49ers vs. Falcons transcripts: Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick, plenty more to enjoy

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers took care of business in Week 16, and had plenty to say after the game. Here are transcripts for your viewing pleasure.

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

What are your feelings about LB NaVorro Bowman at this moment?

"That was the, that was one of the greatest plays I've ever seen. That was a, never been involved in a football game where something that good happened in a game. And, it was a great play by [CB Tramaine Brock] T-Brock and a great play by NaVorro Bowman. It was like a pick-and-roll in basketball. It was like a pass and a pick and took it all the way to the house."

Brock sort of knocked it out and Bowman grabbed it? Is that what you mean by the pick-and-roll?

"Yeah, just kind of pick-and-roll like. But, that's the best thing that I've ever seen happen in a football game. It might have been close to ‘The Catch.'"

You looked like you were going to run down into the end zone with him.

"That was the best birthday present I've ever gotten. Second, only to being born. That was awesome."

What were your emotions when you get the lead and start to give it away? Was there frustration? Was it anger? What were you feeling?

"Just, you know, we were going to be resolute. We were going to win by any means possible. And, a lot of things happen in a football game and our guys fought to the end."

Was Bowman supposed to be the last guy on the onside kick there? Was that his role to field that ball or did things get mixed up there a little bit?

"Yeah, whatever. I've got no fingers to point right now. If you want to point fingers, point fingers. I'm just happy about the game."

You said this kind of might rival "The Catch." Is that your feeling at this moment, that this might top "The Catch?"

"No. ‘The Catch' is ‘The Catch.' There will never be another catch, but this was a great moment, a great moment."

What were you feeling? That game was looking like it was getting away from you guys there at the end with obviously they're driving. What were your emotions? Did you have a sense of the team's feeling as the Falcons are driving down there?

"I was just getting ready to use a timeout and try to conserve some clock so we could get the ball back. And then the return happened."

You had so much of the celebration and before the game, halftime, quarters. Do you think that all distracted the team? Did that maybe lead to some of the sluggishness?

"No, I don't think so. I mean, this is a, the build up to the final regular season game at the iconic Candlestick Park, and I love history, I appreciate history as much as anyone, but for the men who were in the arena, it's about the future. This game was about that, what our destiny was. And, we're coming face-to-face with our destiny and that's what the game was about."

Are you going to miss this stadium?

"Yes. Yes. A lot of great memories. A lot of great wins. And, this was as big as they come. That was a tremendous win for us. And we needed it, our team needed it."

What was happening offensively in the first half? Just not moving the ball very well.

"You know, we had the, it seemed like maybe three or four possessions was about it in the first half. We were making first downs, but we only finished the one drive with a field goal. And, basic adjustments at halftime. I thought our guys really came out smoking in the second half offensively and defensively."

There was a point in the third quarter where you guys really sort of asserted your dominance. Were you disappointed that they kind of sneaked back in the game late?

"That's a great team, great quarterback. A bunch of the same people that we played last year in the NFC Championship Game. And, in the NFL when there's no turnovers the game's going to be tight. And, the turnovers really didn't happen until late. They got one for them on the onside kick and then we got the interception return. Other than that the games are going to be real close."

It looked like you were going to follow Bowman the length of the field.

"I think there were, a lot of guys were running ahead of me. I wasn't the only one."

Did you put the brakes on at some point?

"I don't know. I was just so happy, just so happy."

You guys are in the playoffs now for a third straight season. So, what does that mean to you and how well are you guys playing on your way into the playoffs now? What do you want to get out of next Sunday's game?

"The same, win by any means necessary. Yeah, I think it was a great accomplishment. It gives you a chance. Being in the playoffs gives you a chance at the ultimate chance and our guys needed this one to do that."

RB Frank Gore had close to 100 yards. It seemed like he was struggling maybe with his ankles early in the game. Did he have to get them re-taped to get back in?

"He didn't say anything about the ankles."

How'd he look to you?

"He looked good. I mean, he broke some runs in the first half and the second half as well. I thought he ran well tonight. I thought the line really asserted itself, especially on the long scoring drive."

You had, that last scoring drive was all running plays. Was that from you or was that QB Colin Kaepernick calling things from the huddle?

"No. They were coming from [offensive coordinator] Greg Roman. He had [RB] Kendall Hunter break the big one. I think it was about a 50-yard run. The scoring play was called by the players. Frank, wanted the repeat of the call we had on first down and Kap said he wasn't going to say no to him, and it worked."

Colin's touchdown run, was that just a straight quarterback run or is he interpreting anything as he's catching the shotgun snap?

"That was a run. Power, quarterback power."

It looked like you were signaling, when S Donte Whitner got flagged for that personal foul in the second quarter. It looks like you were saying to the ref he hit him in kind of in the chest area. Is that obviously what you saw and you thought that shouldn't have been a flag?

"Well, what'd you guys see? You probably saw it on the TV or the replays, so."

A grey area.

"Grey."

Your first words to Bowman when he got back from scoring the touchdown, do you remember what you were saying to him?

"I said that's the best thing I've ever seen in a football game that happened to our side."

He had the big play at the end of the NFC Championship Game against this team. Have you kind of thought about that in your head, how he's been the hero in the last two games against the Falcons?

"Now that you bring it up I think about it. But, just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful occurance. And, again, T-Brock made a heck of a play, making the break on the ball, dislodging the ball, keeping it alive and Bo did the rest and showed a lot of speed. That was a heck of a run."

QB Colin Kaepernick
Press Conference - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Colin, what were your emotions there, late in the game, to see how things turned in an instant with Navarro Bowman's play?

"I was excited, it was an amazing play by [CB Tramaine] T. Brock and [LB NaVorro] Bowman. For him to finish it out that way, it was great."

What was the message that Coach Harbaugh gave you guys at half time for you guys to come out with such a strong start to the second half versus the first half?

"We had to finish what we started, we needed this win to get into the playoffs."

What kind of adjustments were made?

"We just weren't executing the first half the way we should have. We came out the second half, we executed."

Was there emotion because of the evening and what it all meant? Why do you think things were not clicking there in the first half?

"It was just one thing here, one thing there that we were just a little bit off. In the second half we pulled it together and were making the plays we should have been."

In the back of your mind, were you kind of hoping for one last rushing touchdown here at Candlestick?

"No, I wasn't worried about that. I was worried about trying to win this game and get into the playoffs."

Jim talked about how Frank kind of talked you into that repeat of that first down play down the goal line. What did he say to you and what was your thought process during that time?

"We had a different play called and [RB] Frank [Gore] said he wanted the same thing and I wasn't about to argue with him."

Do you have that power to do that?

"I don't think Coach was too mad because we scored. So, it was alright."

How about winning for the fans? The excitement that they had throughout the game, as a player do you take pride in sending this off right for the fans?

"Yeah, the fans were amazing tonight. I think that' the loudest it's ever been at Candlestick since I've been here. I think they had an impact on the game as well, as far as throwing their [Falcons] offense off and not let them check and audible the way they want to."

I know you have not been here that long, but what was your most memorable moment here?

"I got my first start here. I'll be the last quarterback for the 49ers to play in this stadium so that's another thing that's going to be very memorable."

You guys are in the playoffs now, so is that something that's talked about in the locker room? What's your mind set now knowing that there are some games out there that could affect you and potentially get you the number one seed?

"That we have to win next week. We are taking it one week at a time and making sure we're trying to string wins together."

WR Anquan Boldin/WR Michael Crabtree
Press Conference - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

What changed in the second half with the offense with the passing game in particular?

Boldin: "We just started to make plays, plain and simple. We got the running game going, our offensive line did a great job up front, the backs did a great job finding the holes, hitting them and going for big gains. [QB Colin Kaepernick] Kap was giving us chances outside."

Crabtree: "Just making plays. When we needed to make a play coming out of halftime that's what we did."

What did you think of [LB NaVorro] Bowman's hands on the interception return?

Crabtree: "He made up for what happened before that. It was a big play."

Can you talk about what it means to the team to make it back to the playoffs? Certainly a first step for you guys.

Boldin: "It means a lot. If you look at the history, team's that make it to the playoffs, to the Super Bowl, usually don't fare too well the following season. For us to be consistent and to get into the playoffs is big and that's what you play this game for, to eventually get to the playoffs and have a chance to win it all."

A lot of talk about this being the last game at Candlestick, you guys making it to the playoffs, what did it mean to have this kind of sendoff?

Boldin: "It was great for us to get a win. There was so much involved in this game. For us, if we win, we get in and it happening in the possible last game at Candlestick, it's just one of those moments you want to cherish, you want to take it all in, but at the end of the day, it's a football game."

Have either one of you guys ever been involved in a game with such a severe flip back late in a game with so much on the line?

Boldin: "When you've been in this league for over 11 years, yeah. I've been in some crazy ones. I've seen leads change at the end two or three times."

Did it feel like Colin really asserted himself and got into a rhythm in the third quarter? There was one drive there was Colin passing and there was another where he had some significant runs. Did you feel that happening?

Boldin: "Yeah, I think so. He kept the chains moving, whether it be with his legs or his arms. Crab had a couple big ones. He gave me a chance on a couple and he got some big first downs with his legs. When things broke down and he was able to get outside the pocket he was able to make it happen, so yeah."

Michael, can you talk about that one 50-yard catch you had where you had to turn around and then took off with it?

Crabtree: "It was a good play. It was a good job by Kap for trusting me, throwing the ball up and letting me make the play. I can't say too much about that play, I was just trying to make a play. I feel like I should have had a little more energy, but it's alright."

Are you on the hands team on the onside kick?

Crabtree: "I'm not one of them."

Boldin: "Now he is. [laughter]"

G Alex Boone
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

When they recovered the onside kick and you've got the whole place, it's the last game at the Stick, what are you thinking on the sidelines or what are you saying to yourself?

"I can't tell you what I was saying, but I've never seen someone have a turnaround like that and unbelievable finish by [LB] NaVorro [Bowman]."

Bowman, what a year he's had. To me, it's amazing he's not getting any consideration for defensive player of the year. You're seeing him every day in practice, are you amazed by what he's done? He's had an incredible year.

"No, not at all. Bowman's a total pro and everything he does is fierce. You've got to love a guy like that on your defense. He's a great leader. Him and [LB Patrick Willis] Pat are easily the best pair of inside linebackers in the NFL."

Do you feel like you have some unfinished business after last year?

"Right now, our focus is going to Arizona. Really to get this win, we solidified our ticket in and we're excited about that, but we've got to focus on the next game. We can't screw it up."

CB Tramaine Brock
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Did you feel like it was kind of an up-and-down game for you personally, before that interception to end of the game? And did that feel redemptive for you?

"No, not really. There wasn't anything really happening to me. They caught a few balls in front of me, but they weren't for any big yards or anything like that. They got one ball on a play that I should have made, but other than that I wasn't worried about something big happening to me."

Were you surprised that they got back into the game in the fourth quarter? It seemed like in the third quarter you guys asserted yourselves a bit more.

"I really wasn't surprised. It's a football game and it can go either way. So, we just went out there and kept on fighting. That's what we had to do to get the win."

Was it surreal to go back out there after the onside kick? What were you thinking before that?

"We were thinking that we were going to recover the ball and the game would be over with. It kind of shocked us, so we had to go back out there and stand up."

On the previous interception when you got a piece of the ball and LB NaVorro Bowman ran it back, did you know the ball got deflected behind you, and at what point did know what the heck was going on?

"I was trying to grab it. We both kind of had it and I thought I was going to come down with it. But Bo [LB NaVorro Bowman] just took it and got out of there, which made sense. It was a good play and it helped the team get the win."

Before that it was looking a little bleak there for a minute. That was such a big swing, what were your emotions when you saw him running down the field?

"That's when I realized it was a big play. At first I was just playing football, but then I realized they could have won or tied the game. So, I knew it was a big play for the team."

TE Vernon Davis
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Some people have been very emotional about playing the last game at Candlestick Park. Now that it's all set in, how do you feel?

"Still a little emotional. It's going to be tough to take it all in, but one day at a time. I'm going to miss this place, I'm sure my teammates are as well. But we're moving onto something new and something better."

How did you feel on that last play when LB NaVorro Bowman made the pick and sealed the win?

"It felt great. I'm happy for another guy's success, always. It made me proud to see him get that interception and take it all the way. So it feels good."

The offense seemed a little stagnant in the first half but in the second half it seemed like you guys scored on almost every possession. What changed?

"I think our guys didn't want to lose. They didn't want to lose, they wanted the game. So as a team we came together collectively and just kept pounding away."

Vernon you took a few plays off and came off the field. Were you alright?

"I got poked in my eye so I had to get myself back together. I took a little bit of time but when I came back I was good to go."

How does your eye feel now?

"A little sore but it's okay."

Which eye?

"The right eye."

But it feels fine now?

"It feels fine now."

Did it affect you during the game?

"I don't think so."

Is playing at Candlestick something that you're going to have to look back on years afterward? Is it that kind of place here?

"Oh definitely. There are a lot of memories and history here in this stadium. If I could think back in my mind right now, the first time we went to the playoffs, against New Orleans, that was one of the greatest experiences ever. But like I said, we're moving onto something different and something better."

What was it like having all the 49ers legends around this week? Did you talk to them about some of their memories and history with the 49ers?

"It was a great deal, especially having the guys who started everything; Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, all those guys. It's always good to have them around because you get an opportunity to pick their brain a little bit and just see how they feel with leaving Candlestick. You get that bond."

RB Frank Gore
Press Conference - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

"How you all doing?"

As far as the excitement, what did tonight's game mean to you?

"It was big, especially getting a win in the last game in Candlestick in front of all the fans. They've been great fans since I got here in '05. I've been here for the ups and downs. First six years were tough years for me, and also I know for the fans. The last three years have been great, been a blessing. I'm happy that we got it turned around. And trying to get back like it was in the past, like when all the other great guys who came through here like the Jerry Rice's, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Bryant Young, Roger Craig. We're trying to get to where they were at."

What was your reaction to LB NaVorro Bowman's interception?

"I was happy, I was happy. We came in the game knowing if we win we're in the tournament. I take my hat off to Atlanta. They fought, they fought. We got it done, and around this time of year you need some luck and we'll take it. You need some luck around this time of the year."

Coach said you convinced QB Colin Kaepernick to give you the ball back there?

"Yeah, I kind of saw the defense, how they were playing, and we were at what, the inch line? And the backers were playing like 5 yards back. I knew it was a quick hit, and I know I quick-hitted it. I barreled through. I knew they were going to come on top of me because my running style is so low. I knew they weren't going to get a great hit on me. But I'm happy he listened to me. That's one thing I love about Kap, he listens to his players, his teammates."

All week you guys have been talking about that you wanted this win for the fans. How special was it to have the old players coming out and to do that in front of them?

"It's great, especially to win to put us in the tournament. To get back to where we left off last year, and hopefully we can get the job done. It was a great win. It took all of us to get the job done, and I think that's what it's going to take for us to move forward to get it in this tournament. It's going to take all of us to make plays to get back to where we left off last year."

How often do you ask Colin to change the play like that, and how often does he do it?

"It's barely. But I just know when they called another play, but I was like, ‘We are at the inch-line, let's keep to that quick-hitter again.' And like I say, he listens. He listens to his teammates, especially guys who are on the field with him and are making plays for him."

Is it surprising to you to see FB Will Tukuafu come in this week and then play so much today and so well?

"Yeah, I'm happy. I'm happy he's back on the team. I'm happy he got an opportunity to show that he belongs with us, and he did a great job when he got his opportunity."

You have such reverence for the players that have come before you and the history of this team. What's the history that you want to be?

"I want to be able to say I was on the team that brought the trophy here. I don't want to be, when I'm done, remember as I was one of the guys that got in the championship and we didn't get it done. I want to be one of the guys that can say that we got there and lost, we came back the next year and got the job done. And I'll be great with that."

S Donte Whitner
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Where does that play by LB NaVorro Bowman rank in Candlestick Park history?

"I don't know, but I know one thing, it's a great way to close Candlestick Park out. The Atlanta Falcons brought everything they had today. Today was their Super Bowl. They wanted to kind of right their season. So, it was a tough fought game. It actually felt like the NFC Championship from last year."

Have you ever been that emotional on one play to end the game?

"I don't think so. I think it's a huge play at any point in the game. Up three with under two minutes to go and you get an interception or turnover and return it for a touchdown to really close the game out is a huge play. So, I don't know where it ranks in Candlestick history, but it should be up there."

You're a veteran player. A lot of these young guys don't realize the history of this place. What are your emotions now? This may be your final interview in this locker room.

"Hopefully it's not. Hopefully we get a playoff game here in a couple weeks, but if you just look around at these jerseys in the locker room, the type of guys that called this place home that really made Candlestick Park a special place, from [former S] Ronnie Lott to [former WR] Dwight Clark to [former QB] Steve Young to [former QB] Joe Montana, you can go on and on and on. [Former WR] Jerry Rice. Just so much history in this locker room and this stadium and I know this place is going to be missed."

Not only did Navorro make that play, he made it after that onside kick. What did you tell him after the touchdown?

"It was tough. After that onside kick, I think we were all shocked. We knew we had to make a play on defense or at least hold them to three. I'm just glad that [CB] Tramaine [Brock] was able to get his hand on the football, Bo was able to catch it, and we just wanted to make sure he got in the end zone."

LB NaVorro Bowman and LB Patrick Willis
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

What does it mean for you to kind of go out of this ballpark on that kind of note for your name in history?

[Bowman] "Yeah, it means a lot. You know I want to take it all to my coach, man. I was the guy who missed the ball on the onside kick and our coach just said let it go, move on to the next play, we still have a shot to win and it really got me through it. Just having [LB] Pat [Willis] out there just getting me right. I was able to overcome it and make a play for my team."

Can you take us through that play? What did you see?

[Bowman] "It was all out blitz and read the quarterback and [CBTramaine] Brock did a great job on breaking in the ball and I came up with it and took it 90 yards."

Coach [Jim] Harbaugh said it's the greatest play he's ever seen in a game that he has ever been a part of. Is that the same for you?

[Bowman] "Yeah that is my best play. I told Pat I am good for one interception a year and I'll take that one any day."

What happened on the onside kick?

[Bowman] "As you can see, the coaches have a lot of faith in me. They put me on the hands team and I learned today it is not all about hands. You've got to have some type of baseball IQ to get down and stop those short balls, but in practice they are pretty easy, but in the game they are a lot harder. It is just some adversity we had to overcome but we were able to do that."

It is only the first step, but you have clinched the playoff and how much does it mean?

[Willis] "It means a lot. One of the things we talked about all year is that who knows what it is going to be like. Not everybody just expects us to coast through the season. It would be easy, but as you know we went through a little bit of adversity and people were like maybe they aren't the team that we thought they were, but we just believe in ourselves, stay together and we have another chance now to go make something happen."

Is there ever stance when they have the ball and they are moving and where it is slipping away from you?

[Willis] "No, not at all. That is one of the things we talk about all the time. Like I said, Coach [Jim] Leavitt is one of the best coaches to have on the sideline, especially when fans are going crazy because for us we want to be mad. We are competitors and we don't want things to happen but for some reason he always finds a way to build us up and keep us on edge and tough. We have to go out there and we have to lead. We have to keep everybody together and we can make things happen and that is what he told us today. He said you know what, let's go. We have a chance to win this game. Let's not let them score."

All the years that you have been playing here at Candlestick Park, did it really feel like you had an extra chip on your shoulder playing here tonight?

[Willis] "It was actually chill tonight. It was a lot of history in this stadium, but the biggest thing for us was we need to win this game to have a chance in the playoffs. We understood that if we lost, it put a lot more pressure on us next weekend. Next week is a big game for us, but we need to take care of today and it only took a day to get us out of the playoffs, but we also want to be one of those teams remembered as the last team to win at Candlestick."

A lot this season you made a lot about celebrating the plays at Candlestick. Is there anything special that you added to that?

[Bowman] "Somebody just mentioned to me that they are going to have to redo the top 10 plays at Candlestick, so I'll take it. My first pick of the year to get us into the playoffs and now I just want to keep it going and make some more plays."

Most memorable moment?

[Willis] "My most memorable moment would be tonight. Toasting before and having people talk about all the good that crossed this league but what they don't understand is that every day I come to work and this guy is on the side of my locker and, this to me, is one of the best linebackers in the league. I say that because I know how hard he works. I know how hard he works and one of the best things is he wants to see do well just as much as I want to see him do well. To see him have that play and be running down that sideline with him and just make sure the receiver doesn't catch up with him and knock the ball out. I told him one day when we are old and grey we are going to look back at that play and say that is when we were fast. I am glad that I am a part of it and that we got the win today for so many reasons. I just thank the fans and that everybody was here to support us and support us over the years and thank NaVorro and T. Brock and just the whole team for just going out and fighting the way we did and we got it down. Now we just stay humble and get ready for next week."

Did you think you would have the last touchdown at Candlestick?

[Bowman] "No, not at all. It feels good. I can't lie and say it doesn't feel good, but we have some more games ahead of us so we have to get those."

CB Eric Wright
Postgame Quotes - December 23, 2013
San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons

What was it like to be on the field for that last play at Candlestick Park?

"It was great. It was a great opportunity just to be a part of history. Growing up here, I literally grew up blocks from here, so this stadium means a lot more to me than a lot of people. It's just one of those things. You're happy to have a movement to sort of a better arena so they say, a new arena, but nothing can take away what the Stick means to our city."

After the game was over, I saw you took a little time on the field. You went over and sat on the bench. Were you just collecting your thoughts and emotions about the last game here at a place you grew up watching games at?

"Yeah, pretty much. I just wanted to take it all in. The reality of the situation is once I leave this locker room, there's a possibility that I won't be back in here ever. I just wanted to spend a little extra time out there and definitely enjoy the fans that actually stayed outside as well. So, just feel the energy and just pay my respects."

You said that this stadium means a lot more to you than a lot of other guys. What's it been like watching all these 49er legends being around here this last week and get to talk to some of them?

"It's cool. These are people that I looked up to my whole life and I watched play since I was a little kid. Just having the opportunity to see them and meet them, talk to them, I'm extremely grateful for that. I definitely looked up to those guys since I was a little kid, so they're part of the reason why I'm here now."

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