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Defensive Player Transcripts: Jan. 27

Posted Jan 27, 2013

LB Patrick Willis, DT Justin Smith and S Dashon Goldson spoke to the media on Sunday in New Orleans.


(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.”


(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.”


(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.

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