SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 20-3. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
In the coming 2012 season, I think it's safe to say that the 49ers are going to be an exciting team to watch. They are a young, balanced, talented and very well-coached team on the rise. San Francisco's veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith spoke to the media about the organization, himself, and the upcoming season in a 7-minute presser available on 49ers.com.
For one of the league's most dominant players, Smith is incredibly humble, complementing his extreme focus. "We should just be that much farther ahead. Still, it's not cumulative, you've got to start all the way back over and do it from game one," said Smith, demonstrating his understanding of how to harness and retain last year's success.
Also, the runner-up for Defensive MVP is not only the oldest player on the 49ers defense, but the 4th oldest on the entire team at 32-years. "I'm figuring, ‘let's go.' Time is of the essence for me, personally. Not everybody else, we have a young defense. I think everyone feels the urgency and we've got the guys right now and let's not wait," Smith commented.
Even though Smith is already very driven, the window of time he spoke about should provide some extra fuel for the fire inside him. He seems to be in a by-any-means-necessary frame of mind with his approach to this season; and that will be his approach to the next two or three seasons until he decides what he wants to do. Right now, Smith believes the 49ers are more than capable of "hammering this thing home."
A team leader, Smith has belief in the organization and the roster they've assembled. He knows this is a very large group of high-character guys with more than enough talent to get it done on the football field.
On the locker room:
"This is a unique locker room. You don't really have the gigantic egos. Some of the best players in there are most down to earth guys, solid guys, just trying to play football. Randy had all these, ‘what's he like'-he's been one of the coolest guys, one of the hardest working guys I've ever met. And media-wise, that wasn't the perception that he had. It just goes to show the type of guys they're bringing in and the locker room that's in there."
It also goes to show that the blue-collar mentality is here to stay, whether or not the 49ers are favored for the Super Bowl. The Niners are going to put in the same work - if not more - and do their best to make sure they get a title while Smith is still around. Smith gave his thoughts when asked about being a threat to win the Lombardi Trophy.
On being a Super Bowl contender:
"Yeah, that's our goal. 31 other teams have that goal, if they necessarily believe it or not. I've said that before offseasons, but-- (jokingly). But that's our goal and that's our mindset and that's what we want to accomplish. Like I said, they're not just going to give us a W for walking out there; we're going to get everyone's best game this year and we're going to have to play even better than we played last year in order to have the same success. And we know that and we're prepared to go out there and try to do that."
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