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On the Blitz with Banta-Cain, Trophy Case


This season on, LB Tully Banta-Cain is splitting time with QB Alex Smith reviewing the previous game each week. With Smith resting his shoulder, Banta-Cain again took this week's wrap up, an exciting one for this 49ers linebacker.

I guess I'll just start with the how huge the win was for our team. It was really a big lift and to be able to pull it out in overtime just shows that this team continues to fight.
That last play actually happened really fast. Ron Fields and I were both closing in on the quarterback and when Ron hit Kurt Warner he was able to get his arm and jar the ball loose. I was actually close to the play coming from the other side so I immediately saw the ball come out and I just jumped on it. I knew as soon as I had it that the game was over.

That was the first touchdown of my career and the first defensive touchdown we've had all year and to get it for the win was huge for me, our defense and our team.

Throughout the game it seemed like it was one of those contests where it was going to come down to what defense held up against the other offense, and definitely in overtime that's usually what it comes down to. So, we really felt the pressure on our shoulders to get out there and create a turnover or just get off the field on third down and allow our offense a chance to get back on the field to finish the game. We felt our offense could move the ball, but it just so happened that we ended up finishing the game on defense with that touchdown at the end.

We never would have had the opportunity without the missed field goal so that delay of game penalty was enormous. I think it iced their kicker. I also tried to talk to talk some trash to get in his head and rattle him. I don't know if that mattered, but I think you always have to try to do whatever you can out there in those situations to rattle their guy. That was definitely a prayer answered from the football gods.

Arizona put up some big yards but we had the best turnover ratio we've had all year and that definitely helped us have success in the game. Our offense really took advantage of short fields and scored some touchdowns to keep us in it, and we were just able to capitalize on our opportunities.

Walt Harris had two interceptions and really on both of those plays, he just put himself in great position – basically ran the route with the receiver and undercut him and then made good plays on the ball. I think that shot a lot of energy into the rest of the guys. He was a catalyst for us in terms of turnovers.

Nate Clements knocking that ball out from Anquan Boldin, that was a heads up play. He always works on that in practice and it has become a habit for him to do that whenever he's going in for a tackle. That was definitely a big turning point in the game and then Mark Roman scooped that ball up and took it back inside the 10.

Even better was that the offense took advantage of the field position. To be honest, I thought Mark was going to get the touchdown but they got him down finally. He had a nice run back with a wall of blockers which is something we also make a habit of doing in practice so it was just a natural reaction for guys to create a wall around him. He didn't get in, but hey, we'll take it at the 6 any day.

The big play we'd obviously like to have back was the Hail Mary at the end of the half. It did catch everyone by surprise a bit. Larry Fitzgerald is a big receiver and it was just a lucky play. You don't see that happen too much, but still it's a play that we've got to eliminate from happening in the future and I think guys will look at the film and see what they could have done better. I know that's one I need to look at it some more to really see what happened.

Guys were upset heading into the locker room at the half, but the coaches said forget it, and to put it behind us and let's just get out there and press on, and that's what we did. We knew we were playing tough and that it was just one play.

We got a little banged up in our secondary during the game, but we've got a lot of depth there and those guys came in filled those roles. Mark Roman had to work some at corner and those guys did a great job of contributing to the win.

One play at the end of the fourth quarter sticks out to me and that was down at the 1. We knew they were going to have to go to the air because if they tried to run and we stopped them, the game would have been over. We also knew they were trying to test Donald Strickland late in the game and for him to come up with that play where he knocked the ball out of Bryant Johnson's hands really gave us a chance to win. That was one of the biggest plays in the game I think.

Joe Staley played lights out and he really had a phenomenal game. That play where he hawked down Sean Morey to save the touchdown in overtime was a big time play.

Another guy I thought really showed a lot of heart was Frank Gore. Playing with that ankle and having the game he had with more than 100 yards on the ground and nearly 100 yards through the air was an enormous factor in us getting the win.

They were a team that we definitely respected because we knew they had some weapons on offense and they've got a solid defense. We had to prove to ourselves and to the Cardinals that we are a team to be respected as well. Coach had talked to us about win, lose or draw that we needed to have pride and lay it all out on the line and I think we went out and did that on offense, defense and special teams. It was the kind of team play I've talked about needing in all of my columns.

I left the field holding the game ball and I never really let go of it until I got home. That's my first career touchdown so it's going in my trophy case and that will be a ball that will be passed through the generations of Banta-Cain's.

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