Q: How does weather affect the game?
A: Nothing. You have to play in it too. I think it’s supposed to rain out there all week or something like that. How I look at weather is that the other team has to deal with it too. I like playing football regardless of snow, sleet, sun, whatever. It doesn’t really stop what we want to do, we just change some things.
Q: If Manning doesn’t have a normal week of practice how will that affect things?
A: He’ll be ready. We’re not worried about that.
Q: Do you think the 49ers will be able to repeat what they did in the final minutes of their last game against your defense?
A: I guess time will tell. Obviously they had a great run there. I think a lot of people were surprised considering that’s not how their team has won their games—coming from behind, things like that. They stepped up and made plays when they needed to make them. Obviously they have a very talented football team.
Q: How much has Jason Pierre-Paul grown?
A: I think he has grown a lot. We still talk about a lot of different things. I think the biggest difference is he has so much talent that a lot of the things he comes and asks me about, he plays it correctly anyway just off of him being as talented as he is. He did a great job this year. Regardless of the numbers he’s had, he’s always been that type of guy who wanted to learn more about football. Up until this year he hadn’t played that much, so he’s done a great job with that. With all the success he’s had, he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still in the meeting room with us asking the questions that need to be asked pertaining to him getting better. So far, he surprised me with that.
Q: What did you think when you saw Osi Umenyiora’s strip sack on film?
A: We’ve seen a lot of that, so it wasn’t like I was surprised. It just seemed like it happened at the right time. It could have been a big play for Green Bay, but that’s why we have 11 guys on the football field. We have each other’s back and sometimes you’re going to need that. Sometimes somebody is going to be in the wrong position and you can cover a lot of that up by 11 guys playing as one.
Q: Did he also beat a man to the inside?
A: Looks like he’s healthy, huh?
Q: Looks like he has been doing more than coming off of the edge?
A: A lot of people like to pigeon-hole Osi, but I always say he’s one of the more complete defensive ends we have in this league.
Q: Tom Coughlin said earlier that you are blocking out distractions, is that more about blocking out pain or people questioning you?
A: Both. It’s been one of those years where when it just seems like when you seem like you have it right and your body is starting to feel good, something else happens. When that happens, obviously there are going to be people questioning you about where your heart is and things like that. My teammates know where my heart is, my coaches know where my heart is. I just came to the realization that I’m not going to be healthy this year, I’m not going to put up the stats that I’ve put up. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t help this football team win games. At the end of the day, that’s the end goal. That’s what I mean about blocking all the other stuff out.
Q: What is it about road games that this team loves so much?
A: It’s just the concept of us against the world, I guess. You don’t have anything else to fall back on except your teammates. I think that goes a long way with building trust, with building that belief in the fact that, regardless of who we go face, if we just take that corps of guys, those 53 guys and the coaching staff and owners on that plane going to wherever we go, we can come out victorious. That’s just a mindset that has been instilled in us ever since Coach Coughlin has been here.
Q: How much does momentum play a factor?
A: I think we are a team that is ascending. Obviously the last couple of weeks we have played pretty well in just about every phase of the game. I know it’s cliché to say, but we’re going to need our best game this week in all three phases. San Francisco and us are kind of built the same. We’re consistent on defense, we have offenses, ours might be a little more explosive, but obviously they showed they have that knack too in that New Orleans game. It’s going to be a really good game, but momentum for us right now is sky high. It’s something that we hopefully can continue to ride into the Super Bowl.
Q: How much do you have to worry about Vernon Davis?
A: We don’t worry about anybody; it’s all about what we do. Will we have something in store to kind of slow him down? Sure we will. But at the end of the day, we’re not going to put too much emphasis into what they do, as long as we do what we do. Vernon had a great game and he’s a great athlete and great tight end. It seems like other than quarterbacks, tight ends are having a big year this year. I know he’s going to be a tremendous focal point for us going into that football game, but at the end of the day it’s about what we do.
Q: Was it tough for you to be a vocal leader this year?
A: How I like to lead is by example, by going out on the football field and doing it. So, this year has been tough for me in that regard, as far as leadership, but there are growing things for me too. Learning how to still get your point across without doing it on the football field, which I previously liked to do. But the one thing that I learned this year is the guys respect what you’ve done. A lot of times I wouldn’t say anything and guys came up to me and said ‘Why are you so quiet’ or ‘Why do you do this or do that.’ And I would tell them why. They came to me and were like, ‘You know what? You don’t have to worry about that. We know you’re not 100%, we know that doesn’t stop you from being a leader.’ I guess I got that okay from other players to still be the vocal leader and still be showing leadership even though I wasn’t doing it on the football field at times.
Q: Was that meaningful to you to hear your teammates say that?
A: Yeah, because at the end of the day, the only people who really matter are the people you play for and play with. As long as they appreciate what you do and they know you’re giving it your all, it doesn’t matter what people outside say. At the end of the day, that went a long way for kind of getting me mentally on track I guess.
Q: Was that the epiphany of your year?
A: I guess that would have been the epiphany of my year. At the end of the day, I think it was a lot of things. Coach Coughlin’s conversation, I’ve had conversations with several players. Being home by myself looking in the mirror. There have been a lot of things that have, I guess, pushed me to just say, ‘You know what, just go play football and whatever happens, happens.’
Q: Was there a temptation to say something to people who questioned you?
A: There are temptations to say a lot of things. Like I said, just go play football.
Q: Can you take anything from the last game against San Francisco with Frank Gore not completely healthy?
A: You can kind of see what their blocking schemes were. Like you said, he was kind of banged up in that game, so we expect to see a healthy Frank Gore. Obviously it’s going to be a huge challenge for us. He has been a workhorse for them, not only this year, but also years in the past too. I’m sure they’re going to try to establish their running game with Frank and with Hunter. Hunter is a good change-up back for them. It’s going to come down to us being able to stop that. They’re a smash-mouth type of football team. They’re going to stick with it until you stop it. They repeat plays, and for good reason. If I was playing a Madden game and I loaded up the box and ran it all game, I wouldn’t change it either. That’s going to be kind of part of our [mentality]. Man on man, just making sure we get them out of their game. If we are able to do that, we stand a good chance to come out with a win. If not, it’s going to be a long day in San Fran.