The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are back at practice in preparation for Sunday Night Football later this week. This means it is once again time for players and coaches to chat with opposing team media. Today, Broncos QB Peyton Manning and head coach John Fox spoke with 49ers media via conference call. I have transcribed the Manning conversation, and will get to Fox later. You can listen to Manning HERE, or read below.
Manning spoke about the 49ers defense and Vic Fangio, the development of Julius Thomas, his pursuit of Brett Favre's touchdown record, and of course, the 2012 free agency period when the 49ers spoke with him.
On facing team he hasn't faced in a while:
Sure, obviously it's an opponent you're not familiar as with like a division game, or AFC team that you play often. So yea, you gotta be on the preparation part of it, try to get to know these guys during the week.
On early preparation of 49ers defense:
They have excellent players, well coached. Tough against the run. They do a great job on first down. That's where they get a lot of their stops. Everybody thinks it's all about third down, but they stop teams on first down, and make third down awfully tough. They've always done a good job on the takeaways, and protect the ball. There's a lot of things that jump out to you.
On facing them short of Willis/Bowman:
I don't know, I'm still studying these guys, and so, you have to prepare for everything. Who's gonna play, who's not gonna play. How do you really know up until Sunday. I still see a well-coached team, I see a disruptive front, and I see guys making plays in the secondary.
On where he has improved and declined as a QB:
Well, for me, changing teams, coming a year off an injury, there's a lot of changes. The physical part of it, taking a year off, coming off an injury. There is an adjustment there to a new physical state, if you will. You can kind of learn what you can do and what you can't do. You try to work on the things that are tough. You keep working on them, and you eliminate some things. The fact that you have new receivers, new team, new offense, it's a huge adjustment there. It's kind of a double whammy there. You're learning about your new physical state, you're learning about how a new receiver runs his routes, learning Adam Gase's offense. Experience is your best teacher there. The more games and repetitions you get with Julius Thomas, or Emmanuel Sanders this year, the more improvement you can make.
On history with Fangio and any hallmarks to expect:
I don't know if I can answer that, but Vic is an outstanding coach. I enjoyed the 4 years that he and I were together in Indianapolis. He was the first defensive coordinator that I had as an NFL player. I used to enjoy talking ball with him, and competing against his defenses in practice. It was always very competitive, and the different places he's been, his teams have always been very well coached.
On the 49ers pursuit in 2012:
Well, certainly, it's an outstanding organization. I enjoyed getting to spend time with Coach Harbaugh, Coach Roman, and Trent Baalke. You can tell why they win. They have great leadership in those areas. Obviously it was something I had never been through before, and you're trying to figure out a place to go to work. You're looking for a job. It was uncharted territory for me, but there's a reason they've been such a successful team. They not only have great players, they have great leadership.
Where he spoke with Trent:
I just had some conversations with him on the phone.
What led to....
Look guys, this was three years ago. Maybe check some old quotes or something. That's a long time ago when you're playing these guys on a Sunday night. Seems like a long time ago.
On Harbaugh pursuing vs. evaluating:
That was all part of the process. I'm probably the wrong guy to ask how those things are supposed to work. Talk to a guy that's been a free agent multiple times, and so I don't know how different teams do it. It was a new process for me. I enjoyed the time that I spent with the 49ers personnel, the coach, general manager, met with the doctor. I don't know what the verb is, if it really matters. There are a first class organization, and there's a reason they've been so successful.
On Julius Thomas:
He's unique because of his size, and his speed. I've played with some taller tight ends, some bigger tight ends a guy like Marcus Pollard and Ken Dilger, I played with in Indianapolis. And of course, Dallas Clark, probably did not have Julius's size, but certainly had that great speed, and that receiver route-running ability. So yea, Julius is unique in the fact that he has great size and outstanding speed. And he's really trying to expand his game. Being able to run routes outside, working on trying to become a complete tight end. He's still a young player, everybody has to remember that, including us. He's still learning, and hasn't played a ton of football, going back to his college days. But I appreciate his work ethic. He works hard, he really wants to be a great player, and I've enjoyed playing with him.
On Demaryius Thomas having early slump:
Nah, I think Demaryius really had some conversations with himself, if you will. I think he challenged himself. He has a high standard for the way he wants to play, and I think he just was thinking a lot for the first couple games. It affected his concentration on some basic things, catching the ball and whatnot. You know, Welker didn't play and we were moving Demaryius into the slot a little bit. Whether that factored in, he just had a lot on his plate, it's hard to say. He spent the bye week really getting to the fundamentals and he's played really well the last two weeks. I think it's really a credit to him. Everybody gets in a little slump if you will, goes through kind of a rough patch. And the good ones can work themselves out of it, and I think that's what Demaryius did.
On touchdowns, and expectations of throwing them each game:
No. Our mindset is trying to score more points than the opponent. We work real hard on all the phases of the game, you know, first downs and third downs, and certainly on the red zone. We feel it's your job as an offense to score points, no matter what the opponent does. You're trying to score more than they do. It's the only part of the game we can control. Whether it's handing the ball off or throwing passes, just trying to do your job. Trying to score touchdowns, help your defense, keep them out of tough situations, and protect the ball. We still have a lot of basic football philosophies we try to achieve each week. Protecting the ball, eliminating penalties, staying out of negative plays, and certainly trying to score touchdowns when you have the opportunity.
On Brett Favre record:
I've been asked about it a little bit recently, so certainly you get asked about it. But my concentration has been on playing quarterback, and doing my job and helping my team win games. We've had two good wins the past two weeks, and playing an outstanding team this Sunday. I think when you concentrate on trying to do your job to win the game, that's kind of where your mindset is, and it's hard to think about anything else but that. I have great respect for Brett Favre. I'm not sure anybody played the game quite like he did. I miss watching him play, and if there's one thing I wish I could take from Brett's game, I think all quarterbacks would like to take, is I'm not sure anybody had more passion for the game than he did. It's something that I strive for, but I'm not sure anybody can quite reach Brett's passion. It showed on the way he played, his longevity, his productivity in his career was second to none. When asked about it, I think about that. I have great respect for all the quarterbacks that have played this game. I think it's the hardest position in sports, maybe I'm biased a little bit. I have great appreciation for the history of the game, when it comes to quarterbacks, I'll say that.