Linebacker Parys Haralson led the 49ers in sacks in 2008 with 8. Haralson said he isn't satisfied with last season's performance and will look to make more strides in 2009. Catch up with the 49ers pass rusher in this Q&A.Q: What were your individual goals coming into this past season and were able to reach them?**
A: My individual goal was to have a better season than I did last year. I think I met that, but now my goal is to to have a better season next year than I did this year.
Q: In what ways did you improve as a football player?
A: Any time you play more football, you just understand the game a lot better. With more experience, you're able to recognize plays and you can understand what the offense is trying to accomplish.
Q: When you're playing with a guy like Justin Smith, who has such a high motor, do you feel like it makes you look bad if you don't match his intensity?
A: Yeah, you have to match Justin's intensity. A guy like Justin can draw a lot of attention and that frees you up sometimes and allows you to go one-on-one against an offensive lineman so you have the chance to make some plays.
Q: There was a lot of talk about the defense being simplified in the second half of the season under coach Singletary, but in your opinion, what were the biggest reasons for the improved play of the defense in the second half of the season?
A: We really settled down as a group and simplified things. As a whole, everybody stepped up and raised their play to another level. Really, we all focused on handling our responsibilities. We knew we had to take care of our own responsibilities first. Earlier in the season, a lot of teams were getting big plays on us, because we were giving those plays away. But when we made changes to our defense, we made other teams earn everything they got on us and that was really because we simplified our game plan.
Q: Now that the season is over, do you have any special offseason plans?
A: I don't have anything special planned, really I'm just going to hang out, chill out and rest up for next year.
Q: By now everyone is well aware of how much passion and intensity coach Singletary brings to the team, but as a player, what is it like playing for him?
A: Playing for coach Singletary is great. He's in the Hall of Fame. He's a guy who loves the game and he brings his passion to work every day. Every time he speaks and every time you see him coaching, he brings that same passion. He wants to go out and win every time. You could see the way that we played with him as our coach in the second half of the season – we played with that same kind of passion. When you're in the game and you see him on the sideline and the intensity that he brings – it makes you want to go out and match him. If you match his intensity, you're going to be playing at a high level.
Q: One of his biggest messages has been bringing all three units, offense, defense and special teams together as one. How important was it to build that type of team unity?
A: It's really important. In the NFL, you have to have offense, defense and special teams playing as one. You can't be successful if you're not all on the same page. Everybody saw that we were able to win games in the second half of the season when we started playing as one and encouraged each other from the sidelines.
Q: What was your most memorable game of the season?
A: The best game of the season has to be the Washington Redskins game. Just winning the game and knowing that we wanted to finish the season with a bang and we were able to do that – that was important. It was a total team effort. The offense had to help us out sometimes, but that's how you could tell we played as a team. Over the course of the season, sometimes we had to pick up the offense and in that game, they picked us up by driving down the field and making a game-winning field goal. It's the same for special teams too; they picked up the offense by making that kick. All three phases go hand-in-hand. The Washington game was a good example of all three units coming together and being successful.
Q: Being from Mississippi, how special was it for you to have sacked a Mississippi legend in New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre?
A: It felt good, but it was really just another sack. I wasn't trying extra hard to sack him, I was just doing whatever I could to help the team win. Being from Mississippi it means a little more than other sacks, but really he's just another quarterback who I was trying to bring down.
Q: When you look back to the first game of the season where you sacked Kurt Warner twice, how important was it for you to make a big impact like that on opening day?
A: It's always good to start your season strong like that, but you have to keep it up consistently throughout the season and you have to finish stronger than you started. Sometimes you don't always accomplish what you want to get done and you have to keep playing and make as many plays as you can.
Q: Are you pleased to have had the most sacks on the team this season and does that give you bragging rights amongst your teammates?
A: Leading the team in sacks isn't a big deal. To me, I really don't pay any attention to it. When I get sacks, sometimes it may be a coverage sack or sometimes one of my teammates could have flushed the quarterback to me. There's a lot of different ways to get a sack and really it's a team effort. Sometimes you get a one-on-one matchup and you're able to get the sack and sometimes the quarterback runs right into you. It's really all about going out on the field and making the most plays that you can and doing whatever you can to help the team win. At the end of the day, that's all I really care about.