Q: What does it mean to you to play in this game after missing the last NFC Championship game?
A: It’s huge. This entire season has kind of been up and down, but there’s no place I’d rather be than out here right now with these guys.
Q: What do you remember about the Super Bowl run in 2007?
A: It was exciting, it was fun. Knowing that you’re a part of the team, there is a big part of you that’s still involved. I was still around here. We didn’t make any trips, but we were definitely down there for the big one. It’s emotional because you want to be out there so bad, but there’s not a whole lot that you can do or say. It’s a tough situation to be in.
Q: Did part of you think you missed your shot to play in an NFC Championship game?
A: You always feel that way because when you’re on IR or you’re hurt, it looks like there’s no way that things are going to get better for a long time. That was tough and that was definitely a part of it. What if this chance doesn’t come back again? But we’re here.
Q: Did you share any of those thoughts with the players who are on IR right now?
A: I try to talk to those guys and give them words of encouragement to keep their head up, but I understand exactly what they’re going through so I know that a lot of that’s going to fall on deaf ears, it’s just a matter of working and getting your rehab in. The good thing about being in a situation like this when you’re hurt and your team is going forward is it gives you a little extra boost during your rehab. So a lot of those guys will probably come back faster than what you thought they would.
Q: Have you allowed yourself to think about playing in a Super Bowl in your hometown?
A: It’s been brought up a lot, obviously I can’t get around it, but we have to take one game at a time. We don’t want any letdowns at all, and I don’t want one. So yeah, that would be awesome but for right now let’s just focus on getting this game and making sure we accomplish our goal.
Q: Was it more difficult to be on IR during the Super Bowl or when you don’t make the playoffs?
A: It doesn’t matter, it’s all the same. I’ll tell you the truth. From the time you go down it’s tough. I went down probably halfway through the season, so every week after that, you’re watching and just wanting to be out there. I don’t think it makes a difference in terms of how bad you feel about not being out there on the field. It’s just tough.
Q: Do you have to make an adjustment between linebacker and defensive end?
A: At this point in my career it’s not as difficult as it would seem to be just because I’ve done it for a long time now. Coming into this year before I re-signed, that was a challenge that was brought to me. This is a role that they saw me in from the beginning of the season. Going back and forth, that was my mindset from early on. It’s not as difficult. It’s taxing in terms of when you come out here and get the game plan, you have to look at seven different positions and figure out how you fit into those fronts and just take care of business.
Q: What does your heart tell you that you are?
A: I’m a football player. I always say just put me on the field and I’ll make plays. Going back to my college days when I was a captain and young guys would come and ask me questions and all I would tell them is you have to make plays. If you make enough plays in practice, they will put you on the field. If you make enough plays on the field, you’ll stay on the field.
Q: Describe what it’s like for an offensive line to scout your pass rush.
A: They have to put in extra time as well. Not only do we have speed, we have guys who have power, we have guys who can move around and drop into coverage and do all those things very effectively. It has to be tough on them, but that’s how we like it.
Q: What’s your impression of San Francisco’s offensive line?
A: Obviously they’re a strong group of guys. They run the ball very effectively and that always starts up front. They get some good push. They’re playing together, they’re playing with confidence, and they’re in this position for a reason. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re confident about our chances.
Q: Do you agree with Chris Canty that this game will be a bloodbath?
A: I heard that. That’s this kind of football. You get two teams like this who want to run the ball and want to stick to their game plans as much as possible, which is line up man to man and see who is a tougher guy at the end of the day. These are the kinds of games I live for.