Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Post-game Quotes: Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, DeForest Buckner, other players react to 49ers advancing to Super Bowl LIV

Jan 19, 2020 at 11:12 PM--

The following are several transcripts and select post-game quotes from San Francisco 49ers players following Sunday's 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

Quotes provided by the 49ers Communications staff.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo

What do you need to do get more passing attempts?

"Got to talk to [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] or something. I mean, we were running the hell out of the ball tonight. It made my life very easy back there. I think we had, like, eight pass attempts. A fun night."

Talk about the offensive line, how they performed today?

"I thought they came out from the first snap ready to roll. They made a couple of ankle tackles early. You saw the way the game was playing out, and [RB] Raheem [Mostert] just took off tonight."

Could you tell early on you guys were going to have that type of success on the ground?

"You always think that way and you try to plan that way, but you kind of feel the game out as it goes. I thought Kyle did a good job calling the game and I thought the guys did a great job executing."

You talk all the time about complementary football. What is it about this particular style of defense and the run game that works so well at this time of the year?

"It's a long season. So, people always get banged up and things like that. But, when you can play good defense, run the football like that and be efficient on third down it makes you tough to beat this time of year. It's a good combo for success."

That third-and-eight run by Raheem, his first touchdown, is it something that you guys worked a lot on in the run up to this?

"A little bit, yeah. Just it's part of the game plan and Kyle called it at the perfect time. It was a great set up. It was awesome."

Did you have a strong sense that they would lean heavily towards stopping the pass based on last game?

"You kind of have a feeling of it, but this defense, it's kind of a feast-or-famine defense. We got a couple big plays the first time we played them, and we thought we'd have those opportunities, but they wanted to take those away and open up the running lane. Just kind of pick your poison type of thing."

When you got bent back awkwardly, there was a little gasp in the press box, but you were okay obviously?

"Yeah, scary moment. But, the brace held up again. Knock on wood."

You've been to Super Bowls. So, what can you tell the guys that haven't been to Super Bowls what to expect? And are you going to have to lay down a standard for the next couple of weeks?

"This first week is where you really have to take advantage of it. Because once you get down there to Miami, in this case, it's a crazy week down there. So, got to take advantage of this first week and get ahead of the other team."

The last Super Bowl with the Patriots, you were the backup. Obviously, it's a little different now. What does that mean for you personally, within the context of the team thing?

"It's just, starting back with the ACL and everything, since then it's been crazy. It's been a crazy whirlwind of a ride. And nowhere else I'd rather be than in a dogfight with than with those guys in the locker room. Great group to be with, everyone pulling together and everyone tight together. Just a great group, it really is."

Do you think Mostert's rise is kind of emblematic of the guys on the roster and the team in general where he's come from and where he is now?

"I guess so. Throughout the entire year, guys would get hurt, other guys would come in, plug themselves in, we wouldn't really miss a beat. It's just that's the type of team we have."

Backstory on the shirt that TE George Kittle has autographed by you. Is that available at the 49ers team store? I mean in Miami we could sell cases of those. What's the story?

"I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything. He had to get me back a little bit. But, I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we'll get them in the team store soon."

Talk a little bit about how your skill players are so enthusiastic about blocking. That's pretty unusual.

"Yeah, it's a good group of guys. Just, I mean, with only eight pass attempts, and they're no different on the sideline than they were when we were in New Orleans playing the ball all over the place. When you have a group like that, it makes it tough to beat and fun to be around."

DL Arik Armstead

How does it feel to be going to the Super Bowl?

"It is amazing. It means a lot to us, especially going through all of the adversity that we went through over the past couple of years. To be going to the Super Bowl and have the chance to be the top of the league is amazing."

It has been a career year for you. Did you see this happening in your future or did this kind of culminate in a perfect way for you?

"I have always believed in myself, but being a part of this team and around these guys has been so special for me this year. We enjoy being around each other so much and playing together, we have a lot of fun out there and you can't take that for granted."

How did it feel to have your family out there on the field with you to witness this season? How special was that?

"It's amazing, being from Sacramento. It is just a short drive, there are a lot of Niners fans there as well. To be able to rep Sacramento and have my family here close by, going to the Super Bowl, it is amazing."

Does this feel like a long way from Pleasant Grove high school?

"Yes. A lot has happened over the past seven years. To be at this point in my career on this team, you look back at everything you went through to get here, it is amazing."

DL Nick Bosa

Tell us about the game today. Seems like initially you tried to do the same thing against Green Bay that you did in that November game to make them one dimensional. Early on it felt like you were doing that?

"Yes. You have to bring some exotic pressures on him. They have a really good O-line in pass protection so you have to do a couple things to mix it up. I am glad that we got that lead in the first half because [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron Rodgers is dangerous. I am just happy to be moving on."

On the other side of the ball, they threw the ball eight times and you have 160 rushing yards at halftime. That just says they were able to do what they wanted to do.

"Our O-line, [49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan], obviously, our tight ends how they block, I mean we dealt with it in camp so we know. It is just an unbelievable offense. It is so nice to have a team that runs the ball like that."

Now you are heading back to where you grew up to play the Super Bowl. Can you express how that feels?

"I don't think that it has hit me yet. I'm going to see my family and I'm sure it will hit me then. I am going home so I am excited."

DL DeForest Buckner

Did you know that you guys would have this type of success up front against the Packers?

"Yeah, watching film, just going over the course of the season, you could see the teams that got after them, they came out successful. And so, we just knew kind of like we did last time, Week 12, we've got to get after them early. And we knew they were going to come out with energy and come out giving us their best and everything, but we had to shut it down early. We didn't want to let them have confidence early. I think we did a really good job with that, stopping the run early and getting after [Green Bay Packers QB] Aaron [Rodgers] a little bit. Especially in the first half, you could tell he was frustrated."

Tell us about the chemistry of this team. A lot of people look at that as being one of the key ingredients. What is it internally with those guys that allow that?

"I think you go back to OTAs, man. We all knew we could be a special group, a special team this year. And just seeing the guys work, work through a lot of things from OTAs, to training camp and preseason. The guys just fed off of each other, you know what I mean? Offense, defense special teams, everybody. We've got a lot of selfless guys playing for each other. That's the key ingredient being able to play for your brother next to you, no matter what happens. Doesn't matter who gets the stats or anything. We're just trying to go out there and win football games and I think we have a really special group."

Maybe stating the obvious, but getting healthy like you guys did on defense and the time off, how much do you feel you're getting back to the dominant group, is there still more sealing to it?

"That Bye Week was key. Getting the Number 1 seed, having home field advantage, all of it, it was a key ingredient for our success. Having the guys back that came back from injury who are out the majority of the year, having them back, it brings that chemistry back in and also the dominance. And even for the guys that played a lot, we could really get our legs back under us and everything. The ceiling's high with this team, you know what I mean? Just seeing the guys going in and out every single play grinding it out, you know what I mean? Whether we're up by a lot or down, guys find a way to win, and do their jobs."

You've been a part of this franchise from some of the darkest days the last few years, with that kind of perspective, what is it like to reach this point?

"Yeah, it means a lot, you know what I mean? It's a slim amount of us that's been here since my rookie year, but obviously you see the new coaching staff, they trusted us in our abilities moving forward. And just to see the team that they brought together, we knew it wasn't going to be overnight, it was going to take time. And we had a lot of injuries the past couple of years that set us back. And just to see the grit in the team even when we were losing, guys came out every day ready to work. Nobody was pointing fingers. That's when I knew we had a lot of special guys in the room. Nobody's pointing fingers, blaming each other for anything. Everybody was owning up and trying to see what they could do to help the team get better. You could see it over the course of this season, guys stepping up. Guys getting benched and not complaining about it, just trying to see what they can do to help the team. You could see it throughout the entire course of the season. It's been unbelievable."

What are your impressions about Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, they have so many different weapons and how you guys will match up?

"Patrick Mahomes, the dude is a star. He was the league MVP last year for a reason. And to see them come back, what was it, 24-0 last week in the playoff game -- the guy's special. The guys around him are special. They've got a lot of talent and a lot of speed and we've got to figure out a way on defense to slow that down."

With your fumble recovery, when did you realize that the ball was out and waiting for somebody?

"Kind of initially. The ball was hiked and everything, and all of a sudden I saw something drop by my feet and I looked down and saw the ball was down. So, I jumped on it. I thought it was in the middle of everybody, and nobody touched me or anything. I was like, 'oh, nobody touched me, I'm going to try to get up' and Nick was like, get up, Buck, get up. I got up, tried to run. He was like, get down, get down. I just wanted to make sure I had the ball. I was at the right place at the right time."

When your offense is doing what it did today moving the ball, how much pride do you take as a defense turning over the ball and getting it back to them?

"We want to get the ball back in their hands as quickly as possible, whether it's three-and-out or a turnover. To do that most part of the game, especially the first half when they were rolling, it's just great to see. It gets you hyped on the sideline, especially when they're just running the ball. As a defensive guy, when the offense is running the ball, you know, against your will, I mean it's demoralizing, especially when you know it's coming. And it's a big congrats and kudos to those guys on offense. The O-line, receivers, tight ends, they all were blocking their tails off."

Everybody has aspirations to go to the Super Bowl. When did you know that this team was special, this team had a chance to actually get to the Super Bowl?

"Training camp. Just to see all the guys working in training camp, the chemistry we were building on all aspects of the ball, offense, defense, special teams. You could just see the chemistry and just knowing that the guys we had in the room that could play at a high level and that were really selfless and really team guys. Training camp was when I could see, if we could just focus, take it one week at a time, there's no doubt in my mind we could make it to this point."

There's a difference between goals and expectations. Was this an expectation to get here?

"It was a goal, expectation, whatever you want to call it. Just knowing that we have one more game to be the best in the world, we have to take advantage of that opportunity."

DL Dee Ford

How were you guys able to be successful by bringing pressure against Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers?

"Stay focused. Do what we got to do. It is very simple if we play together we dominate. We took that same mentality and we didn't need to do anything different."

How much have you rejuvenated this defense during the playoffs?

"I was blessed that I was able to come back and add a little bit of pressure and play great on first and second down and help my team win. For the other guys to not play so many snaps so we can keep that thing rolling. It is a great opportunity for me and we capitalized on it."

How does this game typify what you guys have done to other teams all season?

"It is the epitome of this whole season. We just play together, and we are clicking, it is a fun thing to watch."

Are you looking forward to the match up against your old team the Kansas City Chiefs?

"Definitely there is a lot of love in that building. I have a lot of love for the guys in that building. They gave me my opportunity of course. I am here with a new team. It is going to be a great opportunity it is going to be like playing my brothers back to training camp days. It is going to be fun."

LB Dre Greenlaw

Can you talk about what this season has meant for you?

"Once I got the opportunity, I just made the it last, made it happen so it is just a testament to the guys in the fifth round that they can go out here and work and that they can get it done too. Just because you get drafted in the fifth round, undrafted or first round, it doesn't matter. If you get an opportunity give it all that you got and put it on the line. Your preparation takes care of everything. If you go out there and prepare and give it your all good things will come for those that work hard."

What was it like to see 49ers CB Richard Sherman get that interception at the end?

"It was awesome, he looked like a receiver on that play. I am glad that he made up for it. The deep ball got him before that one but he is a captain on our team and we know that you can't get Richard too many times. You can't get him for long so we knew that with the time being left and what they needed to do. We knew that they needed to go down the field. He was right there and he made the play and brought us to victory. I am excited to play with a guy of that caliber. He is a legend. I have been watching Richard since I was a young kid and to be able to play with a guy like that. Not only that but to be able to look up to a guy like that and he look back at you and say good job, you played great and it is just a blessing come true."

What was the key to the first half? You were able to bottle up their offense.

"We knew their game plan. We knew what they wanted to do. Credit to the coaches and the players all week for just buying in and understanding what they were trying to do. The personnel that we have and the personnel that they have and understanding football. They did a great job coming back in the second half with some plays and change it up a little bit and go a little deeper. We just came out swarming and credit to them for coming out in the second half and adjusting."

TE George Kittle

Can you explain the shirt?

"Remember when Jimmy had a T-shirt with my face in his locker and he told everyone I sent it to him. I got this in my locker the same day. I just didn't show you guys because I was saving it for a special occasion. I think it's pretty good. He even signed it."

Does this qualify as a special occasion?

"Yeah, I guess."

What's your feeling--?

"Obviously, it hasn't hit me yet. I'm pretty excited. I think tonight's going to be pretty fun. But, I'm just so happy. I mean ever since my rookie year, just the hard work, [49ers head] coach [Kyle] Shanahan, just the three years of every single day. He always talks to us about how we're this close, just have to get over it. It all finally came to. And this whole season, ups and downs, we had injuries left and right. We had guys step up when they needed to from [OL Justin] Skule to [OL Daniel] Brunskill -- to our defense, [S] Marcell [Harris], [LB Dre] Greenlaw. We had guys everywhere stepping up the entire season. And, when we get to finish it on something like that where, I don't know, how many rushes did we have?"


"That's awesome. I could have gone for 50. But, do the kneels count?"

It's 45 with the kneels.

"45 then. But, it's just so fun to see [RB] Raheem [Mostert] do something like that. Just such a special player and he finally gets to show it."

When did you get the feeling that Raheem was going to have such a big impact, when did you kind of sense that?

"I mean whether it's special teams or offense, the way he hits the hole, he gets so vertical so fast. And, I think defenses, they underestimate his speed. You can just see it. He'll hit a hole and the guy will take what he thinks is a good angle. And, next thing you know, he's by him. Doesn't even touch him. And, his 0 to 60 is literally in two steps and it's so special, especially with our offense. The way we do outside zone, inside zone, he can make one cut and get vertical. It's all we need."

T Mike McGlinchey

How about the atmosphere here at Levi's Stadium?

"It was incredible. The faithful have been showing up all year. They have proven once we put something good in front of them, they are some of the best fans in the NFL. We have felt it really, really strong the last five or six home games. Today was even more so. It was incredible from start to finish. I don't think there was an empty seat in the house even when we were having our awards ceremony, which says a lot."

Is it an offensive lineman's dream to block for running back with the performance he had today?

"It is unbelievable. It is the team [GM] John [Lynch] and [Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] built, we have weapons all over the place, it doesn't matter who is up or who is down. We have guys all over the place that are capable of taking over football games. [RB] Raheem [Mostert] is the biggest proof of that."

There was talk all week it was going to be different than it was the first time around, was there a feeling all week that this kind of domination was possible again?

"I think so. I think every time we take the field that is our goal and that is our mindset. I know we are missing some guys to season ending injuries, but our 53 is fully healthy right now and when we have all of our weapons, it is really hard to beat us. In the last two weeks it has been really hard to even stay with us, so that is really cool."

RB Raheem Mostert

A couple weeks ago you said it's all surreal, you're still trying to take it all in. What is the feeling now?

"Still surreal. You know, I just -- I can't believe that I'm in this position right now and I did the things that I did tonight. And I would like to thank God first and foremost for blessing not only myself but everybody in the organization to be in the position that we're in, to get the win and to move on to Miami, my home state. And I can't believe it. I'm still being able to play at my home state. This is so surreal right now."

You started your career bouncing around a lot of teams. When you look back at these last few years since you left Purdue, what pops in your head now that you're at this moment?

"You know, I did have a lot of doubters and naysayers, and now I get to actually tell them look at where I'm at now. I never gave up on my dream. I never gave up on the opportunities when it presented itself. And I always worked hard no matter what. And it's crazy that I've been on seven different teams. I actually still have the cut dates. And I look at that before every game. I look at the cut dates when I got cut. I've been on, like I said, seven different teams. The journey's been crazy. Not even -- not everybody can deal with that type of stress and pain and agony that I went through. But like I said, I kept the faith in not only myself but whoever gave me the opportunity. And this organization has done a great job with that."

We talked a lot about your speed obviously. Can you just describe the vision that you see on the field where you see these lanes that really help you out?

"You know, this scheme that we run, the outside zone and inside zone, it's been working for years. Even back when Mike Shanahan was the head coach in Denver and even in Washington. The philosophy still transpires into what we run today. And you have to have vision in order to read the holes and read the gaps, and I worked on it. Coming in I didn't really run an offense like that coming out of college. I was running more of the shotgun runs and sweeps and all that type of stuff. That's what I was basically known for, especially with my speed it's a little bit easier. But having to transition into gap scheme and reading holes one at a time, it took a little bit longer to work out, but it pays off once you get to it."

Did you know that you were getting close to Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson's playoff record for a single game?

"No, I did not. Truthfully for you to even say that now is like -- I'm still shocked. I can't believe that. Eric Dickerson is the ultimate running back. He's a guy I look up to, even all the other running backs, even with [Former RB] Frank Gore, to even be mentioned with somebody like [Hall of Fame RB] Eric Dickerson, that's unbelievable."

Your stats, did you have any idea how many yards -- did you ever look up and say wow?

"I looked up here and there but it was one of those things my main focus was to finish the game and help my teammates out as best as I can, especially in that three-minute situation. I missed a bad read on one of the plays. I know I'm going to have to look at that tomorrow and correct it, but it's one of those things where I just, I don't know, I just got to work on it."

When RB Tevin Coleman was being carted off the field, you stopped by the cart and had an exchange. What did you say to him and what did he say back to you?

"What I said to him was, you know, we're brothers and I'm going to have your back no matter what, we're all going to have your back especially in the running back room, because, like I said, we're brothers. It goes way more than what people see. It's not, okay, him versus me versus [RB] Matt [Breida], versus [RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.]. It's we're all together. We're all in this together. And that's why I wanted to let him know, hey, I got your back. IGYB. That's our motto in the room. He looked at me and he said: I know you do. And then they took him off. Like I said, when I scored that following play, I threw up the "2-6" for him because I wanted him to know, hey, I told you I got your back no matter what. I know he has my back."

One thing I believe three teams in the preseason, you never got discouraged to the point to saying I can't make it or -- you just kept coming back?

"I was a little discouraged in 2015 at the end of that year. I was with the Browns. My wife, she's from Cleveland. So, we thought that we had something in the bag, me making the roster. And then coming into training camp, preseason, had a little bit of an injury so I missed the last preseason game that year. And I thought I was on the roster. I made the roster, the 53-man roster. And then celebrated with my family. And then the next day I got cut. And so, having me go through that, it just made me stronger. I got immune to being cut. And I just wanted -- I wanted to show the world what I can do. And honestly it was just one of those things where I really had a talk with my wife and I was saying, what do you think should happen after that cut? And she basically said, hey, if you love your job, if you love this sport, you will do anything for it. And if you love what you do, you would do anything for it. And that was my philosophy from here on out."

When Head Coach Kyle and General Manager John came in in 2016, they held over a lot of guys, but they were highly drafted guys, do you remember the first conversation you had with Kyle and/or John when they came in here, and what led to you sticking around?

"You know, they basically told me that, hey, look, you know how it goes, just everybody's going to clean house, have their own guys come in and stuff like that. And they talked to me and they basically said, hey, look, we believe in you; we're going to give you opportunity but it's up to you how you want to spend that opportunity. And I took that to heart because like I said I was already on six different teams. And it was one of those things I was just like, hey, look, if they believe in me like they say they do, and I know they're a man of their word, and all I've got to do is show up and show out. And that's what I was able to do. And here I am today on this podium, just won the NFC Championship. And I did what I did out there. Like I said, I've got to thank them first and foremost for allowing me to be in a position I am in right now."

When was the last time you ran for 220 and four TDs?

"The last time was about like, what, 30 minutes ago. [Laughter].

I meant before today.

"Never, honestly."

High school?

"High school. No, I didn't even get it in high school like that. I was a receiver coming out. And I made that transition to running back my junior year of college. After that, honestly, maybe against Illinois 2014, had 100 like 15 rushes on like six carries, something like that, two touchdowns. That was probably like my biggest game."

When you came here, even when you found a team that, as you said, believed in you, were there times early on here where you thought I'm a good special teams player and that's my role in the NFL, that's what I'll be?

"Even back in college my freshman year I led the nation in kickoff return average. And it was one of those things where I knew I had a knack for special teams and, yeah, I knew that if I was going to make it in this league I'd have to take care of special teams. And every coach -- I still talk to coaches on opposing teams and they tell me, hey, look, man, I'm sorry what happened to you. Sorry, it goes a long with me but at the same time I'm in the position I'm in because of you, for you believing in me and ultimately me believing in myself. And I knew I had to come in, special teams, once John and Kyle had got hired, I knew I had to play a role and contribute on teams in order to make the roster. And it didn't stop there for me. I wanted more."

WR Deebo Samuel

Offensively, you guys didn't score on that first drive, but on the next drive you pull in a pass over a defender and then you guys continued to will yourself on them. What about that play got it going?

"All it takes is one play for our team, as you can see. I just make the plays and then they come our way, no matter who's passing or who's running. You just have to go out there and execute like we're supposed to do."

You guys weren't passing the ball too much today with only eight passes. What was that like to go out there and spring 49ers RB Raheem Mostert and all those guys for the long runs with your blocking?

"I mean, I think our mentality is, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' I ain't got no problem going out there and being scrappy with the defense and blocking for the running back. They do it for us when we have a pass thrown down."

When you see your running back Raheem Mostert go for 200-plus yards on the ground, what was that like?

"Man, it was crazy. It seemed like every run he did, he was about to score every time. I was just out there going crazy. It was an amazing feeling."

When did you realize that you guys kind of imposed yourself on them. It seemed like by the second quarter that you guys had them right where you wanted them.

"Everybody was just engaged. We could feel the energy. I don't even know how to explain the feeling right now."

WR Emanuel Sanders

Talk how the team can when any way, you only through the ball eight times?

"Yes, I only had one target, and I'm not upset with that. I told myself, if I'm not going to get the ball, I might as well go out here and be a bully. I kind of turned into a bully, I started to enjoy blocking. Sometimes I actually like that aspect of it. When they brought me over here, they knew what is in my heart. They know I am going to be an incredible teammate and I am going to do whatever I have to do to help this team win. If it is going in and blocking, and if it is playing special teams, whatever I got to do, I am here to help."

You talked a lot about how loose you guys were coming into this, everybody relaxed, does that allow you guys to play free?

"I know we were going to play free. When you know who you are you don't have to panic, you don't have to stress, you don't have to worry about the pressure. Even last night I slept like a baby. This morning when I woke up it just felt like another regular season game, even though I knew the magnitude of the game. I think that is just confidence in the Coach [Kyle Shanahan], the GM [John Lynch], and my brothers, and myself. We still have to go out there and win it. Miami is going to be fun, but at the same time we going there and it is a business trip."

CB Richard Sherman

Another game-sealing interception in the NFC Championship.


Walk us through the moment?

"They ran a corner post. We were in quarters. I just kept running. I knew it wasn't necessarily my responsibility, but I knew he was going to take the shot there and go for the gusto. Just wanted to track the ball down, give us a chance. I was tracking. I thought it was kind of out of my reach for a while. I was going to go for the bat down. And, as I got my feet under me, I noticed I could get under it and I was able to do it."

What makes this so special for you? Seems like you're pretty emotional. And why are you guys so special?

"It's a long road. And, there's a lot of work that goes into it. A lot of things that you don't see, a lot of unspoken things, a lot of work away from the cameras. You guys see the games. You don't see the hours and hours of work. The hours and hours of study. The hours and hours of treatment, pain, overcoming pain. The nights at home you don't even get to spend with your kids because you're trying to get your knee back or hamstring back or your back. And your kids sitting there rubbing on you trying to make you feel better. People don't understand the sacrifice that goes into being great at this game. They see the games and they're like they won or lost, but regardless, guys sacrifice. Those guys in Green Bay, they put a lot of sacrifice into it throughout the season. They deserve to be there. They earned their right to be there. And no matter what, win, lose, draw, you sacrifice. You give up your body and your time and your health and your mind. You're usually somewhere between going psychotic and you're locked in, you know what I mean? Because, it's such a crazy edge you've got to be on. That's why it's a little emotional. You get to appreciate it a little more."

You guys won games a lot of different ways this year but in the postseason since you got back to the complementary thing, what's it about this style with the defense and the run game that works so well in the postseason?

"It's just [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [defensive coordinator Robert] Saleh. They designed this thing perfectly. People sit there and say, "Oh, well, you don't have a great back.' We have a stable of great backs. 'You don't have a great receiver.' We have four great receivers, five great receivers, you know what I mean? We have great tight end play. It's about people fitting in your system, fitting in what you do. And, I think that's sometimes where people get confused. They're, like, 'Oh, my God, these guys have All-Pros here and All-Pros there.' That's for the media, you know what I mean? If you could pick the perfect people for what Kyle does, you'd pick the guys we've got. And that's over just about anybody in the league. And you can see why. Raheem still playing special teams, he ran for 200 in the NFC Championship. There's a ton of elite backs that have come through this league and played in big games. I can't remember a back going for that much. And he's unheralded, but he's perfect for this scheme. He's perfectly built and designed to do what Kyle needs him to do. And for some people -- another scheme he may not be effective, he may be a regular Joe. But in this, he's one of the best backs in this league. And, that's what you can appreciate that Kyle and [general manager] John [Lynch] and Saleh and [special teams coordinator Richard] Hightower, they picked the guys they wanted specifically. They were very specific about their wants and needs. [WR] Deebo Samuel, could he do what he's doing in this offense in another offense? Who knows? But, that's why Kyle picked him. He knew what he was looking for and what he wanted him to do and he was thriving."

Did you creep up on them by playing more on the right side there?

"I did what my coach told me to do. Plan was to play over there for a few series to just give them something to think about and then go back to our normal status quo defense. I think it worked. There were a few plays where they ran double moves, where I think they wanted me to be on the other side and I was on that side. And, there were plays where I think we confused them just with where we were on the field and how I was moving. But, it was fun. It's always fun to play and mix it up a little bit."

We asked Jimmy Ward how long he was going to wait before he started looking ahead to Kansas City and Patrick Mahomes and I thought he would say 24 hours. He said tonight. Go home and watch it tonight. Did you expect that kind of outlook from you guys?

"Guys aren't just happy to be here. Guys are playing to win. So, guys are going to treat it like a game they're trying to win. And, they're not sitting here like, 'My God, let's celebrate we're in the Sugar Bowl.' Why go if you're not trying to win? We're going to prepare for a great opponent. They have a prolific offense, a great quarterback, a great trio of receivers, a good back, a good O-Line. We have a huge challenge and we look forward to that. You would have it no other way, a great offense, a great team. We're looking forward to the challenge."

Was there a level of confidence that you matched up well with the Packers?

"Yeah, there was a ton of confidence. We took our starters out in the fourth quarter of that game. It could have been worse. We knew that. I think they were trying to pump themselves up, hype themselves up out there, talking about a revenge game like they weren't coming in with an advantage into that game. We were coming off of a battle with Seattle and they were coming off a Bye. So, saying pay back and saying, 'When you stay ready you don't gotta get ready.' They were trying to hype themselves up. Like, man, we're going to be ready this time. You weren't ready the first time, and that was in front of the whole country. It was a Sunday Night game, not just a middle-of-the-day 1 o'clock game. And it bothered us. They're, like, 'Oh, my God, we're going to be ready this time.' Like, do you not take the game seriously? When do we not take games seriously in the regular season? If you won that one, you would have had the 1 seed. We would have been going to Green Bay. But, it wasn't that big a deal. You were going to be ready for this time. Story for a different day."

Could you talk about the balance between the fun that everybody has in the locker room versus this seriousness that happens on the field?

"Yeah, I mean we keep it fun. We keep it loose. There were a few people that came in our locker room for the first time throughout the week and they were like, 'Man, this is the loosest locker room.' You would think this is a winning team. But, that's the difference. That's the difference when you're confident, when you know what you're playing for, when you know what you're doing, when you're locked in. You don't have to sit there serious and worry and sit there with anxiety. You can enjoy, let your hair down because you know you're putting the work in. You put the work in every single day and you're prepared. Now, when you're not prepared and you're nervous, you sit there locked in, quiet. No music in the locker room. Let's be locked in. But, that's not our team. We have a bunch of guys who enjoy this game and play it in a way that brings us a lot of joy, the receiving corps especially. They're a fun group and they're enjoying the ride, but they're still locked in. They're making huge plays."

What perspective can you put on being back on the big stage, personally for yourself, and for your team to carry forth to Miami?

"It's always awesome to fight hard and everybody wants to be standing at the end. But, it doesn't matter unless you win the game. It could be the best day in your life if you win. It can be the worst day if you lose. That's the perspective that I'll keep putting through to these guys, somebody who has been there who has won and lost. We've got to put in the work. It's not a holiday. It's not a vacation. I'm sure it will be good for the families. It will be cool for everybody's experience, get their phones out, get the Instagram videos and all that. But at the end of the day, it's going to be a challenging game and it's going to be a dogfight."

Do you think -- you mentioned about respect last week. Do you think after today's victory, does the respect increase? Where is it at now?

"No, I don't think the respect increases. I think we've got to go out there and win one more and even then, I don't know if the respect will be there, but doesn't matter. You get the trophy."

T Joe Staley

You have been on this road before, what makes this team more special than the past?

"This is like everybody coming to work. The attitude that everybody has every single day. There are no egos. Everybody generally pulls for each other. No one cares about what credit that they get. [49ers QB] Jimmy [Garoppolo] doesn't care if he throws for 300 yards or what did he pass today for 50-60? He doesn't care and same with the running backs. [49ers TE George] Kittle is a superstar and he could care less about his stats. Top to bottom everybody just wants to pull for each other and win. It is just a special bunch."

When the touchdown was scored you and 49ers T Mike McGlinchey broke into a dance.

"Yes. I don't know what that was. I saw that on the screen afterwards. I didn't even remember doing that. I was just pumped."

How much fun was that for you guys?

"We didn't think it was going to happen again because we have been running the ball 47 times the week before, that is pretty rare in the NFL. We felt like we were able to control the game in the run game. The offensive line was coming off the ball really well, running backs were hitting it, and as long as they weren't stopping it, we just were going to continue with it."

Can you explain what this team has become?

"We are a team that can win any kind of way. We have proven that throughout the season. We have had a game where we had to score 48 points to win on the road in New Orleans against a really good New Orleans Saints team. We had a game where we had 47 and 42 rushes in the playoffs. We can do anything and our defense is smothering. We play really great team football. Our special teams have been playing solid all year. This is a really hard team to play against and hard to beat."

DL Solomon Thomas

It's real simple to say this, but much harder to do, to make a team one-dimensional like you guys did with the Vikings last week with the big lead. It felt like that's what you guys went out, and when the game was on the line, you guys did that defensively.

"Our plan was to come out and overwhelm them defensively. We didn't want them to run the ball or get into their game plan, and we did that. Our work in practice, our preparation with film, all of that paid off."

On the other side of the ball, I know that's not what you're doing firsthand, but when you've got a running back going 160 yards in the first half, and your quarterback throws the ball six times in the first half, that just says a lot, doesn't it?

"Our O-line, our receivers, our quarterback, running backs, [49ers RB Raheem Mostert], they played lights out. They work their tail off every day. There's a reason why they performed the way that they did. [Head Coach Kyle Shanahan] made a game plan, it all paid off and it worked out. This team is amazing, and we're going to continue to be amazing."

It feels like the scary thing about this team is that you guys have won so many different ways that the minute that they think there is some character about you, you guys show up with something different coming for the Super Bowl.

"We know how to win a game. We've played in close games, games where we're down, games where we're up, high scoring games, low scoring games, crazy weather games, normal weather. We know how to win in any circumstance. We know how to win against the biggest teams, and the biggest team is in a couple of weeks, so we have to go out there and win that."

You guys have a little downtime for fun and then you have to start thinking about Super Bowl LIV.

"We're going to enjoy this one for 24 hours and then back to preparation. We've got to get back to getting ready for the Chiefs."

LB Fred Warner

Will the injury prevent you from playing?

"We'll see. See the trainers. No, I'm playing."

What is it the feeling like when it's almost there?

"It's still kind of surreal. I mean the stuff this team's gone through, this organization, it's special. This is the pinnacle of football right here. And for me to experience this as early in my career as I'm going to be, it's a loss for words."

Can you kind of describe the feeling when you know Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is sitting back there throwing a ton of darts and trying to stage a comeback, what's your feeling when you're trying to defend that?

"Just trying to eliminate big plays, just trying to get him to check the ball down short so we can rally. But that's one of the best to ever do it. He kept his team in the game. Much respect to Aaron and the Packers. They've had an outstanding season, but I think we out-executed today."

Past couple of weeks you guys have gotten healthy on defense. How much do you feel you're back to where you were, maybe even better than where you were?

"Yeah, health, that's huge. Having everybody back, you kind of see the result of that. I feel we could have been so much cleaner today in a lot of areas. We had a great first half shutting them out. But trying to stay on top of it, we'll be back to work tomorrow."

Looking forward to digging into Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, or are you going to let that happen in a couple of days?

"For sure we're looking forward to it. Our mindset all season was we expected to be here. And we are going to enjoy tonight and get back to work tomorrow."

You've gone against them last year. What were your initial thoughts, takeaways from that game?

"A lot of speed on that offense. They have a lot of playmakers. Obviously, Patrick Mahomes is outstanding, a great talent. And so we'll have our hands full for sure."

CB Emmanuel Moseley got the big early interception. How big was that in terms of setting a tone, and what do you think about his journey as an undrafted guy?

"Yeah, man, just super happy for him. That's my guy. We came in together. And he's had to scratch and claw his way into the role he has now. And, I mean, I got so much respect for him, the way he comes to work day in and day out, making the big play in the biggest moment to get our team that momentum. Can't say any more about him. The guy's outstanding. We're going to keep riding."

You probably haven't gone against RB Raheem Mostert since training camp. What's it like when he's running outside like that and you have to go to the sideline and try to beat him to that spot?

"Me and him are about the same speed. So pretty easy. No, I mean, the dude is- it's just so crazy to think about. I don't know every little detail about his journey, but I know it's a tough one. The fact that he's come out and been the type of player he's been throughout his career, but especially this year, the dude has world-class speed. And he showcases that every game day."

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