Divisional Round Morning Thread: Ravens Vs. Texans

We get two more games of football, and if one of them is half of what we saw in the final few minutes of the 49ers win over the Saints, it'll be a fun day. And even if not, I might very well be too exhausted to care. I'll have the game on, but for this morning game, it is more just a matter of taking some time to relax and kick back.

This first game features a Texans squad that does have a strong defense and Arian Foster, but somehow still seems at times to be put together by duct tape and not much else. That's a gross exaggeration, but they remain a funky team. I don't think they stand much of a chance in Baltimore, but I will continue to cheer them on hopes that they can spring the upset.

T.J. Yates is going to need to make some plays against an always tough Baltimore Ravens defense. Arian Foster and the Texans defense will get their opportunities, but if Yates struggles too much, the Texans could be in trouble quickly.

We'll be back around 1:15 with a Packers-Giants thread. In the meantime, if you want more 49ers content, after the jump I've posted transcripts for all the 49ers post-game interviews. Enjoy.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - January 14, 2012
San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Opening Statement:

"Well, just really proud of our team. You're going to live or die in these games. We lived. We move on and we move on in spectacular fashion. Really proud of our football team. I know there was ‘The Catch'. I don't know what you're going to call this one. The throw? The throw and catch? But it was a great play by [TE] Vernon Davis and [QB] Alex Smith. Vernon was huge today in this ball game. It was a great team effort. Great team victory. I also want to talk about our kickoff coverage. I think those guys are just the best darn guys in the business at covering kicks. A lot of other things. We knew they were going to make plays. We knew we were going to make plays. We felt that we would make more plays and it ended up that we made one or two or three more than they did."

Talk about the job your defense did, particularly in the first half, forcing all the turnovers and getting you every opportunity to take the lead and take control of the game.

"We got some spectacular stops. On third down, I thought they were outstanding. Five takeaways in the game. I know the special teams contributed to that as well. Very opportunistic today. Got pressure on their quarterback. Made plays on the ball, and made them when they were there to be made, our guys in the secondary made them. Got some huge stops in the game. It was a terrific job by our defense, once again. You just love the way they play. You love the way they compete. Love how hard they work on the field."

Can you tell us the name of the play that the throw and catch was that won the game? Are you allowed to?

"Yeah, the main part of the play was Vernon-Post. We told Alex, we said, "Let's go to Vernon here. It's either Vernon or nobody." [Quarterbacks Coach] Geep Chryst did a great job calling that play. He designed it. It worked. Great job by Geep."

What about the run by Alex around the left side when he scored there? Can you tell us the name of that one?

"QB-9."

Have you run either of those plays today? Or when's the last time you ran either of them?

"We've run the one with Alex. The one that Alex scored on, we've run that before. I can't remember exactly what game that was. It was a home game. I think it was the Giants. The Vernon-post was new to this game plan."

What were the Saints showing you that youou felt like it was the time to break open plays like that. Were the Saints showing you anything particular in their coverages that you felt like those plays would be effective?

"We were really taking some shots all game long. I felt Alex played extremely bold. Might be time to give Alex a little credit, huh? Spectacular performance by him as well. We just put things in his hands and our offense's hands. They really did a great job learning this game plan, understanding it and then going out and executing it."

Have you ever had another play go running into your arms crying, tears running down their face ever?

"A few times, but that was special. I don't know if there was anything ever better than that. I can't remember winning a game in such spectacular fashion as this one."

What was Alex's demeanor like after the TE Jimmy Graham touchdown? On the sideline?

"It was no different than it was any other point in the game. We knew we were down by 3 and we had to get at least a field goal to put it into overtime. Then he makes the great throw to Vernon on the go-route. Then we wanted to press it. We wanted to go for the touchdown and take our shots."

Did you go into the game thinking that Vernon was going to be a big factor or did he make himself a big factor?

"Vernon is always a big factor in any game plan. He was singled up a lot today. They were trying to bring heat and play man-to-man coverage. We won a few times with Vernon getting the separation and making the big run after catch. In the first quarter when we got our first touchdown, similar play to what Jimmy Graham made there in the fourth quarter."

When you were practicing that play to Vernon, were you thinking that that could be the "go to" play for a situation like that?

"We wanted to call it. We felt like that's the look we would get. It was really good game planning by Geep Chryst. He drew it up. He showed everybody how they would play. Got a good simulation of it in practice, at least two or three times. Worked on it. That was a great throw by Alex. He had made that similar throw in practice, too. The interesting thing about it though is that every time we practiced it, we practiced it going right. That was the first time we threw it going left, was this ball game. That was the best one. That was the best one of all of them, right there."

When did Geep draw that up?

"I think we installed that on Wednesday."

How do you sense that that's going to be the kind of play that would work?

"Just what he saw on film. Thought that that was a look that we would get. [S Roman] Harper would be on the goal line. Soft peddling into the end zone. Vernon would cross face and we would make the throw."

So, [Offensive Coordinator] Greg [Roman] decided at that point to go to it? Or was that your call?

"Geep called it. Geep came over to the headset and called it. I relayed it in to Alex."

When you hugged Vernon, what did you tell him? It looked like you whispered something into his ear?

"I said he's a great football player. There's a special place in your heart for players that play great in the big games. You love them all. You really do. You love all the players. But, the guy that plays great in the big game. Boy, there's just a little extra space for them. That's what I was telling him, that he's a great football player."

When you said it might be time to give Alex some credit, what did you mean by that?

"I think exactly what I said. Time to give him some credit."

That Alex run on the QB-9 play, is he reading anything on that play or he just gets it and sprints to the left corner?

"It's to circle the defense. It's to get it outside to stretch it from hash to numbers to sidelines. He got a great block from [WR] Kyle Williams. A great, physical block. That's Kyle Williams, number 10, blocking their defensive end. That set the play off. We got two good blocks on the perimeter as well. It was pretty free sailing. He had free access to get past the first down line. Alex has got great athletic ability, great running ability, and then took it down the sideline for the score."

You've been involved in a lot of big NFL games. How does this rank?

"Right now, it feels like the best. It really does. Like I said before, I can't recall a win like this in this kind of spectacular fashion, as this by our football team. A great team win. Our defense played phenomenal football. Our special teams, the coverage units, they are the best in the business at what they do. The [LB Blake] Costanzos, the [LB Tavares] T-Goodens, [FB] Bruce Miller and [CB Tramaine] T-Brock. I know I'm leaving somebody out, but they run down and cover kicks. They had a lot of opportunities to do it and they did a phenomenal job."

What was it today that made you guys steer so heavy towards the pass and away from the run game? At least numbers-wise?

"I thought we were pretty balanced. We got some good gains in the run game as well. We knew that they were going to turn it into a blitz game on the second and third downs. We were going to have to make plays. Both teams made plays. Both teams made plays defensively, offensively, special teams. We knew there would be an ebb and flow, but we would prevail and make more plays. Our guys executed it."

How is that different as a player than as a coach? You did it as a player, these big NFL wins, but as a coach how is that different? Do you embrace it differently? Does it mean more?

"Yeah, I would say it does. It means more. It means that these guys are my heroes, these players. I grew up dreaming of being an athlete. Wanted to be an athlete. Those guys that were athletes were my heroes. Pretty much burnt up my childhood days thinking about that. That time's past me by now, but my heroes are still these athletes. Our guys and the way they play. I'm just really proud of them. Loved the way they competed and fought today. This was an all day sucker and they prevailed."

Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio

Press Conference - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Defense set the tone for the day. Was that an emphasis all week?

"Yeah, certainly. We wanted to come out and play our style of football, which is playing physical, being a great tackling team, and playing with good fundamentals which has carried us all year. We just wanted to play the way we've played all year, particularly starting early in the game."

Was there anything in particular that you did to force the fumbles or the loose balls? Did you focus on that in any way this week at practice? Did you look at film that showed some vulnerability by them?

"No, we emphasized it all the time from day one. Our guys were humming. We were able to pry a couple out and that was big. The interceptions were big also."

Did something change at the end or was it just the simple matter of you guys running out of gas?

"No, I don't think they changed anything at the end. It became obvious to everybody, a big passing game for them. They just have two great players there in [RB Darren] Sprolles and [TE Jimmy] Graham who made some plays. We had guys there. Those guys are great players and they made plays. I think part of the most critical parts of the game was at the end of the first half there when they had three possessions and two-minute drives that were very doable for them to go down and score points and we held them three times there at the end of the half with nothing, when they had two-minute drives available to them. That was critical. I thought the third quarter, when we were struggling on offense, we were able to hold them down also. I thought those were big parts of the games."

A lot of today, you were only rushing three people, playing a lot, like eight, in coverage. Is that what you normally do or just because of their offense?

"We do it some all the time. One of the advantages of playing the 3-4 is you can rush three guys sometimes because you have four linebackers out there. Against a passing game like this, and a quarterback like [QB Drew] Brees, you need to be able to mix it up. We rushed three, we rushed four, we rushed five, we rushed six once or twice in the game. We did it all. With a quarterback like this, you cannot do one thing and one thing only."

How important was it to chip at him? Get him out of his rhythm? Just to knock him out of his rhythmic passing game? How were you able to do it?

"I think it's very important if you can get that accomplished with a quarterback like him and the offense that they have in general. The way we did it was just keep mixing it. We rushed three, four, five, six. We played a lot of man. We played a lot of zone. We didn't get into a rhythm on defense to allow them to figure out what we were doing hopefully."

DT Justin Smith has made a lot of great plays throughout the season, but was this his most complete game? He seemed like a force throughout.

"That'd be a tall statement to say it was his most complete game. I haven't watched the tape yet, but obviously he came up big today. He was ready. You could just sense it him all week. Particularly as the game got closer, this game meant a lot to him. He was going to bring it and he did. Does not surprise me. In training camp this year, on the cover of our notebook was a picture of him and I had on there 0-1. He had only played in one playoff game in his career and he was 0-1. Our main goal from the first day of training camp was to get him back in the playoffs and get that goose egg off the board. And we did that."

In a year when offenses were making news across the league, with 5,000 yard passers, this defense kind of brought everything back to the old school way. Especially playoff football. Do you take a lot of pride in that?

"We do. We like to think that we play defense the right way. We play physical, we play with our hands. We run to the ball. We don't try and do anything too fancy, although we do have our changeups here and there. We try and play defense the old fashioned, hard school way."

Your overall philosophy today was no big plays, right?

"That's the philosophy every game. We were doing pretty good at that until those last two scores they got. Kind of put a little wart on the performance. Thank God our offense came through there at the end. But yes, with a team like this, you've got to make them go the long way and hopefully you'll end up making a play yourself and we did. We got some turnovers. We got off the field on third downs some. We had a nice run of good defense there. They're a hard team to contain when you keep giving them the ball back."

Even on those two plays, you had somebody hit their guys both times. That was part of the philosophy, right?

"Right. We wanted to get close to them. We didn't want them to have an easy day of pitching and catching with the ball. We wanted to challenge them."

Do you ever remember a game where you gave up this many points and felt as good as you do?

"No, it's like I said, they said they wanted me to come in here and talk to you guys and I said ‘we gave up 32 points, that'd be a first for me.' I really had a feeling during the game that we were really playing well. More important, from my perspective, and the rest of the coaches' perspectives, we were doing what we needed to do to try and win that game on defense. Our plan was good, we were calling it good, our players were playing good. They've got great players over there. They've got a great scheme. You keep giving them the ball back, they're eventually going to get some scores on you. We had guys in position on both of those last two touchdowns, but they're great players and they made the plays."

Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Were they loading the line on that touchdown run near the end by QB Alex Smith?

"Yeah. They do a great job with that stuff, the overload stuff. It was one of those deals where it could have been a mess or it could have been great and it was great."

When you saw it lining up what was it like?

"Excitement was in the air. It was a great job by the players and obviously a great job by [TE] Vernon [Davis] there at the end. It was an unbelievable, unbelievable game by him and I'm just so proud of him."

Did you learn anything new about Alex Smith from this game?

"No, not at all. I hate to sound like that but I had all the confidence in the world in him."

Do you talk to him between series'?

"A little bit, sometimes, when I need to. I usually communicate through [quarterbacks coach] Geep [Chryst]. Not a whole lot. He was on it, we just had to clean up some protections. We try not to over coach during the game. We say what we need to say."

Was there any impulse to play it safe at the end and just go for the tying field goal?

"No, zero. They're a great team and once Vernon made that huge play down at the 20, Geep Chryst, our quarterbacks coach who was in Carolina and played against them twice a year, he knew there was a red zone tendency that he really felt strongly about and it really paid off hitting Vernon on that bang-post."

Is that something you want to do after a big play from the other team?

"No doubt, go for it. There's no question and plus we had a play we believed in."

And that play wasn't a play in your book until this week?

"Yeah, it was very specific for the Saints."

And what about the sneak, the QB nine?

"I had that as a critical call for the game and they were overload blitzing us over here and it was completely a 50-50 roll of the dice on what side they were going to blitz us on. If they overload blitzed into it, it would have been a mess. So that was just one of those deals where you have to roll the dice and just go with it. But, conversely, if they blitz away from it, a big payoff and that's what happened."

Head coach Jim Harbaugh said the throw to Vernon was called ‘Vernon post. ' Is that just the name of it?

"Yeah. It was a route very specific to the Saints this week in the red zone. It was perfectly executed, perfect timing, focus, finish on the catch by Vernon. What a great game, I'm so proud of him."

QB Alex Smith

Press Conference - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Alex, what was that like emotionally, that win right now?

"Yeah, it's about as good as it gets. Feels great. There were just so many ups and downs in this game, so many ups and downs. We talked about it. We knew it was going to be like that a little bit. Didn't know it was going to be to that extreme. Kind of the whole day it just seemed like. First quarter, come out we're getting the turnovers, we're scoring. Then lull there in the second quarter, kind of lull there in the third. Then the last five minutes were dramatic enough. So, crazy. I feel so much different than in years past, just the sideline. The sideline atmosphere is so much different. When bad things happen, when plays get made against us, things like that. The guys are just so confident. I think that as long as there's time left, we have a shot."

You felt confident after the Saints TE Jimmy Graham touchdown?

"Well, I knew we had to get a field goal. No, so it wasn't like we had to get the touchdown. I knew a field goal was at potential, absolutely. We've had a great special teams, great kicker. Knew that he's made long ones all year. So, just to give him a shot, that was the goal really. I wasn't afraid to take [RB] Frank [Gore] early. We were getting eight, 10-yard chunks with him. At 1:30, we had one timeout. So, we could do that all day. We could take that down the field. That would have got us in field goal range. Then they jumped into man and as soon as I saw it, I knew [TE] Vernon [Davis] was the guy and he made a great play."

Could you describe that play? The pass to Vernon that won the game.

"That won the game?"

Yeah.

"We clocked. We had the timeout left. So, I think there were like 14 seconds left. Taking a shot there at the end zone. You get it, you score, you win the game potentially, or you get down, you check it down, you call timeout and kick the field goal. I got the window and I cut it loose to him. Vernon made a great play in traffic, getting hit as he catches it. He deserves a lot of credit. He made a great play."

Did you throw that ball especially hard? It seemed from where I was standing that you really threw it hard.

"Yeah, all week we had practiced it. I knew it was going to be a bang-bang play and that you were going to have to get it in there. It wasn't going to be a lob ball."

On your run you huddled with Harbaugh on the sideline before that. Can you just put a taste through that conversation?

"Well, we went from third and I think, two, and we got the penalty. All of a sudden you're at third and seven or eight. So, the play-calling changes. [Offensive Coordinator] Coach [Greg] Roman, as we were kind of talking over there on the sidelines mentioned that one. He and Coach Harbaugh were kind of debating whether or not to do it. I loved it, so I jumped on it."

So, you campaigned for yourself?

"Yeah, I did a little bit. I like the QB run stuff. It adds a little dimension for us. And it was just a great call, great call. I think the coaches deserve a lot of credit there. And then [WR] Kyle [Williams] came down and cracked the end. [T] Joe [Staley] pulling out in front and got the last block on the safety. It made my job pretty easy."

Going around there, did you see a big open space?

"Well no, once I saw the crack, really it was third-and-eight. The first down was what I was going for. Once I saw that and got around the edge, I knew I was going to get the first. It was just a matter of whether or not you get the six. Joe made a great block on the safety."

Alex, you've been doubted for so much of your career. What does this mean to you personally? Especially orchestrating those game-winning touchdowns there at the end?

"We're still playing. That's what it means. It feels great. We've got another week of work and I don't want this to end. I don't think anyone does in that locker room because it's been such a great year. Such a great group of guys, coaches and players. I think we love coming to work every day, I know I do. And we'll get one more week at least. I'm loving it right now."

What were you thinking when you see Vernon get so emotional there after the touchdown? You went over there too?

"Yeah, happy for him. Really happy for Vernon. Even at halftime, got in here at halftime and got a little emotional with us on offense and got after us a little bit. There in the second half, really just stayed patient. Just for Vernon, just to stay patient though. The whole third quarter there was not much happening for us on offense, even in the start of the fourth. And then really three or four times he got one-on-one and he made the play every single time. We got the cover-zero the first drive and I hit him down the sideline. He made a great play on that. Then there on the last drive, he made his plays when he had to with the game on the line. So, I'm really happy for him."

Tell us what was going through your head before you made the greatest touchdown pass of your life?

"I didn't want to force it if it wasn't there, obviously. I knew we were in field goal range. So, it's one thing if you have to have the touchdown, that throw's a lot easier I feel like. If you're down by four, you've got to score. We were in field goal range. So, we had what we had in hand. You don't want to force anything. So, really it was if the window was there, I was going to cut it loose, but if not I didn't want to force that. It's a fine line and Vernon made me right."

How big was that window to Vernon?

"I don't know. I cut it loose early. So, I don't know. I threw it and he made the play."

It seemed like you guys were aggressive throughout. What did that philosophy sort of say about you, just the overall push for the game?

"We had to play that way. Just the style, their whole team. Obviously, the way they play on offense, the way they move the ball. They can kind of score at any second. But the way they play on defense. They're coming every snap potentially. It's a really high risk, high reward, a lot of pressure. The guy nicknamed himself Dr. Heat. So, it's that for a reason. It's coming. And it's like that. It's the name of the game. High risk, high reward. You've just got to be able to make your plays when you get it. They're going to have theirs and they did. They were going to make their plays, but you had to be able to make them pay when you got your chances. And we did. Luckily, they just came there at the very end."

LB NaVorro Bowman

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

You guys had quite the turnover ratio.

We've got a great defense. We feel like we can stop anyone. When it's not working for our offense, it's our job to get the ball back for them as many times as we can. That's all it was. If those guys aren't doing well it's our job to pick it up. That's what a team is and I think we have a great one here."

On TE Vernon Davis.

"A lot of guys have a lot of trouble covering him. That's the guy we go up against every day in practice. We are prepared to go up against any tight end in the league. I'm happy for him. He hasn't been to the playoffs yet since he started in the league and I'm glad to give it to him."

You weren't disappointed were you?

"Not at all. Those guys couldn't wait to play. We knew that being up 13, they have [QB] Drew Brees back there. We just have to keep fighting, stay on edge and fight through adversity."

LB Blake Costanzo

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

How about what [TE] Vernon [Davis] did with those two big catches late in the game [the 37-yard pass late in the fourth quarter and the 14-yard touchdown to win the game]?

"I go against Vernon on the scout team at practice all the time. The guy is unbelievable. He and [QB] Alex [Smith] came through today. Alex Smith led those drives today. I'm so glad for him and Vernon, the guys who've been here a long time. It's a tribute to their success."

What is it about playing in front of this crowd that makes you guys force more turnovers at home?

"It's the crowd. We feed off each other. We have a bunch of guys who care about football and the team. That's all they care about. They don't care about the individual. They care about the team. When you do that, good things happen."

You guys [special teams] didn't get on the field a lot, but can you speak to how you put a charge through the team when you're out there?

"It's a tribute to the guys we've got. We bring so much life to it. Usually, special teams gets overlooked. But guys take it so seriously. We've got so many personalities on offense and defense. We just have it all on this team. We care about each other and it shows on the field."

How about that initial hit [in the first quarter] that [S] Donte [Whitner] had on [Saints RB] Pierre Thomas? When you saw that from the sidelines, what kind of charge did it give you?

"We're a physical team and to see that kind of play, I wouldn't want to step on the field to play against our defense. Like I said, it charged us all up. No one was sitting down the whole game. It was just awesome. I've never been in a kind of game like this before. It's a tribute to the guys we have on this team. It's the guys who make it go."

TE Vernon Davis

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Did you sense that the ball was coming?

"Yes, I knew it was coming, we rehearsed it all week in practice. Alex knew right away that once I got 12, 14 yards, planted the outside foot, and looked for the ball. It was the exact same thing. It worked. I had confidence in myself and Alex. Confidence in the play."

You seemed really emotional after the catch, what was going through your mind?

"History...history was going through my mind. It was us against history. I said to myself, ‘it's us against no and us against can't'. All those things. We managed to pull it off. It was a very emotional game, it was like a roller coaster. Very stressful for me, and as I can imagine, stressful for my teammates. Especially our defense in that last play. I knew right away that I had to step up and be a factor, help out, and I did it."

Coach Harbaugh said that you ran that play on your right all week, but today you ran it on your left. Did it feel any different?

"No, it was just making a play, that's all. To me, when a big-time game is on the line, you have to step up if you are a playmaker. Big-time players make big-time plays and that's all I could think about. I kept telling myself that over, and over and over again, ‘Vernon, you have to step up, the team needs you.'"

What was the message you gave to the team at halftime?

"It was very emotional. One shot, that was the message. We only have one shot and if we don't take advantage of it, we go home. There was a lot of fire within me at that moment. Something just hit me and I had to let it out. When you are a leader on this team, that is what you are supposed to do, step up and lead the team. In times like this, and during that moment. I watched these guys on film and the game before us and they are the real deal. They could come back at any moment and I knew that. I decided to get my teammates going."

Are you dizzy/exhausted from that hit in the end?

"It's not from the hit at the end. It's just from a long game, long and stressful game."

When you knew there was only one shot, what was your confidence level?

"I just kept telling myself, one shot. The team is depending on you. Vernon, the team is calling your name. You have to step up and make the play, you have to take charge, handle the responsibility. It was big. Everyone was counting on me."

You and QB Alex Smith have been through hell. What was that moment like together?

"Along the way there has been a lot of stress, doubt and criticism. Especially for Alex. He has had a lot of criticism in his life. But when I look at that kid, I look at him as a warrior. You can just imagine a little kid standing there and getting picked on in grade school. Getting picked on rocks thrown at him, spit on... it's those types of things that Alex is just one of those guys. Alex has been there, right there. I just wish him all the best. I want to see him successful and have all good things happen to him because he is a warrior."

How long have you dreamed of making a catch like that?

"Since ‘The Catch.'"

Do you see a little of ‘The Catch' in your catch?

"I don't know, I just made the play. Alex made it happen. If it wasn't for Alex I could not have been able to make it happen. Alex, you are the man."

This week there has been a lot of hype around Saints TE Jimmy Graham, did you feel forgotten?

"It's not about me. It's about the team, the team, the team. That is something that Coach Harbaugh always says, the team, the team, the team. I just wait for my opportunities. It's not how you start but how you finish. Jimmy Graham can get all the plays he wants, that's fine. It's not deal or responsibility. I'm not worried about the Pro-Bowl or the individual accolades. I'm here to help this team win, make it to the playoffs, make it to the Super Bowl. That's what it is all about. Everyone is waiting for me to complain this year about the opportunities, but I started telling myself that this game is bigger than you. This here is what matters the most."

You did slam the ball over the crossbar which is Jimmy Graham's signature move.

"I wanted to get a slam dunk. I saw Jimmy do it and I wanted to do it too."

What did Coach Harbaugh say to you at the end of the game?

"I have no idea. Honestly, I have no idea. I will find out in our meetings."

S Dashon Goldson

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

What was the approach you took to this game?

"We knew we had to come here and do the fundamentals, tackling, catching the ball, running the ball, blocking. There was no secret about it. Through the playoffs you see guys lack a lot of those things and as long as we came in here and played solid football we had our chances."

Did you get sick of hearing how good the Saints offense was?

"We got tired of it throughout the week. They gave us no chance. They kept talking about the Saints, the Saints, where they stand against us and what they were going to do. We ignored everything and focused on us and what we had to do to come win this game."

How does it feel to be one game away from the Super Bowl?

"It feels real good. We know that we've still got a lot of work cut out and we'll see how the next game pans out. We're going to get better and come out play another hard-fought football game."

QB Alex Smith has been doubted from time to time here. What was it like to watch him in those last two drives come through when you guys needed him the most?

"It was big time. He came and stepped up for our football team, made plays down the field and he gave a lot of us players on defense a second chance. We fell short on a couple coverages and tackles and it cost us. He came in and we believed in him and he believed in himself and he got it done."

C Jonathan Goodwin

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Are you going to watch the game [Giants vs. Packers] tomorrow and do you have a rooting preference?

"I'm just going to sit back and watch. You don't want to get caught up in rooting for anybody."

It seemed like the Saints were blitzing a lot today.

"They brought some pressure. We had some things that should've been picked up but weren't. But we won the game and that's all that matters. We're going to go back, review and correct those things and look forward to next week."

[T] Joe [Staley] was saying that [QB] Alex [Smith] was keeping everyone composed in the huddle. What was he doing?

"Alex and a couple of the guys were saying to relax and don't make the moment bigger than what it is. Just stay composed because it's still just football. We were able to do that and move down the field two times when we needed it. One thing about this team is in these kinds of situations, we've been composed."

RB Frank Gore

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Not that you guys needed to prove anything, but what did QB Alex Smith show today?

"That he's a ball player. He had a tough time here but I'm just happy for him. He had a great game, a great year. He just keeps balling every day. As long as he keeps doing what he's doing we can as far as we want."

You've been here for a while. What has it been like to see him go through the full circle that he's gone through with this franchise?

"It's great. I'm happy for all his success. He deserves it. He's worked hard. He loves us and we love him."

Have you ever played in a game like this?

"No."

Did you have any nerves coming into this game today?

"No. It's football, it's what we do. It was a playoff game but it's still football."

Talk about TE Vernon Davis and his performance:

"Big-time players make big-time plays when they're supposed to and that's what he did today. He's a big-time player and I expect that from him."

LB Larry Grant

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

How does it feel after that win?

"Feels great."

How much did the two weeks help to be well prepared for this team?

"It definitely helped. Winning that bye-week for any team is always going to be a positive in the end. I'm just glad that it turned out the best way for us today."

How happy are you, for a guy like QB Alex Smith, who usually has dealt with so much criticism?

"Being a San Francisco guy, I've seen the ups and downs in the past with Alex Smith. Not only am I, but the city of San Francisco is proud of what happened. His success is leading us to the next level each week."

CB Carlos Rogers

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

How do you feel after a game like today's?

"I feel real good. It's unbelievable. I haven't seen a game like that in all the years I've played. I never experienced a game like that. Two good teams, two good offenses, two good defenses and we came out on top."

With a team like the Saints, who have QB Drew Brees who can bring a team back in a minute, how do you keep your composure and not get down on yourselves when they make a big play?

"You just do. That's all you can do. You just keep your composure, knowing we've got time left. Nobody expected that. Nobody expected us to win, period. Nobody expected the game to be close. Nobody expected with a minute and 37 seconds left that our offense was going to score. But they did."

What about [S] Donte [Whitner]? He had a bunch of nice hits today.

"Unbelievable playing from beginning to end. He was making big hits and big tackles. We missed some tackles, but we did what we had to do to win."

T Joe Staley

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Where were you lined up when QB Alex Smith ran for that touchdown?

"I was lined up at the left tackle position, my normal spot."

It seemed like they were all lined up on the right. Were you guys expecting that?

"It was a perfect call for the blitz and they blitzed us the whole day. They blitzed us more today than they did in the preseason game. It was a perfect call. We were expecting the blitz, we caught them in something and KW [WR Kyle Williams] made a heck of a block on the edge and all I had to do was cut down the defensive back and Alex just strolled in. It was a heck of a call and Alex made it work."

What does that say for your coaches? A lot of coaches would have said, ‘Play it safe, let's just get the field goal and go for the tie.'

"No, there's nothing safe about this team. Our coaches are very aggressive, they believe in our players and if we see something we're going to call it up. We had a similar call in Philadelphia earlier in the season where it was late in the game and we had to make a big play on third down. We went for the run on the outside, similar to today. What a game. I'm still on cloud nine."

How exciting was it to see Alex come through on those last two drives? A guy that's been doubted from time to time around here and when you really needed him he came through big for you guys:

"He played an amazing game. He saved his best for today and he was on it and never got discouraged. They were blitzing a ton and we had some struggles early with protections, seeing things they didn't do. Alex kept his composure, stayed with the plan and made huge plays down in the fourth quarter. He kept everybody very focused and just played a terrific game. I'm so happy for him. We've got to move on for next and I know he'll deliver next week too."

What was it like on the two plays? When you saw Alex score off that speed option around left end when he took off through the open field, and then on the next drive they come with the all-out blitz and TE Vernon Davis catches the ball and goes downfield. What was it like?

"We called that play in the huddle; basically it was a one-play call. We saw them expecting to blitz off that side when they lined up to the that side and we all got excited because we knew Alex has speed and he can really take it. He made it with the two blocks he needed. Alex came up huge today and Vernon did as well. Vernon had so many catches, so many great plays by him. The whole team, the defense played amazing, special teams played. We never gave up and I'm so happy for these guys. It was such a game."

S Donte Whitner

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

Before the game, did you talk about setting a tone on defense in terms of physical play?

"I told myself that. We always talk about that. But I told myself that I was going to hit anything moving today and that I was going to be extremely physical, even if I hit my own guys. Luckily, I didn't hit too many of my own guys."

What was the reaction to the hits you made out there today [regarding to the opening drive by New Orleans]?

"They were excited. Whenever you can do that, it energizes the football team, especially when you cause a turnover. They [Saints] were driving and in the red zone. To take points off the board, cause a momentum swing, get the crowd in the game and get a turnover. It's just three, four things in one. We're the type of defense that will be impressed, but we'll look at the mistakes we made. Whoever we'll face next week, they'll know the errors we made. We'll have to be on our best Ps and Qs. We'll be prepared. We're one win away from the Super Bowl. We're in a place where no one predicted us to be at the beginning of the season."

Most people thought that the defense would win the game, but in the end, [QB] Alex [Smith] and the offense were asked to win it and did. What do you think it says about this team and the balance?

"On defense, we kept us in it. It's only fitting that Alex came out and did what he did. He's had so many people on his back, so many naysayers. Your hat has to go off to him for staying mentally strong for seven years. The coaching staff had the confidence in Alex to not just sit on the football, take a field goal and go into overtime, but to throw the football with the possibility of it being intercepted or knocked around. It's a testament to Alex who's led us all year long. He's a mentally strong guy. He really wants to win for himself and for his teammates."

WR Kyle Williams

Post-Game Quotes - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints vs. New Orleans Saints

You guys went for the touchdown instead of the field goal?

"We just wanted to get in the position to extend the game. If we can make a play, we'll make the play. Once we got down, you could tell by the coach's intent, by the play call, that they were trying to score and they weren't trying to settle to go into overtime.

Did everyone just about play well today?

"It's a credit to everybody who is wearing red and gold. It's a credit to everybody since everybody stepped up."

How did you guys figure out a way to turn this around?

"We knew what we had to do and we just did it. We worked so well together as a team."

LB Patrick Willis

Press Conference - January 14, 2012

San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints

What were the emotions you were feeling out there?

"I don't want to make this about me. We won and it was a great team win. I was hurting, I was down because I know that my teammates always count on me to be the defensive player that I am and he made a good catch at the end. I was feeling low, I'm not going to lie. But that's one thing I love about my teammates is that regardless of how you're feeling, they always find a way to pull you back up. Just to have this ‘W', to go on and play another week, to have a chance of redeeming myself feels great."

For the offense to put up two in the end zone at the end, how big was that?

"It's big. It just shows that we have a complete team across the board in all three phases. I said early in the week that it was going to take all three phases to win this game. Defense came out in the first half great, played well. We came back on in the third quarter and we played well. We fight. The special teams played great all night. It was a phenomenal win."

[QB] Alex [Smith] has been second-guessed or criticized his entire career. What does this win say about Alex?

"It just shows he has the will to never quit. With some of the things that have been said about him, to see him this year sticking with it when most would have given up and gone somewhere else, he stayed. I thank God he did. I'm happy he's our quarterback going forward for us."

Was there a point before the final touchdown that you felt the offense might have gotten you off the hook?

"One thing about the team all year long is we don't quit. We're not afraid of any situation. Regardless of how bad it looks, or how crazy it looks, we still believe that we have a chance to win. They just showed again tonight what our team has been about all year long. When all odds are against us, we find a way and we did that tonight when it counted most."

Can you describe the atmosphere in the stadium?

"Man, it was loud. It's the loudest I've ever heard our stadium. I'm thankful for the fans that came out on our behalf. All the fans that were there turned on a great ball game. Hopefully we get to come back here again, but if not, I thank all of the fans out there tonight cheering the way they did."

On the touchdown pass that [TE] Vernon [Davis] had, did he run that against you on the practice field?

"Not really. Vernon had a great week of practice and he just showed the All-Pro tight end that he is. I don't know, I just remember telling him on the sideline how proud I was and how much I love him for just pulling out what he did not only for this team, but me as an individual. I don't know how I would have taken this game if we didn't get another way to win. I'm just thankful that we have a chance."

You did a great job on [RB] Darren Sproles most of the day, and then he gets away for one. Were you frustrated to let him get away for one?

"It's just one of those things that you have to play for 60 minutes against him or however many snaps you get on defense, you have to play hard for all of those snaps. My guys did. He's a playmaker and he's a football player as well. He made a play against our defense and that's what it was. What mattered most was we get to go and play another game. That's all that matters."

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