The 49ers arrived in New Orleans Sunday evening, and right off the bat they had media obligations. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and several players addressed the media. An assortment of players and coaches will be meeting with the media all week long, and the NFL will be providing transcripts of their sessions. We'll pull out particular pertinent quotations along the way, but every day I'll make sure and post the full transcripts the NFL sends along. NFL Network will be airing most if not all of these press conferences, but if you don't get NFLN, or you just happen to miss it, we'll be here for you!
HEAD COACH JIM HARBAUGH
(on the benefits of having Colin Kaepernick making his first road start in the Superdome) "What are the benefits? He's played in this stadium, just as all our team has. I don't know how much of an advantage that is. I can't really put an advantage quota on it."
(on if he tried to keep the routine normal this week before coming to New Orleans) "Not to go into the plan of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to accomplish, we got a good idea. It's what we've done and it's been successful so far. Our team has been really focused on winning, focused on the unity of the team. I think it's really genuine. I think it's the best focus on unity and winning that I've ever seen or been a part of. This week, we tried to make it like a normal week, being here on Sunday, in the city starting Monday like it's a week leading up to a Sunday game is our plan."
(on playing for Coach George Seifert and what he learned) "Quite a bit. It was a real pleasure to work with George Seifert, to get a chance to know him. I didn't get on the field that year. One of the great things was being able to meet Greg Roman, who was an assistant offensive line coach at the time. I was just so impressed with his knowledge of football and the kind of guy he was. We struck up a very good friendship within the first couple weeks I was there. I made friends right off the bat. Later, getting a chance to work with him was a real great thing for us."
(on if he has spoken to any other Super Bowl coaches to get any insight on how to prepare for Super Bowl week and what the special challenges are being a first time Super Bowl coach) "No real in depth types of things. I had a short conversation with Bill Cowher when he was out interviewing some of our players. I was on a radio show the other day and John Madden was on as well-a couple short comments as well. (The challenge is) that you haven't done it before. Its uncharted waters for a rookie Super Bowl coach, but that's exciting too. We have a great thrill and great desire to be in uncharted waters. Our coaches and our players have always relished that and strived in that type of environment."
(on coaching a franchise that has never lost a Super Bowl and his plans for working with the team this week) "There is a great 49er history with our team and we're proud of that. As far as working during the week, meetings, practices and that will be our focus each day. There will be weight lifting involved tomorrow and meetings and practices."
(on Bill Walsh dressing up as a bell man before his first Super Bowl and if he sees any need to add some levity for his players and if they need anything to ease the pressure) "Dashon Goldson had a quote on our quote board about two and a half weeks ago that ‘We get fresher under pressure.' That bodes well for us."
(on what he recalls about the 49ers and their dominance in the 80s) "What I remember, I played against some of those teams. As you described, dominant. The organization has a tremendous history and we're very proud of it. This is new business and our team is focused on winning a championship."
(on how much of himself does he see in Colin Kaepernick in terms of his attitude and passion for the game) "I shared this with some of our beat writers a week and a half ago, but it's true. It's a true story. When Colin is running and the stride that he has, the gracefulness with his stride, the ground that he covers, how fast and quick he is reminds me of myself. Then I wake up. But when I dream and have visions of how I run personally, it's the way Colin runs."
(on how important Trent Baalke has been to the makeup of the team) "Very important. A key integral member. It's a team effort. We've always said that. Everyone does a little and it adds up to be a lot. That's been our approach."
(on if he has been to a Super Bowl before and if so, what was his experience like) "Yes, I have attended Super Bowls in the past. For example, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers two years ago. I was at this Super Bowl in New Orleans when San Francisco played Denver and there might have been one other one along the way. There might have been a couple other ones."
(on him being a gutsy quarterback when he played in the NFL) "Can you spread the word on that a little? Can you get that out? Try not to keep that to yourself. I appreciate it."
(on whether he ever second-guessed himself after replacing Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick) "Alex had played a lot more than two good games. He had played 26, 28 really good games. I thought it was a unique situation. Viewed it that way when it happened. My experience had always been that when it comes to playing the best quarterback, or playing the quarterback with the hot hand, it was choosing between two guys that were struggling, at least in my own personal experience. That was far from the case that we were looking at at the time. Two quarterbacks that were playing extremely well. Made the decision that we thought was best for our team."
(on whether he will allow Colin Kaepernick to make his own reads or if he will develop specific plays for him and the running game) "First of all, I wouldn't categorize Colin as a read-option quarterback, for starters. Then, to answer your question, all of those things would be possibilities. We'd love for our opponent to consider them all. Colin is extremely talented at the read-option, he's extremely talented throwing the football as well. There are a lot of options we could go."
(on whether he considers this week as a distraction to the players) "I think it's a good thing that we've done this, really the last two years. We've stayed in a hotel, had our meetings in a hotel and then go to a facility to practice and get ready for the game. Same approach as always, really. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the preparation. I think that's what our team enjoys the most, the practice, the meetings and especially the competition. Gearing up for the competitive nature of a football game, a championship game. Very excited about it."
(on what led him to decide to stick with most of the players that were there when he was named head coach) "Just watching the tape. One conversation at a time with the players, getting to know them. We realized that we had a lot of character and we had a lot of talent."
(on whether he had talked to his brother about one day meeting in the Super Bowl) "No, not as kids. At Gettysburg, our conversations about facing each other were the November 25th game that we knew was on the schedule, the Thanksgiving game."
(on how much credit he gives Colin Kaepernick for being the difference maker) "It's been a team effort. Feel like there's a lot of people that have a lot of fingerprints on this team's success. Like I said, the team has been focused on the unity of the team and on winning better than any team I've ever seen or been around. Really credit that to the men in the locker room. They enjoy each other's company. They like being around each other and they like competing. They hold themselves to a high standard in terms of that. Colin's play has been outstanding. He deserves tremendous amount of credit for that. He, like the rest of the guys on the team, are focused on the opportunity to play and win a championship."
(on whether he scheduled all the way up to the Super Bowl when planning in the offseason) "You definitely have a plan. You also have a feel, as well. Really, both of those things were at work."
(on what Patrick Willis has meant to the team) "So much, Patrick Willis means to our team. He's part of the fabric of the character of the defense and of the team. Very humble person. There are two kinds of people: the people that get the job done, and the people that want to take credit for getting the job done. It's far less competitive in the second case. Patrick Willis is certainly a get-the-job-done type of guy. That just influences, and the rest of the team feed off of that."
(on why he decided not to play it safe and start Colin Kaepernick) "I described it in my own personality, we did what we thought was best for the team. We did what we thought would give us the best chance to win games. That's my personality."
DEFENSIVE TACKLE JUSTIN SMITH
(on how he tries to keep this week as normal as possible) "I think you just get done with today, tomorrow, media day stuff, I think it will be pretty much a regular work week where we do what we normally do on the road. We already did it once with Youngstown, so I don't think it will be that much different."
(on this week consisting of more football because you're not going home at night) "Yeah, I think so. On the floor up there we have all the film rooms and everything right up there, easy access. I kind of like being on the road for games like these. Youngtown, that seemed to treat us well for two years in a row, so we are pretty much treating that week like this one."
(on him and Aldon Smith being from Kansas City) "Two guys from the same school, but we're all playing for San Francisco now. I think that's pretty cool. It's definitely cool with Aldon coming from Missouri and playing from the University of Missouri."
(on his relationship with Aldon Smith) "We just get along well. We work well together. He's a cool, easy-going guy. He works hard, plays hard, and that's all you really have to have in a good teammate. He does all that."
(on Aldon Smith's NFL career) "Yeah, he's setting records left and right, so I think anytime anybody does that it's surprising. Just his transition into the NFL and how easy he's made it look, that's what the great ones do - they make it look easy."
(on what playing in the Super Bowl means to him) "I really don't look at my career as a legacy or anything like that. I'm not one of those guys that look at that. I'm looking forward to this week and this opportunity to be with the guys. I think if anything, the opportunity to come down here and win it just makes that team get together once a year or something when you're done playing. That would be cool, a Super Bowl reunion. I think that would be cool as far as cementing that group with a Super Bowl run."
(on this being the most talented roster he's been a part of) "It's ridiculous. You look around our locker room, and from head to toe, the offensive line, receivers, DBs, defensive line. It's just the main reason we're here. The talent level, what the coaches have been able to get out of us, it just all has come together. This roster is loaded."
(on if he knew there were 15 first-round picks on the roster) "I don't think I have ever done the breakdown, but there are a bunch of first rounders. I think just on the O-line there are three or four first rounders. That doesn't happen very often. I think it's a big reason why we are where we're at."
(on the coaching camaraderie) "I think you have to have the right ingredients to have the right meal. You have to have the chef and you have to have the right ingredients. I think how (general manager) Trent (Baalke) and (Head Coach) Jim (Harbaugh) work together - Jim and his staff - as far as getting the amount out of us that he has and the formations and all the stuff he uses has really helped us and taken us over that hump. Two years in a row now we've had a lot of success."
(on a common thread between Jim Harbaugh-coached players) "No, I think this motivation deal gets over blown. I think this is about situations and being in the best situations and X's and O's as much as just motivating people. I think everybody in that locker room is highly motivated. You can have a pretty dry professor out there, and you could still go out and play hard. What he is, is a smart football guy. He knows scheme. He knows how to take advantage of scheme, how to be deceptive in his scheme, so that's what he brings to the table."
(on the emotion coming to New Orleans) "So far it's felt like our London trip honestly apart from seeing the Super Bowl stuff and the signs. I'm trying not to watch TV, any sports channels. I'm trying to make it as even keeled as possible. I'll look back on it all later when it's all done."
(on both San Francisco and Baltimore losing a conference title and then playing each other the following year) "I think last year, just speaking for myself, is just like, ‘Damn we got so close.' I've never been that close in my life. You don't think it's over or your window is closed or anything like that just personally speaking, and you feel it kind of shutting. I was just like, ‘Damn, that was it.' To be back in the NFC Championship game, I don't think our team took it as much for granted how hard it is to get there. Getting to the Super Bowl, now especially, you have to take advantage of it."
(on losing the NFC Championship game last year) "Yeah, it's kind of like someone is pulling the rug out from underneath you. You're like, ‘We were so close.' We came up short, and we're back here. We just have to go take care of business now."
(on growing up on a cattle ranch molding him into who he is) "I don't know because you only have your childhood. That's all I knew. I don't know how it would be to grow up any other way honestly."
(on owning a ranch someday so his kids can grow up the way he did) "Yeah, I want to make them as miserable as I was. I want them to go to college and not want to come back."
(on the extra week helping his arm to heal) "I think it's getting better every week. I can do more stuff every week. It heals up the more time goes by. It's feeling better. I'm getting used to wearing the brace a little bit better. I know how many more games I have left now, so it's just four more quarters."
(on lifting weights) "It's just modified. I can't do as much or some of the stuff I usually do like bench pressing, so there is other stuff. You just can't do it in that range for that injury."
(on his injury) "I've never really been injured before. I usually give guys a hard time in the training room, and now I'm one of those guys. So, a little karma came back to get me I guess."
(on if his injury changed his fundamentals) "To a certain extent. You try to do as much as you can in the way you're shedding blocks and stuff like that. There is a limited range in motion for sure."
(on when he got hurt and if he thought he may be out for a while) "Yeah sure. The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘What the hell did I do?' Number one because I have never felt a pop like that before. It's just once you talk to the doctors and stuff like that, they were pretty confident that if it progressed right that I'd be ready to play. It worked out that way, so you just keep going as long as you can."
(on stopping Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco) "I think the main thing is stop the run, keep the safties deep, try not to get them involved in the run game as little as possible, so (Baltimore wide receiver Torrey) Smith doesn't run through our backfield, our d-backs. That's pretty much the M.O. (main objective), run, run, chuck it over your head. The reason they can do that is because they can run the ball successfully on people. So, that's going to be one of our keys."
(on if is injury has affected the pass rush of the team) "That's just a straight statistic, but what you don't always see is teams play us a little bit differently. Quarterbacks drift on us a little bit more, and we've been playing some really good quarterbacks in (Matt) Ryan and (Aaron) Rodgers. They're timing guys. They're getting rid of the ball quick. They do their job really well as well, so it makes our job a little bit tougher."
(on Aldon Smith's lack of sacks in the last few games) "Aldon, just in this last game, he was getting lots of pressure. They know when you're playing a guy like that, he's going to get more attention, more chipping, he's going to bring the line over there a little more. What the quarterback knows too is that you have to get rid of the ball. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't have a clock that goes off when you're practicing against a guy like Aldon. The ball has to come out in three seconds."
LEFT TACKLE JOE STALEY
(on the 49ers' team history and being reminded of it) "You walk through the facility and all the past Lombardi trophies we have won. They are proudly displayed. It is a great tradition there. You are reminded of that with the fan base as well. The 80's-a lot of the people you meet in the community say that they became fans of the 49ers in the 80's when they were young. Right now we are trying to establish our own identity. You do not want to live in the past and we are trying to create our own tradition and things that everybody can be excited about."
(on the quarterback switch and if he had loyalties to QB Alex Smith) "It was one of those things where I am obviously very, very close to Alex (Smith). He is one of my best friends. I felt for the situation that he was going through. It was hard for him. As a team member and a member of this team that we are all part of, whatever Coach Harbaugh decides we went with. (Smith) knew how I felt as far as a friend-being there for him and supporting him. It was also one of those things where if Coach Harbaugh feels it is the best way and this is the direction we are going then I am all for it. I think one of the things we have in this football team is we have a lot of trust in the coaching staff to make the great decisions. That is what they worry about, all that kind of stuff. We just go out there and play football."
(on if QB Colin Kaepernick had to win the team over) "Anybody that is out there on the football field you want to see them produce and get results. With Colin (Kaepernick) his first couple of starts, you did not know what to expect because we had not seen him out there as a starting quarterback. He did amazing and he has all season as well as the playoffs. I think it was one of those things where we saw him in practice and we just wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation in the games. He has done that."
(on the team buying into Coach Harbaugh last season) "I went to his press conference when he was introduced as the head coach and I could just feel the energy and the passion he had for coaching football. Then when we hit the meeting room for OTAs, actually we did not have OTAs that year since it was the lockout year. When we were at training camp, it was all business all the time when we got into the football facility. I think the energy he brings-all of that stuff rubbed off on us pretty early. Then you get around his coaching staff and his people that he brought in-our offensive coordinator Greg Roman is one of the best I have ever been around. I have heard that from a lot of the different people he has been affiliated with throughout his career. Just really, really bright minds. Coaches that really, really enjoy coaching and bringing passion to the workplace every day."
(on keeping the core group of guys together) "I think we were just all hungry for change. Myself, I went through four losing seasons. I had never seen any success. Seeing all the hard work and talent we had in the locker room, we were all just hungry for a change. I think (Coach Harbaugh) came in and really set the mindset of once we step in this building it is all about business and all about football. We are not going to mess around with any kind of other things that do not get us better. We all bought into that pretty quickly. Just the hard work."
(on the top highlights of the plane trip to New Orleans) "We had this huge plane. It was the bed seats. That was probably number one. Number two, I got to watch How to Make It In America. It was a canceled show on HBO, which I really, really enjoy. Number three, probably the 10-minute nap I took. It was pretty fantastic."
(on the pistol offense and if it is different) "It is different in the sense of it is not traditional. Come downhill. It is a lot of different parts that are going on with it. It puts a lot of pressure on everybody to be on point and know exactly what we are doing. Everybody on the football field really has to be dialed in. I think in that aspect (it is different). We do not just run the pistol offense. We do a lot of different things. We do a lot of different things well so it is really hard to prepare for our offense because of that fact."
(on Coach Harbaugh being fueled by negative criticism) "(Coach Harbaugh) does not bring that up or address really anything that is going on outside our football room. It is all about what I was talking about earlier, getting in that building and to our meetings or film study. All of that stuff that goes into what we can control for that day. He does not really pay attention to any criticism that we have."
(on Colin Kaepernick's performance in the NFC Championship showing that this stage will not be too big for him) "I do not think that was the moment that opened my eyes. We have seen that throughout the second half of the season when he has been out on the football field. He has proven he is a very, very capable quarterback and does amazing things out there on the football field. No moment is too big. I think his first start in the NFL, Monday Night Football, to come out and play the way he did-that right there shows you the kind of guts that guy has. It seems like every single situation you put him up with it is like ‘Well let's see how he responds to this one.' Colin answers the bell and does amazing. It was not like ‘Oh my gosh, I cannot believe we came back.' It was what we expected and what we had seen the whole entire season from him."
(on what he saw from Colin Kaepernick and the team when they were down in NFC Championship) "Our whole entire football team, there was nobody panicking. We were really focused in that game. Really we had a lot of confidence that we were going to be able to get things going. That drive that we had down 17-nothing, getting those seven points really put us in a position to come back and make that a ball game."
(on having already played in the Superdome and how important that could be for Colin Kaepernick) "I think he is familiar with the surroundings and especially playing in a dome, I hear a lot of quarterbacks and receivers talk about a lot of domes are different as far as the lighting. No dome is the same. I think it was big. We will see how much of an importance that plays. You always want to be near some level of comfort there. Knowing you played there and had success there. You did all that. When it comes down to it, it is a football game. The same field and all of that stuff."
(on if the Superdome being the site of the Super Bowl being mentioned before their game against the New Orleans Saints) "We kind of said after we would like to be back there and this is our goal to be back here at the end of the season. It was not a rallying cry or anything. Still a lot of the season left to play."
(on keeping a practice schedule) "I think it is a little bit different-just the circumstances and all of this. I do not do this too often on a Sunday night. As far as the scheduling and it is what you do during the week. We talk about just keep it and do not change anything. Do not go outside yourself and do something that you have not done all season. Try to treat this week as normal as you can. I think that will go a long way as far as calming any nerves or anxiety you have."
(on the offensive line having played better this year than last) "I think we are playing better. I think a lot of the guys have been playing together longer. This is my third year playing next to Mike (Iupati). Anthony (Davis) is in his third year. The other piece that we inserted was Alex (Boone) from last year's line. He has done a terrific job. Being more familiar with the offense, the coaching staff-all that continuity and all of that chemistry that you build over a couple of years goes a long way on the offensive line just because we have to play together a lot of time. I think we are hitting our stride right now. We are peaking at the right moment."
(on his favorite Coach Harbaugh antidote and if he uses a lot of quotes with the team) "Yeah he does. We did a quote board this year where we did a different player from the team. Kind of went with a quote and wrote it up on this dry erase board. That is something he does all the time. What you see with Coach Harbaugh is exactly how he is with us. Probably not as candid with us as he is with you guys. I think one of the things that is a funny story with him is the first time I met him was when I went to the press conference when he was introduced in San Francisco. I was the only player that went and I walk into the room and introduce myself. He comes down and just starts punching my gut. Starts telling my about I need to do more sit ups or something like that. Just kind of the personality he is."
(on the team's hotel being so close to Bourbon Street and avoiding those temptations) "We addressed it but did not make a big deal about it because we know the players that we have on this football team. Like I was saying earlier, all of the high character guys. We know that we are not down here to have a good time. We are down here for a business trip and to compete for the Lombardi trophy. We are going to do all we can to prepare and make sure no turn is unturned. I do not think that is going to be an issue with our football team."
(on the 49ers having so many first round picks on the roster) "You want talented players. Cannot have a bunch of great guys who stink at football and win games. Obviously have to have a lot of talented players. You have to have the right kind of talented players. You look for that combination and we found a great combo with a lot of the players. I think sometimes you want to have some characters. I think it keeps it interesting. We have players like Justin Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon (Davis), Patrick (Willis) and myself. Older, veteran leaders that really speak up and make sure there is no issues."
(on adding players through free agency) "Yeah, definitely. You look at the people we brought through the draft when we built through the draft, but also free agent players that we have brought in, it is exciting to see that everybody is excited to come to San Francisco and be a part of what we are doing here. Hopefully we will continue with that."
(on Coach Harbaugh facing his brother) "I think it is pretty sweet. I think if I had a brother I think it would be pretty awesome to compete against him at the highest level. What better stage than at the Super Bowl to do that. It is awesome for their family. The focus is not on ‘I have to beat my brother in this Super Bowl.' We have to win this Super Bowl for the city of San Francisco, this franchise and this organization."
(on facing LB Ray Lewis in his final game) "I played against him one time last year when we played them and (Ray Lewis) was hurt. My rookie year I played against him. I remember blocking him one play and I had a block where I was like ‘Holy crap, it is Ray Lewis. I just blocked Ray Lewis.' He is a player that is obviously on top of his game and one of the best to ever play this position. He brings a ton to that franchise and that team. He is the heart of that team. It is going to be great to compete against him for the trophy."
(on seeing an oversized picture of Colin Kaepernick pulling up in the garage of the hotel) "I did not get to go to the garage, but I am sure it is awesome. Real good looking face."
(on Coach Harbaugh keeping everyone level and how he does not let the team get to high) "Nothing ever changes. It is the same. He is very, very consistent as far as from day one when he got here to now. He is not different as far as his approach and the focus, attention and detail-all those things that we talk about. He is very consistent and I really appreciate that as a player. Not ease off the pedal."
SAFETY DASHON GOLDSON
(on when he knew things were turning around for the better) "As far as getting to this point, I didn't know that things would get this good, but when I signed back during training camp and came back from being on the street for a little bit, training camp started a little late and the energy level was a little different and the philosophy was a little different. The energy in the guys was a little different than in years before."
(on how the philosophy was different) "It was just how we approached things as far as practice and how we are going to approach the football field every day. It was just a different energy."
(on the phrase that he ‘gets fresher under pressure') "It just means that through all of the circumstances, and all of the stuff that we face, there is a lot of pressure throughout the season. A lot of people picked other teams to win the games and we happen to come out on top. They try to put a lot on us and I felt that we overcame a lot this season. I kind of got it from one of my buddies back in college."
(on if he is concerned about the pressure of this big stage) "Not at all. It comes with the territory. I'm sure a lot of people face this, but it's new to a lot of players, especially me. I am just looking forward to this football game and wining."
(on if they were feeling the pressure against the Falcons down 17 points) "To be honest with you, we were down and we understood that. As far as feeling any pressure, the energy and the belief were still there when we talked, especially when we went in at halftime and it wasn't like a lot of people were panicking. We just had to polish up some things that we needed to get tightened up and we came out and shut them down in the second half."
(on if the flight here was like any other or different) "It was a little different. We were on a 747 so it was a little different."
(on when they started talking about making it to the Super Bowl) "When we had that bye week, we were still approaching it one game at a time, but we got that win against Green Bay and then we had a tough challenge against the Atlanta Falcons. That's when everyone felt that if we can get past this one then we can get there. If we do what we have to do then we can get to the Super Bowl. This team never looked past anybody for the most part. We were always one game at a time."
(on if they approach this week like the week they take at Youngstown the last two years) "Most definitely. We have to. We will be out here for a week, so we will approach it that way. Get accustomed to where we are at and our environment and practice in a different facility. We will just have to adapt. We have been in this situation before so it's a little comfortable."
(on if they can focus more on football because they are around teammates 24 hours each day) "I'm sure Coach (Jim) Harbaugh will make sure that we stay on task. The only thing that will be different is the media. There are a lot of things going on around here, but it will be strictly football."
(on what stands out when watching the Ravens) "The team is a pretty good football team. They are a physical team that reminds me of ourselves a little bit. They do a good job of running the football and setting up the pass. Their quarterback has a strong arm. You can't allow those guys behind us. They have a good deep threat with those receivers, so there are defiantly a lot of things to get done."
(on what Randy Moss has taught him and the secondary) "Just his work ethic. This is a guy that has been in the league for so long and yet he still he is still out here competing at the highest level. He will take some of the guys like myself and T-Brown (Tarell Brown) and some of the guys will work with him on releases. Not because he has to, but because he wants to. He wants to help us out in the secondary and he wants to do a good job. He is good at picking up things on the sideline on gamedays. He will see something out there and he will come to our bench and let us know that this is what's happening or this is what they are doing. It's good to head from a guy like that. He has been in the league for a while and played wide receiver position so he knows lots of ins and outs.
(on describing this secondary) "There is a lot of want to. Guys want to make plays, we want to make our tackles, we want to win, and we want to compete. There is a lot of want to in our secondary."
(on the defense not playing as well down the stretch) "I think we played well. I just think some teams that faced us did a good job of some things and it cost us a little bit. Overall I think we played well as a defense and as a secondary."
(on if he recalls the dominant teams of San Francisco 49ers in the 80's and 90's) "Just little snippets of it. I wasn't really in tune when they were out there killing people, but I definitely know about Ricky Watters out there and Garrison Hearst. I know a couple of snippets but not so much."
(on if it is surprising that it has taken 18 years for the 49ers to get back to the Super Bowl) "I haven't ever looked at it like that to be honest with you. It's good and I am glad to be a part of the team that brings it back after 18 years. I think that says a lot."
(on if he is the hardest hitting safety in the league and how it feels to hit hard) "So they say... It feels good to hit but it feels better when they get back up because I'm never trying to kill nobody. At the same time I definitely want to make my presence felt."
(on how Coach Harbaugh coaches when things are going well and how he motivates players) "He gives credit where credit is due. He does a good job with motivation and keeping guys up and all of that. He doesn't get down on players or anything like that ... Just be showing us that you gain confidence by previous success. He brings up things when we watch highlights or just complementing on your game and things like that."
(on where the Ravens' offense has made the biggest strides this year and Joe Flacco) "He has done a good job for their football team. I know there was a lot of talks and a lot of criticism about him, but I have always thought he was a good quarterback personally. He does a good job of getting the chains moving, getting first downs, and extending plays. I was watching film earlier today on the plane and I saw him make a play with the running back. It was like a screen play and the running back had a defender on him but he slipped through and he threw it back. He extends plays and does a good job of that. He is definitely a good football player."
(on what he has been to expect about this week) "I really didn't ask anybody too much about what to expect. I kind of wanted to experience it for myself. I know we have a couple of guys who have been in this situation with Jonathon Goodwin and Randy Moss, but I wanted to kind of take it upon myself to experience it."
(on if the Youngstown trip helps) "I definitely think it helps. We have been away from home for a while before and I think this will be a challenge but at the same time I think we understand how to control it."
(on his memories of Ray Lewis growing up) "Just the excitement that he brought to the game and his energy is unbelievable. He is one of the icons and he is going to be a legend of this game. I can't express the amount of impact that he has made on a lot of guys just as a football player. I haven't met him off the field, but by watching him I can tell that his energy and his will to win is tremendous."
(on Patrick Willis' influence on him) "Just watching his work ethic coming in, we both came in together but his work ethic is unbelievable as a young guy. That's why he made six straight Pro Bowls. There is no mistake about that. It's no secret why he has gotten to that point. I see him work every day since I have been in the league. The way he comes in early in the morning, before anybody gets there, he is working out. He practices like he is playing in a football game, his communication and his leadership and all of the above.
QUARTERBACK COLIN KAEPERNICK
(on the Ravens defensive line) "They are very physical, very big and take up a lot of space."
(on if playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome earlier this year was beneficial in getting ready for the Super Bowl) "It is always good to be familiar with where you are playing. How beneficial is Sunday? It's just being familiar with it, but you still have to go out and play."
(on how playoff pressure is different from regular-season pressure) "I've said this before. Pressure, I feel like, comes from lack of preparation. This isn't going to be a pressure situation, it is going to be a matter of going out there and performing physically."
(on his routine during Super Bowl week) "The same routine we had when we were back in San Francisco."
(on the difference of regular-season flights and this one to Super Bowl) "Just a bigger plane."
(on the best advice Randy Moss has given him during the season) "Just go out and play like yourself. Randy has been in my ear about going out and playing like myself and making sure I am relaxed out there."
(on if the possibility that the Super Bowl might be Moss' last game is being overlooked) "Yeah. Randy is going to be a Hall-of-Fame player, and he is someone who deserves a Super Bowl ring. We want to send him out the right way."
(on if the 49ers were told to ‘take it all in' during their previous trip to New Orleans) "No one said anything about that. We were focused on that time at that moment."
(on 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh facing his brother, John, in the Super Bowl) "That is a great thing for their family. I think it's the first time in history, so that is something special for them."
(on if he imagined himself starting at the Super Bowl at the start of the season) "At the start of the season, I was just hoping to get on the field some way, somehow."
(on his progression to the starting job at quarterback) "When I first started starting, I was just trying to do well and make sure we were winning games. Things have gone right while we have been playing. We're here."
(on maintaining positive attitude when he was not playing) "That is just being focused on what you are trying to achieve. My dad was always in my ear, saying ‘Stay focused, and keep working hard.' That is what I try to do."
(on his relationship with Alex Smith before and after he became a starter) "It is the same. We are both trying to help this team get better and be the best team we can be. Anything we can do to make this team better, and help us win this game, we are going to do."
(on when Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke came to see him at Nevada, and the throwing contest between him and Harbaugh) "We had a few competitions, different drills and different accuracy things. Just head up and see who could compete and win. We had different goal-post throws, who could throw a better spiral, things like that. I let him win the first one, and I won the rest."
(on how beneficial it is to have a head coach who was a NFL quarterback) "It is very beneficial. He knows what you are looking at, and he knows what you are going through. It makes it easier for him to relate."
(on how he would describe the locker room right now) "It is really like a family. We are around each other more than we are around anybody else. The time we spend together, and the hard work we put in together, it is going to build a close team."
(on what his greatest Super Bowl memory as a fan was) "I don't know. I can't pick one out. I just remember growing up watching the Super Bowl and being a big fan of it."
(on who was his favorite quarterback) "I was always a (Brett) Favre fan. I was born in Wisconsin, and my whole family was Packers fans, so I grew up watching him."
(on his preparation for the Super Bowl) "It is just head-down, keep working. This isn't a time to relax and get out of your routine or stop working hard. This is when you should be working your hardest."
(on how much he sees of himself in head coach Jim Harbaugh) "I think both of us are very competitive. We want to do whatever it takes to win, so that is where the emotion and the excitement comes from."
(on if too much is made of the quarterback play in the pistol and read-option) "I think people have put too much focus on me. I don't think they realize the other weapons we have on this team. I don't think they realize the great offensive line that we have. There are a lot of other parts on this team that do great things to make it easy for me to go out there."
(on what he remembers about Ray Lewis as a player and person) "I have never met him, but his intensity that he brings to the game and the passion that he plays with is very admirable."
(on why he liked Brett Favre growing up) "The passion he played with. He went out there and played like a kid. He was never afraid to take a chance making a throw. He was going to lay it on the line."
(on risk-taking as a quarterback like Favre did) "I think it is being smart and taking calculated risks. You don't want to just be throwing balls up, but there are also times where you have to take chances."
(on what his biggest adjustment was during his rookie season) "The biggest thing in my rookie year was the terminology of the playbook was completely different from what I was used to. Just picking up on that was the biggest task."
(on what his biggest memory of the 49ers was as a fan) "My biggest memory of the 49ers was when they beat the Packers in the playoffs (in 1999) with T.O. (Terrell Owens) down the middle."
(on if there was a question if he was going to be the primary backup at the start of the season) "Yes, there was."
(on what the competition was in training camp for the backup role) "It was hard work, and it was a competition. I was trying to do everything I could to prove that I needed to be at least No. 2, and that I could go out and play."
(on if he thought that the college offense would work in the NFL) "I thought it would work to some extent. I didn't think it was something you could run every play. There are too many good athletes on defense at this level. Not so much the speed, just the fact that everybody is good on defense. There are not really too many people you can just pick on in the NFL like there is in college."
CENTER JONATHAN GOODWIN
(on what he remembers from the last time the San Francisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl) "I remember it pretty well. I was a 49er fan growing up. Steve Young got the Super Bowl ring so that's the main thing that stands out to me. Back then, that's when each and every year they had a shot of going to the Super Bowl. A great team and a great group of players. Hats off to them."
(on how long it has taken the 49ers to get back to the Super Bowl) "This league is a tough league and it changes from year to year and every team gets better. I'm not going to say I'm surprised but I'm glad it's happening."
(on playing in the Super Bowl for a team he was a fan of as a kid) "You get to go to the Super Bowl with your childhood team, so that's something that's special to me. Hopefully I can find a way to win the Super Bowl with my childhood team."
(on leaving New Orleans as a Saints player) "Definitely one of the toughest decisions of my life. I really loved being here. I love the city of New Orleans. Even that day on, I changed my mind twice. It was definitely a really tough decision. I had to do the same thing when I came to New Orleans; I had to take a leap of faith. Fortunately, up until this point it has worked out."
(on making the decision to go to the San Francisco 49ers after the lockout) "I flew out there with my wife. I was at one of their practices and I went out to eat with Coach Harbaugh and Greg Roman. That night I decided I was going to come and in the morning I changed my mind. Then on my way to the airport to fly back to New Orleans, I ended up changing my mind again."
(on why he decided to go to San Francisco) "Being a guy that was over 30 the contract offered me more security long term. I didn't want to get into the movement every year."
(on talking to Coach Jim Harbaugh about being in a Super Bowl) "I just told him it's an unbelievable feeling, a feeling that's hard to put into words. Winning the NFC Championship is great, but winning the Super Bowl is probably a 100 times better. I shared that we want to come down here and it's a business trip, not necessarily to have fun. It's to win a football game. We have to be able to stay focused throughout the week and try to accomplish the goal we said we wanted to do in training camp."
(on seeing Colin Kaepernick's face in the hotel garage) "It's amazing. He was the backup quarterback a couple of months ago. Now he is the guy that's going up on the walls in stadiums. Hats off to him. In the two seasons I've been in San Francisco, he's been a hard worker. He's a guy that just about every morning when I pull up to the facilities he's already out on the field doing extra stuff. He works his tail off and he deserves every bit of success."
(on being back in the Superdome) "I love the city of New Orleans. It's definitely a place I want to come back and visit often. To be able to go in the Superdome where I already have a lot great memories and a chance to make another great memory, is something I would always cherish. Hopefully we can get the job done but it's definitely a special feeling to be back here in New Orleans playing in this game."
(on where his Super Bowl XLIV ring is) "My ring is in South Carolina. It's locked up in South Carolina. Last year when I first got to San Francisco a couple of guys got to see it but it has been in South Carolina. Hopefully I can pull it out with another ring in a couple of months. It's something I take a lot of pride in but at the same time it feels weird being on another team with another team's logo on it (the ring)."
(on playing Sunday) "From my experience, the first three plays, when I played a couple of years ago, was kind of a blur. After that first three, it just became football again. Everybody was playing as hard as they could but at the end of the day it's still football. Just preparing during the week and focusing on the task at hand. At the end of the day it's still a football game."
(on teammates asking the difference between a normal game and the Super Bowl) "A lot of eyes will be on you this week. Once you get to the game you've got a longer halftime and a longer pregame. The main thing is coverage (of the game)."
(on his brother Harold Goodwin being an offensive coordinator) "It gives him another reason to get on me. He's always trying to coach me even though he's not my coach but I appreciate it. As a little brother I've always looked up to my big brother. He's always been there for me and he's always helped me in any way that he can. Even though when I feel he's wrong as a coach sometimes I just take it."
(on imagining if he'd play a Super Bowl in New Orleans after leaving) "No, not really. Going into San Francisco I knew we had a lot of talent; it was just a question of how fast we could put it together. To now, playing in the NFC Championship game and then into the Super Bowl, can I honestly say that I thought that'd happen? No. It's definitely a team I had a lot of respect for, especially in terms of their defense playing against them. Fortunately we've been able to put the talent together and become a winning team. Hats off to these guys. Can I say I could have predicted this right away? No."
(on Colin Kaepernick) "I think the Chicago game, great defense and the way he played that game, it said a lot about him. Even in a couple of other games. We lost to the Rams and had a couple of negative plays happen, and Colin came right back. It seems like anytime something bad happens he comes right back and does something great. Look at the Green Bay game. One thing I've always said about him from the start is he comes off as a guy that has a lot of confidence. I'm not just saying that, you can feel it by the way he acts and talks."
LINEBACKER PATRICK WILLIS
(on what he has planned for this game Sunday) "Go out there and play the best football I can and hopefully come out with a win."
(on how it feels taking the 49ers back to a Super Bowl) "The 49ers had a tradition for a while where they were winning Super Bowls and contenders all the time. They kind of went through a dry spell, so it feels good to be back. It feels good to be a part of what's going on right now considering the first four years were pretty bad."
(on being described by head coach Jim Harbaugh as getting the job done kind of guy and not taking credit type of guy) "I've always kind of been this way. I've always had high expectations for myself. Any time I'm able to make a play or do something that most (people) don't think I could do or can do. For me, in my mind, I've already seen it or felt like I could do it. So I don't get overly excited about anything because in my mind I'm just doing my job."
(on how you are going to stop Joe Flacco) "(Joe) Flacco's a good quarterback. He's really becoming a quarterback of his own. He has a strong arm and there is no question about how far he can throw the ball and the strength of his arm. He can move a little bit. For us, we are going to have to play team football. Our coverages are going to have to be great and guys are going to have to get after him when they're rushing."
(on what his first impression of NaVorro Bowman) "Just to see what he's been able to do going into his second year, his first year starting, his preparation and seeing how hard he works. There is no surprise seeing him having the kind of success he is having now."
(on when he knew NaVorro Bowman was as good as he is) "I am not one of those guys who try to say, ‘I always knew this or I saw it then.' It was just one of those things where I respect and earn - to be able to be given a name, to be able to be considered a good football player, you have to consistently do it on a day-to-day basis and that's how I went about it with him. I just watched him prepare. I watched him day in and day out. That's how things unveiled over time, just seeing him consistently do it. That's where respect, for me, comes in."
(on people not noticing him) "I've always been a firm believer that you go out there and play football and play good football and the rest will take care of itself. As far as Ray Lewis, I will forever and always have respect for what he has done for this game. The way he has played it and the passion he has played it (with). But at the same time, the time is now. I want it bad. We want it bad. That's just the way it is. We are going to go out there and play."
(on whether it's a coincidence he wears #52) "It's a coincidence in the sense that when I got drafted they had a few numbers, 51, 52, 57 and I'm an even number type guy, so I said to myself, '52 sounds the best out of all of these numbers and I'm a fan of a guy who wears No. 52 and that will be a number to play up to. That will be a number to be able to wear on your back because a great one is wearing it right now.' So that was kind of my sense that I took."
(on whether he has a relationship with Ray Lewis) "(The relationship) kind of started through Pro Bowl times. I've always been a fan of his and then when I got drafted, being coached by Coach (Mike) Singletary. I think I played him my first year in Baltimore. I got a chance to shake his hand then, but really got a chance to get to know him a little bit when we were at the Pro Bowl. We sat down outside by the pool, where all the guys hang out, and we just talked. I recall his wise words. He passed some of his wisdom over to me. I'm the type of person, I'm a big fan of those who have been there and done that. Or guys who have done it at a high level consistently. I've always had respect for him."
(on how this week is structured) "We still are going to have the same body of work that we would have if we were back home - same kind of work that we had when we were in Youngstown. The only difference now is that we have to do a whole lot of media, and this is not Youngstown."
(on whether he calls Ray Lewis Mufasa) "Yes, that is what I call him anytime I shoot him a text or meet him. I call him Mufasa. That's from the movie the Lion King. By no stretch of the means am I calling him a King. I'm just calling him a King in this game and what it's about and what he's been able to do at the linebacker position. He holds that. He holds that crown for the way to play the middle linebacker position and the way it's been played for a long time. That's why I call him Mufasa."
(on his game compared to Ray Lewis') "I've never been a man of comparing because I don't like when people compare me because we are all our own person. We all have something different. We all have something that makes us who we are. As far as comparing, he plays the game with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. I play with the same kind of passion and enthusiasm. I may not get up and go as crazy as he does at times, but inside when a play is made or something is going good, I burn. I burn inside with that same kind of feeling. I just don't show it as much."
(on whether he felt the 49ers were close to a championship before Jim Harbaugh arrived) "Yes. That's what's funny because people ask all the time what was the difference. What did he do? Honestly, there were times in those first four years being there that there was no question in my mind that this is the year. We're going to make a run. I always thought that if we can just get in the playoffs, we have a team that can make the run, but we just couldn't get over that hump. So he came in, him being the coach of the year, him putting together the coaching staff that he put together. He already had players there that wanted to win, players there who wanted to work. Players there who wanted to go out and sacrifice to do whatever it took to win. With the additional add-ons to some of the guys he brought in and drafted , the coaches and players together were able to find a way."
(on whether he thinks Harbaugh made the difference) "There is no question in my mind that he is a big part of why we are what we are today, but I think it takes all of us all collectively as a unit and a group, from players to coaches, to management. It took us all together to get us where we are today. It wasn't just one player or one coach. It was all of us together."
(on whether there was a moment he could see a turning point)
"The turning point for me in understanding what we have - anyone can pat you on the back, laugh with you, cut up with you when things are going good. It's when you go through those hard times, when you're in the heat of battle and things aren't going so well that you really find out a true man's character. Last year we were playing against the Eagles and the Eagles jumped out on us big time. We went into the locker room down 17 points. I've been part of a locker room whether it's players or coaches where guys are pointing the finger at one another. Guys are mad and saying this and that. For some reason, that locker room, the coaches and the players came in and we were all like, ‘We've got ourselves in this. We have to get ourselves out.' Coach Harbaugh was like, ‘They said it wasn't going to be easy, but we don't like easy. We got ourselves down we have to fight out of it.' Our defensive coordinator, Coach (Vic) Fangio came in. He had every reason to go crazy on us. He said, ‘Guys you know what we got to do. Just calm down. Settle down and let's go play.' I just remember sitting back and watching him and being like, ‘Wow.' Whether we lost that game or won that game, to me, just to have that was amazing. Fortunately, we were able to go out there and win that game. Which put in more perspective the kind of leadership we have within our head coach and other coaches."
(on what changed in the second half against the Eagles in 2011) "We just came out and calmed down, but the biggest thing was having our coaches believe in us the way they did. And having the players believe in one another the way we did. That's the key. I feel like if we came in there at halftime and everybody would have been yelling at one another and coaches yelling and cutting up; I don't think we would have gone out there with that kind of mindset. Let's just calm down and focus. We all believe in one another so let's go do it as opposed to going out there mentally mad at him."
(on what Randy Moss has brought to the team) "I still remember playing video games, just so you could get him and throw it deep. I don't know if it was a clinch in the game. I used to think it was a clinch in the game, but to see him in person. To see him run the way that he does. I got the older version of him coming here, but he can still light it up. He can get down the field. That's just what I see as a person. I can only imagine what he used to run. He has brought so much to our team. He brought leadership. He's brought wisdom. He just brought the charisma that he has within himself. He comes to work every day. He has a sense of humor. When it's time to work he works, but at the same time you can go and talk to him. You can go and ask him a question and see what's on his mind. Some stories you've heard before where a guy is so high up you don't think you can go talk to him because you think you might ask him a crazy question or he won't have the time. But Randy has all the time in the world for his teammates. If this is his last season, I want to make sure he goes out with a bang."
(on his scholarship offers) "I didn't get any big time scholarship offers. Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) was the best one out of all of the schools. The other SEC schools didn't offer me a scholarship."
(on whether he wanted to go to Tennessee) "Yes I did. I was a Vols fan growing up. That was like America's Team. I wanted to go there so bad. After every game my dad and I would get in the car and drive five hours to go to Knoxville to watch them play on an unofficial visit. This was on our gas money and our time. I just wanted to show them how bad I wanted to be there. I can't forget being there and you have all these other big-time recruits there and they are shaking their hands and the coaches are talking to them. The coaches never shook my hand. They never talked to me. One day I just got tired of doing that. My senior year, I remember going up and saying, ‘Coach I see all of the other guys getting love. I really want to come here. I'm interested in coming here. Do you have something for me? Maybe a scholarship offer? Maybe something just saying you want me?' But I didn't get that. I got, ‘Well you're having a hard time. We're recruiting two other linebackers, Ernie Sims and Daniel Brooks. Those are the two guys we want and we don't know if you're going to make the ACT score.' I never forget looking at him and being like he basically said we're not really interested, we don't want you. I'll never forget getting in the car with my foster dad and we're riding home and I cried. I cried, not because I was sad, but more so because I knew how badly I wanted to be a Tennessee Vol. I knew what type of player I could be. I'm sorry that I didn't go to a 5A school. I'm sorry that I wasn't in a town that could be recognized, but we are what we are. We are in the situation that we're in. The good Lord had a plan for me. I ended up going to Ole Miss. Ole Miss, Coach.... and those guys, I thank them. They gave me a scholarship and I ended up going there and had the best four years that a football player could have. Well, we didn't win that much, one time, and that's when Eli (Manning) was there my freshman year, but I went there and had a blast and had a great time playing football there. Here I am all these years later. The Lord had a plan for me."