close relationship with Mike Singletary) “It was a combination of things. When I first got in this league, it was a little bit different. I came from a 4-3 to a 3-4. I was just used to being a middle linebacker and just spilling and kind of getting on the edge of blocks and things like that. Like I said, I’ll never forget my first practice. Frank Gore ran the sweep, and Larry Allen was coming off the block, and I thought I could just make a move on him and go around him. That didn’t happen. I felt like Larry Allen pushed me from one side of the field to the next, but that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was hearing Coach Sing – he didn’t call me by my name, not in the Senior Bowl or training camp. I think it was one of those things you had to earn his respect for him to call you by your name. He called me 52. He would call me 52. He’d call me Mississippi. As a man, I’m thinking to myself, ‘Man, I have a name. Call me by my name.’ But I didn’t know what I didn’t know then, and Coach Sing was one of the types of people that you had to earn his respect. He always said respect was earned. I said that to say that he was a guy that taught me no matter if I weigh 235 pounds, 240 pounds, it’s about coming down and it’s about letting the other man know that you’re not about the run around me. It’s about letting the other man know that you’re coming right down the middle, and he taught me that. He taught me that that’s possible. I worked with him every day. Now, it doesn’t matter who it is, he can weigh 240 pounds or he can weigh 185 pounds. If my objective is to get to that ball, then I guess I have to go through you, find a way to go through you somehow. That was just the physicality of it, and really just mentally having somebody on your back all the time it can be tough. But at the same time you can grow from it.”


(on what he learned from playing the Ravens last season) “I just learned last year that it’s going to be a 60 minute game. There is going to be very little room for error. They’re a good football team. We can’t allow them to get up on us, and we can’t allow mistakes to happen. I understand that some things will happen during the game. Make no mistake about it, it’s a football game and some things will happen, but we have to make sure we are able to bounce back from it fast and not let it get the best of us.”


(on what about the Super Bowl has surprised him) “Honestly, I really don’t know. People all week have been saying, ‘I bet you’ve been having a blast down there. I bet you this has happened.’ But what they don’t understand is that for me, every game I play in, whether it’s the first game of the season, the middle of the season or it’s the last game of the season, I’m the same person. I still get those same nerves the day before the game, the day before the game, but during the week, I don’t try to do anything different than I would do for a regular season game or a playoff game. I just always want to make sure I’m staying who I am. Who I am is just chilling, laid back, watching film, getting some sleep, eating, and just relaxing. This is the same thing I do during each week. We don’t have so much media, but other than that, I love you guys. You’ve all been pretty good, so I appreciate that. I’m just chilling. I don’t see a big difference other than in the media, per se.”

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Patrick Willis looking forward to challenge of facing Pitta

Posted on 30 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on Ravens fullback Vonta Leach) “Vonta Leach is a good fullback. He is an All-Pro fullback, a Pro Bowl fullback, and really I almost feel like he is the last of the dying breed of what you can call a real fullback. He is a tough guy and a guy that every play you have to come with it.”


(on not letting Vonta Leach into the second level to block) “Really it’s just recognizing what’s going on and recognizing the play and just going after it. You have to understand that you have 10 other guys on the defense and if you do the job that you are supposed to do and let the guys help you with the rest.”


(on his relationship with Michael Oher) “That relationship is good. Every offseason we try to get together and hang out. I love Big Mike like a brother man and he is an awesome guy. Like I said, in the offseason we try to get together and hang.”


(on if it will be odd to see Michael Oher on the other sideline) “No. I don’t want to use the word odd. It’s going to be a blessing to play against someone that you played college ball with and someone that you admire as a person. You wish him well, but at the same time too, we want to win. We are going to do everything we can to go out there and compete at a high level and we want to win.”


(on if he has met up with Michael Oher yet in New Orleans) “No, we haven’t met up yet this week. It’s just crazy with everything and the media stuff we have to do. We have our own teams and we have our own practices, but we are going to try to get together one night this week and see if we can get something to eat if we can.”


(on the growth of Ahmad Brooks this year) “Ahmad is one of those guys that we have been together now for the last four or five years. Just to see how far he has come since the first time he came with us as part of this team has been amazing. It’s been a big change of how he goes about his work and wanting to understand and show us how much it means to him and how much he cares, and showing that the previous things that he had that might have held up his head didn’t matter anymore. He was with us to make a new home and to be better and to make this team a better defense. He playing outside linebacker the way it’s supposed to be played. To play linebacker in our defense you can’t be just a run-around guy. You have to be a stout guy and be able to take on blocks and set the edges, and he does that for us week in and week out. That’s the kind of guy I want to be in the middle with because they set those edges and keep us from having to run a whole lot.”


(on where he is in his career compared to Ray Lewis) “I never have been a person to talk about myself. I tend to let others do that. My job is to go out there and compete all the time at a high level and be the very best football player that I can be. People always make comparisons of me to other people. I have the tattoos I have for a reason. On the inside when I flex, it says ‘I’m me.’ What that means is I have all of the respect in the world to the guys that they compare me too. Those are guys who have been there and done that and guys who are doing it right now at a high level. I just hope that someday I can have that kind of name when people talk about linebackers; I can be one of those guys that are talked about. At the end of the day, I can only be me and I can only be the best football player I can be. I hold myself to a high level and I hold myself to a high standard and each day I want to be able to look myself in the mirror when I come off that field, or come off the game field, ‘Did I give it my very best?’ If I can do that, then I am OK with me. I am never satisfied but I am OK with knowing that I can answer that truthfully because only I know if I did. At the end of the day, I can only be me.”


(on becoming a leader on the defense) “I have never been a big ‘ra-ra’ guy. I have never been a guy that gets up in people’s face. There are all types of different leaders in this world. Some people lead by example and others lead by words. Some people lead by not saying anything and people just feel it. I am the type of person that has always been taught to work for what you want and to work for what you want to accomplish. I am a lot better worker than I am a talked. Just let me show you and you just watch. I will show you want we are talking about. To have the kind of guys I have played with over the years and the kind of guys I am playing with now. It’s not hard to go out there and show them because those guys care and they want to win. Anytime that you have a group of guys like that, it makes your job a little bit easier.



Super Bowl XLVII – Wednesday, January 30, 2013






(on how much media he is consuming) “Obviously, when you are walking by the TV right now there are only two teams. There are only two football teams left. It’s just us and the Ravens. When you walk by the TVs you see them talking about the Super Bowl. I don’t like reading the papers a whole lot. I don’t like to sit down and listen to what people have to say. At the end of the day, everyone is going to have an opinion and if you get caught up in what they are talking about and you are not a strong-minded person then you can let it bother you. I try not to pay too much attention to it.”


(on why the 49ers will win if it’s a close game) “If it comes down to a close game it will be because we made more plays and we executed more. It will be because we wanted it more.”


(on what the biggest challenge on Sunday will be) “Our biggest challenge on Sunday will be going out there under the bright lights and playing a complete football game from across the board, offense, defense, and special teams. It’s hard because sometimes you might have two phases, sometimes you might just have one, but if you can get all three phases then a lot of time that guarantees you a chance to win.”


(on playing in the Super Bowl) “It’s going to be crazy man. I never really been a super bug emotional guy when it comes to making a play or winning the game, but right now we are here at the Super Bowl and it’s a normal week to me with a whole lot more media. I’m doing nothing that I wouldn’t do at home during a regular season game. I don’t like using the extra energy that I don’t have to use. Why change anything? Why change your routine and the things that got you to this point. This week I really don’t think it’s going to hit me until the night before. I’m usually like, ‘It’s game day tomorrow, let’s go.’ All during the week it’s just preparation and getting yourself in tune. It’s just getting yourself mentally there and physically there and then the night before the game, I think that’s where my nerves start moving and it’s hard to sleep. I’m like, ‘OK, it’s coming.’”


(on the pending case between former NFL players and the league regarding player safety) “That’s something that I don’t really want to get into. Like I said before, if people have something wrong with them, then I guess they are going to say what they have to say. That’s the talk and subject right now. I have nothing to do with that right now. I am doing alright. I don’t know. I don’t want to touch on that subject.”


(on how he will calm his nerves before the game on Saturday night) “Really man, the biggest thing that I try to do is before I go to sleep on Saturday nights. I just sit down and I will pray. I just ask the Lord for peace and say, ‘Lord, let your will be done.’ At the end of the day His will will be done regardless of what we want the outcome to be. I just pray and hope that when I go to sleep at night that he will give me peace. I wake up in the morning and am ready to go.”


(on the problems that Dennis Pitta presents) “Dennis Pitta, he has emerged to be a good tight end for them. He is a guy who is very elusive and can stretch the field. He is one of the guys that I’m sure I am going to have my times of covering and I am looking forward to the challenge. I really am. I still say that there are very few linebackers that go out there and they cover the way that I do in our packages. It will be a great challenge to go out there and showcase not only play the run and play in the box, but I can play outside of the box as well. It’s going to be a key point I’m sure when I am on him. I am looking forward to the challenge.”












Super Bowl XLVII – Wednesday, January 30, 2013






(on how Ray Lewis has influenced him as a linebacker) “He has influenced me in the sense that he has played the game for so long at a high level. He plays with passion and he plays with enthusiasm. I call him the Mufasa of middle linebackers. He is just that type of guy that when you watch him you just say, ‘Wow.’ The legacy that he is leaving is a legacy that I feel like will never be forgotten for as long as football is around. He will be one of those names that for as long as people talk about linebackers people will say, ‘Wow, that Ray Lewis.’ That’s the kind of passion that I try to play with. That’s the kind of passion that I strive to play with. That’s the kind of passion that before I even knew who Ray Lewis was, I have always tried to play with. To see him do it at this level and be recognized the way he has, and to see his play, when people talking about passing the torch, that’s the kind of torch that I want to see and I’m sure other linebackers are also. When you watch him play you say, ‘Wow, that’s a bad dude.’ That’s what I have been a fan of, his passion for the game, his heart for the game, the way he plays every snap and the way he plays every play, play in and play out. That’s for real. I just hope that someday, when I am done playing this game, that when I am done playing that they can say those same things about me as well.”


(on why he wears number 52) “It’s one of those things that when I was drafted they asked me and said, ‘What number do you want?’ They gave me 51, I think these are the numbers, 57, 58, 59. Honestly, I’m an even number guy one. Two, 52 just looks so much better than 51, 58, 57 and 59. Maybe that’s just me. Not only did that number 52 look better, I also knew that a guy that I know right now and at that time was wearing that number. It’s one of those numbers that if you wear that number you have to represent. I said to myself that this will be a number play into. This will be a number to represent. At the end of the day, there are expectations behind this number and for this number. You have to show what this number is about and since the time I was drafted I was saying that I have to have 52. If I could have had my college number of 49, then I probably would have had 49. That’s where it is six years later.”


(on how he has adjusted to living in California) “Living in Bruceten (Tenn) and then going to Mississippi, then going to California, it was a big change. You don’t know what you don’t know. Coming from the small town I grew up in, when I went to Ole Miss, I thought, ‘Wow man, this town is huge.’ Other guys would come from Florida and Louisiana and I played with some teammates that would laugh at me and say that this town is small and complain about how small it was and I was talking about how big it is. Then I got out to California and I will never forget that when they picked me up from the airport, and all of the sudden they took me city, I don’t know if we went into San Francisco first or San Jose first, but either way, both are just very, very big places. I just remember being like, ‘Wow, this is a lot of cars. How am I going to drive in all of this traffic?’ Little by little you learn to adapt and now I call San Jose and San Francisco my home. That’s where I bought my house and hopefully that’s where I will be for a long, long time.”

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Willis says wearing 52 has nothing to do with Ray Lewis

Posted on 29 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on the linebackers from the 49ers and the Ravens) “This is going to be a defensive battle. Our linebacker corps, I feel like we have the best linebacker corps in the NFL. I really do. Our guys come out every week, week-in and week-out, and we play for each other. Baltimore has those same kind of guys with (Terrell) Suggs and Ray (Lewis) and (Dannell) Ellerbe. It’s going to be, for sure, a defensive battle.”


(on wearing Ray Lewis’ number) “This is a 49ers jersey, and this is my number. I’ve always answered that question anytime I’m asked I have all the respect in the world for Ray. When I chose this number it was more so the best number they had at the time. When I was drafted, they asked me if I wanted 51 and 57 and 59 or 52. I didn’t want any of those other numbers, and 52 was the best number I felt. I’m an even number guy. I’ve always been an even number guy, and then I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I get the number 52? I know a guy right now who wears that number who is one of the best. It will be a great number to play up to.’ That’s kind of how it came about.”


(on playing in the Super Bowl) “As a kid, you grew up watching. Just to have the opportunity to be able to play in this game given (that) my first four years, we were at home at this time watching other teams play. Last year we were one game away. To be able to be here, is truly special.”


(on the role his faith has played in his career) “My grandmother kind of got me into church. She was a lady that every Sunday you’re going to go to church. Every Wednesday you’re going to go to church, every bible study, every day. The thing I’ll never forget is when I got ready to go away to college, I’ll never forget telling my grandmother, ‘OK, I’m getting ready to go to college.’ I was the first person in my family to go to college, to stay and graduate. I’ll never forget something I’ll always take with me. She said, ‘Baby, no matter what you do, always keep your hand in God’s hand. My grandmother is someone that was like a mother to me that raised me. I love her. She is still alive and still strong. She still talks to me all the time and says, ‘Keep your hand in God’s hand. Just keep on believing in God.’ That’s something I don’t push on anybody because we all have our own beliefs, but I believe and I have faith that he is why I am where I am today.”


(on Jim Harbaugh placing emphasis on the team over  individual players) “It made a lot of sense, when you find someone that talks a lot about himself a lot, it just kind of throws you off. Is he stuck on himself? Is he conceited? Is he this or is he that? One thing Coach Harbaugh brought to us is, he said, ‘Instead of talking about yourself, talk about the man next to you. Talk about the man beside you.’ He said when you talk about yourself, you believe in yourself, but when you talk about others, he said, ‘A tide will rise all ships.’ He also said, ‘Loose lips sink ships.’ It’s about building up one another. It’s about talking about the next guy, letting other know that it’s not just about me. It’s about these other guys around me. That’s what our team is about. We all understand that we would not be here at this point if we did not all buy in. Not just one person guides you.”


(on how placing an emphasis on talking about the team changed the chemistry of the team) “It went from being about me, about I, to really just making it about us and one another. Anytime you can have a bunch of guys that are like that, I think you’ll have a great team. I really feel like that’s what makes our team what it is. We have a bunch of unselfish guys across the whole board. I remember we didn’t always have that. Now I can honestly say across the board we do have that.”


(on growing up in Tennessee and being overlooked in high school) “Growing up in Tennessee and playing I-A ball, they tend to kind of downplay and tell you, ‘Oh he’s not that good. His level of competition is not that high.’ You can’t help the situation that you’re given. You can’t help the circumstances that you’re brought up in, but you can do something about it. I was someone that I wasn’t going to be told otherwise. I wasn’t going to be told that your level of competition is not that high or that you’re not that good of a player. I went out there every day and I worked to be the tough football player that I am today from middle school to high school to college. I’ve always been fueled by someone telling me I can’t do something or I’m too small or I’m too big. I just tuck it and use it as fuel.”


(on losing his brother) “I lost my little brother, Detris Willis. He was 17. I was going into my senior year of college. I’ll never forget getting that phone call and just hearing about it. I will never forget just dedicating my senior year to him. I said, ‘I’m going to play for us both – for me and for him.’ Honestly, I really felt that he was going to be a better senior player than I was, that he was going to be a better college player than I was. He had all the better attributes that it took to be an amazing football player, but God had different plans for him. He’s watching on me today. I feel like everything happens for a reason. Back then, I didn’t know why. Sometimes if you try to figure out things and try to make sense of things, and ask why do things happen for a reason, you can drive yourself crazy. But here we are six or seven years later and getting to play in the Super Bowl. There is no doubt that he has been a big part of that. There’s no doubt that the Lord let him be my angel.”


(on his faith) “It’s just believing and believing in the purpose. I’ll never forget when I was coming out and getting ready for the combine. I had no idea who was really interested. You had different teams that would fly you there on all different visits, but I had no idea. I never forget praying. I never forget being told, ‘You had all these linebackers ahead of you.’ I had so many other guys ahead of me, and I’ll never forget getting on my knees – true story. I’ll never forget getting on my knees and saying, ‘Lord, I don’t know where you’re going to bless me to go. I don’t know who it’s going to be. I just want to go somewhere where it’s warm. I want to go somewhere where I can walk out on my balcony and take my shirt off. I want to go somewhere where I can drive my cars every day and not worry about it raining or snowing, and most importantly, I want to go somewhere where I can make it my home. I want to play the best football I can play.’ It’s a true story. That was my prayer on draft day. The Lord blessed me to go to the 49ers, and I still say today – I grew up a Cowboys fan and I couldn’t stand the 49ers for nothing – just when I prayed that prayer, and for them to call me unexpectedly, I was coached by them in the Senior Bowl, but I didn’t go and visit. But for them to call me and for me to go out there where the weather is nice, and I can walk out on my balcony, I can drive my car, and most importantly, I was able to make it my home. I knew it was him. It was all his will. That’s how I am.”


(on honoring God when he plays) “I used to get mad. I used to get mad when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to on the field. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘I’m going to get an interception today, or I’m going to get three sacks or I’m going to get this many tackles today.’ When I wouldn’t get that I’d say, ‘Man, what’s going on?’ Sometimes you can lose yourself in your faith if things don’t go the way you want. It’s easy when things are going good, but when things go bad, you get mad and you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ With him, I’ve learned. Every game, I pray about 10 prayers a game. What I always end it with is I say, ‘Lord, let your will be done today.’ Whatever happens out there on field and at the end of the day, I know in my heart I’ve given my all. So, therefore, I’m able to go home. Don’t get me wrong now, I’m still up. I still don’t sleep like I want to, but I don’t let it get me like it used to because like I said, I pray and his will will be done.”


(on Aldon Smith) “Aldon is a heck of an athlete. He’s a guy that just gets it, and then he comes to work every day. He gives me feedback when I’m going against a back or a rush or whatnot. He says, ‘Pat, you have to use your hands.’ He gives me advice, and I trust him no matter if he’s two years in and I’m six years in. When a guy of his caliber can rush the way he can rush, he can give me advice all day and I’ll listen. We’re very grateful to have Aldon on our team. He’s going to be a player that’s going to be recognized.”


(on defensive coordinator Vic Fangio) “Coach Vic, he’s a great guy. I’ll never forget the first time I met him. He got hired, and he texted me and said, ‘If you’re in town, I want you to come by the office.’ I’ll never forget coming by the office and for the first time I didn’t imagine him looking like an Italian guy. I just remember shaking his hand when I left after talking to him. He just told me some things that he was expecting a little bit. Coach Vic, he’s as super quiet guy but he’s very smart. He’s a guy that he won’t toot his own horn. He won’t, but he is unbelievably smart. I can honestly say that he is a guy that when he puts that game plan in front of us, there is no doubt that he didn’t go through it and thought about every single thing that he’s put down. He’s thinking. Another thing I love most about him is he doesn’t – every now and then he gets heated – but for the most part he doesn’t. He trusts us out there on the field. He trusts in his players. Sometimes you might not have a good series of tackles, but he’s always going to stand behind you. He’s constantly always showing us that believes in us. He’s the kind of guy you want.”

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Most Important Individual Matchups in Super Bowl XLVII

Posted on 28 January 2013 by jeffreygilley

Super Bowl 47 is filled with many fantastic individual matchups. In this article, I will list what I consider to be the most important matchups as well as who has the edge in that matchup.

Ed Reed VS Colin Kaepernick

Ed Reed’s legacy is on the line in this game. Even without a Super Bowl ring, you could make an argument that Reed is the best safety to ever play the game. So, with a ring, would that even become an argument? That will be discussed no matter the outcome of the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick is not a one trick pony. He can make any throw and loves to throw the ball deep to Vernon Davis. Therefore, Ed Reed should have plenty of opportunities to make plays against a young quarterback.

Ed Reed has two weeks to prepare for this offense. Therefore, I give the advantage to Reed.

Edge: Ed Reed

Ray Lewis VS Frank Gore

Ray Lewis did not play against the 49ers last season. Because of his absence, the 49ers have not played against a linebacker with Ray’s instincts and intensity. While Ray has lost a step, Gore is not the type of player that can consistently break long runs. Therefore, Ray will be able to keep up with Gore.

These two players are simply too good to give the advantage to one player or another. Frank Gore has played against the Ravens twice, once in 2007 and the other in 2011. In those games, Gore has averaged only 45.5 yards rushing. But in those games, Gore’s offensive line was not as talented as it is this season.

Edge: Even

Justin Smith VS Kelechi Osemele

From watching the 49ers postseason games with an injured Justin Smith, it’s no secret that they have struggled to apply pressure. Aldon Smith has struggled mightily since Justin Smith’s injury but when the two are healthy, the two are a terrifying combination.

Justin Smith will be moved around but for the most part, will be matched up with Kelechi Osemele. Osemele played well at tackle but at this point in his career, is better at guard. Osemele is one of the bigger guards in the league and that should help him against Smith.

Osemele will also have to watch out for Aldon Smith, who runs a lot of stunts to the interior of the offensive line.

Despite Osemele’s talent, Smith is a veteran and giving him the edge is a no-brainer.

Edge: Justin Smith.

Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher VS Aldon Smith

On August 25, the 49ers traveled to New Orleans to play the Saints. In that game, Aldon Smith recorded 1.5 sacks, which gave him 30.5 sacks for his career. This, in turn made him the fastest player to reach 30 sacks. Who did he pass on his way to that record you ask? Reggie White.

Obviously, Smith is doing something right. The supremely athletic linebacker/defensive end seems to play better on big stages and none is bigger than the Super Bowl. Oher should be able to hold his own but the much older McKinnie will have his hands full. On passing downs, expect to see Ray Rice or Vonta Leach in pass protection to help slow down Smith. Running some screens where Rice blocks and then releases on a pass route will also help slow down Smith.

Edge when against McKinnie: Aldon Smith
Edge when against Oher: even

Vonta Leach VS Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman

Of all the matchups in the Super Bowl, this might be the best. In 2011, Leach and Willis exchanged blows and Leach embarrassed Willis on one particular play.

Willis is widely considered the best linebacker in the NFL and Bowman is not far behind him. Expect this to be a back and forth battle for the entire game.

Edge: Even

There are many matchups that are evenly matched. Therefore, this game will come down to lesser-known players making big plays. For the 49ers, the two most likely players to play that role are LaMichael James and Delanie Walker. For the Ravens, Jimmy Smith and Tandon Doss are the most likely candidates.

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Niners LB Willis has relationship with Lewis from prior Pro Bowls

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff


(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.”



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