Several San Francisco 49ers players spoke with reporters before Tuesday's practice as the team prepares for its NFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. Here is everything they had to say.

Transcript provided by the San Francisco 49ers Communications staff.



QB Jimmy Garoppolo


Does the fact that this is a playoff game, does that feel different to you than any other game that you've played to this point?

"I think the intensity and everything like that. I've been a part of some playoff games and seen the atmosphere of the building ramp up, the atmosphere of the coaches, players, everyone. Yeah, a lot more energy in the building, for sure."

From your past experience, do you treat that any differently?

"Personally?"

Yes. Should a quarterback treat it any differently?

"You have your routine that you try to stick to. I'm pretty consistent with that, so it won't change too much. You've got to feed off the energy, though, a little bit. It's the playoffs. You've got to love it."

How much did you watch on Sunday?

"Just about all of them, yeah."

Do you watch it from a "I'm getting ready to play these guys perspective" or how do you balance that?

"The NFC teams, yeah. AFC, got to enjoy a little bit. You're trying to do scouting reports on them as you go, just pick up anything you can from the TV copies like you always do. Just being able to see them live is a little different."

What is your scouting report of the Vikings?

"They're a talented group defensively. Very sound. They have their rules. They stick to their rules. Coach [Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike] Zimmer does a great job of getting them in great plays. They make it tough on offenses. That D-Line, they are impressive. They get after you so it will be a good test for us."

They've been really effective defending tight ends. What is it that they do that is effective?

"I mean, their overall scheme, I think, helps them with that. They have talented safeties, talented linebackers who are the guys covering them. They do good in man-to-man situations. It will be tough on us to get those completions."

Why did WR Emmanuel Sanders seem to have such an impact when he arrived? How much does his postseason experience, a lot of talk about you not playing in the postseason, but here's a guy who did and was very successful, how does that help this week?

"Whenever you've got guys with experience like that, whether it's sharing their experience, sharing stories of what they've went through, anything like that could always help the younger guys. We've got a lot of guys who haven't played in a playoff game. It will be good to share that stuff."

Why did he have an impact when he got here in a trade?

"There's a number of things. It starts with him just being a pro. The trickle-down effect that he had to the other receivers and other skill positions on offense was huge. It doesn't always go as seen. Just the stuff he does in the locker room, things like that. Obviously, his performance on the field speaks for itself. He brings a little bit of everything."

RB Raheem Mostert has called himself a beach bum. He surfs and skateboards. Do you notice that in his personality and is there a switch that he flips when he's on the football field that's different from that?

"A little bit, yeah. We have a number of guys with that switch who can do that. He's one of those guys, chill guy, gets along with everybody. So, I could definitely see the surfer and skateboarder mentality. Heem is an awesome guy to be around, great guy in the locker room. Just a pleasure to be around."

You have been in the playoffs before, obviously. Is it different? How is it different? Is it less relaxing now to go in as the main guy?

"Obviously being the starter and backup is a little different. Yeah, I'm trying to prepare the same I have this whole season, treat this week, just go through my routine and everything like that like I normally do. Yeah, like I said before, the energy I think, especially on Saturday in that stadium, will be pretty special."

So much information out there, passing stats and that kind of thing. What statistical benchmarks are important to you when you sit down and look at it? What do you want to be seeing that you're doing well?

"Honestly, I don't really look at the stats. I know it sounds cliché and everything. As long as the quarterback is winning, I think he's doing his job and putting his team in a good position to win. As the quarterback, that's your job."

Having been in so many tight games this year, especially big moments, like let's say New Orleans, what does that do for you and the overall team heading into a game like this which you know is probably going to tight and heavily contested?

"Yeah, well, we've had a couple of late games this season that just felt like playoff games. Starting with Seattle here, Baltimore, New Orleans, all those games. We've said it throughout the entire season, I think it's going to help us going forward. As far as the experience with it, I think just we don't have to deal with the noise and things like that. It will be a little different at home. Just the energy, the intensity that's out there, it's a little different."

What do you remember about the season opener in 2018 specifically, the challenges that defense gave you?

"Yeah, they do a good job with their disguise, obviously holding it with the safeties and thing like that. They don't give you anything easy. They make you work for everything down the field. There's really no easy completions, no easy eight-yard run that you're going to get. We're going to have to earn everything. We know that going into this."

Offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers' commercial has been getting a lot of air. As an offensive assistant, how much growth have you seen since she's joined the staff from her?

"She's been tremendous. Katie was here before I was. What she does with the receivers, all the skill position guys, how she interacts with them, it's special. She's feisty, man. Katie is awesome out there. She'll get after the guys. It's fun to be around."

A quick reaction to being fined $7,000 for throwing the ball in the stands and then finding out it had been caught by a San Jose fan who had driven all the way to Seattle?

"Pretty accurate on the throw. I saw the guy. I wasn't trying to start a riot or anything. I was trying to throw it to that specific guy. He made a great catch on it. Yeah, I was glad it was a San Fran fan that caught that."

T Joe Staley was honest a couple years ago about nearly walking away and clearly this means a lot to him. I know it means a lot to all of you, but do you have a sense of how much this run means to him going into this?

"Yeah, I think not even this run, just this whole season in general. You could really see it after the Seattle game, how much it meant to everybody. But Joe, he's been through the ups and downs of this whole organization. Just the one in Seattle was a big one. We just want to keep this thing rolling for him."

DL Nick Bosa


How did you spend the week off from playing?

"Just resting. Took full advantage."

How do you feel physically?

"Pretty good. I think it was obviously really important for us. Obviously, we're going to prepare really hard this week. But, just getting our bodies back allows us to practice even harder."

How much does having DL Dee Ford on the field impact how offensive lines approach you specifically? Do you notice maybe you get more favorable situations?

"Yeah, I mean, having an extra pass-rusher always helps. Get more one-on-ones, get the slide two. Opens up stuff for the interior guys, as well. Probably see them start to get more opportunities with Dee on the field, too. It's not just me. It's just great to have another good pass-rusher on the field."

What has he been like behind the scenes dealing with the injury, rehab, the frustration of not being able to play?

"Dee is a vet. He knows how to take care of his body, how to come back from stuff. He knows when is the most important time for him to be healthy. Obviously, he's had some setbacks, which is pretty disheartening for anybody trying to play. But the fact that he's feeling great now is all that we could ask for."

As far as taking care of your body, when did you come up with the routine that you use now? How long have you been doing your after-game stuff?

"I'd say during my combine prep. I started training with my brother's trainer. That's kind of where I get my stuff from."

You're routinely the last guy to come into the locker room after a game. Did you have to tell yourself to take your time, go through all those steps for the maintenance?

"I mean, it's just kind of who I am. Whenever I know something is good for me, I'm going to take full advantage of it. From high school on, maybe I had coaches telling me to do the wrong thing, but I thought it was the right thing. I would abuse it thinking it's helping me. Whenever I find something that I know helps me, I'm going to use it."

As a pass-rusher, when you watch Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins play, including last week, what strikes you about him in terms of your ability to get to him?

"You're not going to be able to rush him unless you stop the run. That's what we're focused on."

In the playoffs, sometimes people talk about the pressure. How much fun is it to be playing this time of year, having so much at stake?

"Yeah, I got lucky coming into a really great team, first year get to play in the playoffs, get a bye week to start out. Not many people get this opportunity in their careers. I'm just trying to latch onto the older guys and see what they're going to do to prepare, listen to all the tips my coaches have. But, I'm just super excited to still be playing football. Now every team you play is going to be a really good team, so we have to play our best."

When you see Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and how he runs, how do you defend him?

"Yeah, I've been watching him since Florida State. He's really good. Not many people could just maintain the speed that he maintains through contact. He just makes cuts and never slows down. He's physical. They've got two of them, so it's going to be a challenge. We've played some good backs, but we haven't played him. We just got to bring it."

There is still some football left, but how would you assess your rookie season?

"I think it's still going on, so that's a good thing."

T Joe Staley


What does it mean for you to be back in this situation?

"Yeah, very exciting. Very exciting. Obviously, to be in this situation, haven't been here since 2013. Excited to get back in the playoffs, play meaningful football. Excited for the opportunity this week in a big game. Just excited. I don't really know what else to say, just excited for the opportunity."

Did you at sometimes feel like it might not happen for you again?

"Maybe. I'd be lying to you if I said, 'No, I always believed.' But there were some dark years here in the franchise, it's been well written about and reported on. But once I met [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [general manager] John [Lynch] and the vision they had for the franchise, I was pretty confident we were going to get there. I was just happy I was still feeling the way I felt, still had years left to play, was going to be able to see this through. Excited to be here, have this opportunity, go get it done."

Did you have a timeframe once you met Kyle and John?

"No. You realize the position we were in, coming off a 2-14 year. Kind of wanted to completely rebuild the roster. You know it is going to take time, not going to be a one-off season. Just saw the guys they were bringing in, guys they were drafting. Everything they've been telling me since the day they got here has been true. Haven't lied to me or any of the players that have been in here. They've had a vision from day one. Been exciting to see them build this place."

What do you tell the younger guys about playoff atmosphere, media coverage, heightened fan interest?

"This is the stuff that can get a little bit distracting, the media coverage, like you said, the heightened awareness of what we're doing. As far as performance on the field, that's what we've been doing the whole entire season. I think that is the big thing to stress to the guys. I haven't made any speeches. I don't think anyone is going to make any big speeches about doing what we've done the whole entire season and preparing the way we prepared every single day. That's what's going to prepare us through the playoffs, prepare us for the game on Saturday, hopefully going forward. We can control what we can control. That's the practice we have today, the preparation we put in. You don't have to put any extra pressure on yourself that it's the playoffs. You don't have to do something different. It's all about doing exactly what you've done the whole entire year. That's why I think the habits and the routines that you build during the season are so important for opportunities like this. You don't have to reinvent the wheel at all."

This is QB Jimmy Garoppolo's first playoff start. What is it about him that makes you feel like this will just be another week for him?

"The way he's been the whole entire time he's been here. The thing I always come back to when asked about Jimmy, the thing I respect the most about him, the guys in the locker room respect the most about him, is his preparation and work ethic. You see a lot of talented guys coming into the NFL throughout the years, but what guys really respect is the preparation and work ethic that he puts in. He's been the same guy since he's been here, since day one. He's going to try to be the most prepared person he can be. He is going to practice the same way every single day. Just the stuff I was talking about in the last question, really prevalent with Jimmy. The way he prepares. He's not going to try to reinvent anything. He is not going to try to do anything different. He is going to be the same quarterback, the same person he's been for this franchise since he's been here."

How do you see him prepare?

"Guy is always in the building, on the football field, asking questions, got different answers, talking to different people. Everything that you just see. You can tell the guy knows his playbook more than anything. On field doing stuff in practice, asking questions, asking the right questions. Very detailed in his preparation, knowing what to expect, visualizing all the different stuff. He's a guy that's been in here. One of the clichés, first guy in, last guy to leave. He exhibits that. It's not just a show, it's who he is."

What has RB Raheem Mostert done behind the scenes to excel and make the most of what he's gotten?

"He's really taken advantage of his opportunity. I think what's been most exciting about his journey is the actual journey to where he is right now. I think it's that work ethic that he's displayed. He's never complained about his role. When he was a core special teams guy, he's going to be the best special teams guy we have on this team. When he was doing look squad running back for us, he was going to give us the best look squad he had. When his opportunity came up there to get a lot of substantial carries, he was going to do the best job he could. It was always about doing what he can do to help the team. That's a message for a lot of young guys. Not complaining about your role, what your role is currently, just try to be the best player you can be for the football team. You never know what's going to happen, what opportunities are going to arise. He's made the most of it."

What do the Vikings present up front?

"The Vikings are very, very sound up front. They're a very sound defense. They have a lot of guys that have played in the system, played together for a long time. They know exactly where each other are going to be. It's really hard to get them out of position. So, it really just comes down to doing your techniques and your blocks. They have really talented players up front. [Minnesota Vikings DE] Danielle Hunter and [Minnesota Vikings DE] Everson Griffen have been a great edge pairing in the NFL for a long time. They both present unique challenges as far as tackles go. But, all across the board, you look at everybody, they're a very sound defense. They play well together."

How would you convey WR Emmanuel Sanders' impact? It seems like he gave you an established receiver that you really needed when he came in.

"Yeah, he came in and he just did what was asked of him. He was exactly who he was. He was a big-play guy, plays with a lot of energy. He fit really seamlessly into this locker room. I think it was pretty easy for him because we had an established locker room. He didn't come in having to be a culture changer for anybody. He just kind of came in, fit into the offense, really seamlessly into the whole entire locker room. It has been a pleasure to have him on the team."

WR Emmanuel Sanders


You and T Joe Staley, your lockers are right next door to each other. What have you learned about him over the past couple months?

"I love being locker buddies with Joe. With the basketball going on in there, he lets me sit by his locker so I don't get hit by a basketball. I told all my teammates, 'I feel like the only way I'm going on IR is if I take a basketball to my head or something.' Those guys shoot all the time. It's a good luck charm. I kind of scoot over into Joe's locker. He will see me at his locker. I try to get up and he says, 'No, you're good, you're good, you're good.' That shows you what kind of guy he is. He's a great teammate. I enjoy playing with him. When I first got here, he was battling so many injuries. He came back, then had the hand. He's the definition of resilient. To have a long career like he's had, it's been extraordinary. He's a guy that, I'm 10 years in the league, but I look up to because I want to be where he's at some point in my career. What a great guy."

You played 17 games this season. How much did this Bye mean to you?

"It meant a lot. It meant a lot. A lot more than I thought it would have meant in how I feel today. If you would have asked me two weeks ago, I was like, 'What's going on with my body?' Certain things were just aching. My ankles were sore. My big toe was sore. Just everything. Now here I am, I had the little Bye, had the opportunity to get a break. Last week was really just jogging through a lot of stuff, now my body feels good and ready to go. It was definitely tough. I've seen a lot of things on Twitter saying if the NFL wants to change the season to 17 games, they should ask me, and I'd say no. My body was hurting and I needed that break."

How does the locker room feel to you? Is it loose, tightening up?

"I think it's loose. When you've got guys like [WR] Kendrick [Bourne] walking around the locker room dancing, blasting music, doing all kind of dance moves, it's kind of hard to not be loose. Even this morning, he was in the locker room dancing around, him and [WR] Deebo Samuel, all the rest of the young guys. I looked over at [CB Richard] Sherman, 'Man, these guys keep us young, man.' Guys like that are good for the ecosystem of this team. Guys like me and Sherm are good for the playoff experience to let them understand the magnitude of what we need to accomplish. I think we've got a well-balanced team."

How much does your playoff experience, obviously you had a good run with the Broncos, finishing here in the Super Bowl, how much can you lean on that as you go on?

"You know what, if you asked me what does the playoff experience mean, I think it just comes naturally. I think the entire time since I got here, this team has been paying attention to the details. I can't sit back and say, 'Okay, this is the time for us to lock in.' I feel like we've been locked in all season, ever since I got here. When I talk about playoff experience, I say, 'Don't do too much.' I feel like when a lot of people get in the playoffs, they think they've got to do more, they've got to do more. At the end of the day, you're in the playoffs, you've already been winning games. Just remain who you are. I think it's kind of like what you were saying about staying loose. Those young guys, be who you are, dance. If you dance, dance. Whatever you were doing during the season, continue to continuously do that. That's going to help. I feel like a lot of people are going to overdo it, overthink it, which, in turn, can be a bad thing."

Is that something you have to talk to QB Jimmy Garoppolo about this week?

"No, I don't have to talk to Jimmy about that. Two Super Bowl rings, that guy's got. He knows. He knows what it takes to go all the way and win it all. He's seen the preparation from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. At the end of the day, he understands the process."

The Broncos and the 49ers had those joint practices in training camp. Did you get the idea or have the idea the 49ers could get this far?

"Yeah, I remember after when we practiced against this defense for the first time, they kind of shut us out that first practice. I remember calling the team up and telling them, 'That was embarrassing.' I didn't know they were going to be the defense that they are now. But I knew that we couldn't move the ball on them the first day of practice. The second day we were able to. I think the altitude kind of got to them a little bit, which I was happy about. Yeah, I remember coming out and just seeing the team, being like, 'Man, these dudes are huge.' You look at [DL DeForest] Buckner, [DL] Arik [Armstead], these guys. Man, are they tackles? They're interior D-Linemen. The corners, Sherman, 6'3" corners. Everybody is big. I noticed that right off the bat."

Since then, how much have Deebo and Kendrick progressed?

"I didn't really see them too much. I was going against the defense, and they were on a totally different field. Truthfully, I didn't even know who those guys were. I didn't really know too much about them until I got here. Just to see Deebo and KB, how these guys practice, how they run through the ball, run after the catch, I was just like, 'You know what, let me try to fit in with these guys.' One thing about this league, you can be in Year 10, you can take a guy at Year One, if you don't think you can learn from a guy in Year One, you're not going to make it too long in this league. I feel like everybody can learn something from somebody. When I first got here, I saw these guys running to the ball, running after a catch. I said, 'Let me go and talk to them, ask him how he does it.' If you watch Kendrick Bourne run through the football, even when you go to games and there are a lot of guys in this league, I've been in this league a long time, they don't run to the football like that. He has exceptional hands. Deebo, the way he runs after a catch, that's something I try to pick up off those guys."

In retrospect, how crucial was it for you to be in Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello's offense for a little while?

"I think it was really crucial. When I was about to get traded, I was hearing rumors about the Saints, to the Patriots, the 49ers. I said, for me the easiest transition would be here because a lot of the terminology, a lot of the plays, I've already done that in OTAs. I've already put in months and months of preparation. When I got here, it was just an easy transition. It ended up working out."