GREEN BAY PACKERS QUARTERBACK AARON RODGERS:
Time of possession was obviously a problem, do you agree?
What does it feel like to lose a game like this?
“Well, it’s pretty frustrating, put a lot into this. Now I stand here and you realize that this is the last time that group is going to be together. It will be a different team next year. There will be additions, subtractions and that’s the most frustrating part. You spend a lot of time with those guys, you care about them, you care about this a lot and then to go out there and play like that it’s disappointing.”
How would you assess your performance on offense?
“We didn’t do enough on offense. We could have helped our defense out a little bit. They had a couple extra possessions there because of the punt return fumble and then the pick six. So our defense probably got a little tired out there but the second half we had a chance to run right into it. The touchdown there on the first possession would have put us in a good situation but came up short.”
On the deep ball to WR Jordy Nelson, on the post, what did you see on that play?
“Well the protection was really good I found most of the night and was just hanging in the pocket he was running the post. He said he was thinking I was going to get out of the pocket with starting flat and I was thinking he was going to take a high angle and that’s what happens when you’re not on the same page.”
I don’t know if you talked about this, but this is your first game as a player at Candlestick?
Second, there was excitement because of the fact that you are coming back home and all that?
“No, not really.”
How did you feel at half time?
“Yeah, we felt good. You know we gift wrapped them 14 points on two turnovers. In the game our defense was doing alright and in the second half we just didn’t score any points.”
Did you think this was a team that was going to win it all?
“This team? Yeah definitely.”
What was your impression of the QB Colin Kaepernick?
“He was running all over the field. He’s big, strong, athletic, throws the ball well and runs the ball extremely well. We didn’t really have a whole lot of answers for him.”
How are you feeling when it was 31-24 and getting the ball, and feeling like this is going to be a track meet back and forth between the teams?
“Yeah, we knew we’re going to have to score some points. I’m disappointed we couldn’t get any on that first drive of the second half, but we were able to come back and get a field goal and they go down and score and we knew that we probably were going to have to put up 38 points at least to win the game.”
GREEN BAY PACKERS CORNERBACK CASEY HAYWARD:
How did they game plan you? Were you hurt by an over-aggressive defense?
“I have to go back and watch the film. I don’t quite know. They played a real good game.”
You’ve had a really impressive rookie year. Now that’s it’s come to a finish, how do you feel about your season?
“I felt I did well. But week-in and week-out, our ultimate goal is the Super Bowl. But we fell short by a couple of games.”
Was it a question of you guys were there, but [QB Colin] Kaepernick made good plays despite good defense? Or was there anything scheme-wise?
“Probably all. He played good. They schemed us on some calls. But we missed some calls and plays as well.”
Did this game play a little too close to home like the way the first game played out?
“They just came out and hit us in the mouth. They just beat us tonight.”
GREEN BAY PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER GREG JENNINGS:
The time of possession did not work in your favor the first half. In the second half was it just hard to get anything sustained?
“We lost to a better team today. We established the momentum early with the interception and then we let them back in the game early. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. They came out in the second half and did whatever they wanted to do.”
This must sting because you guys know how good you are.
“We could say that for several years; ’07,’09, last year, and this year. It wasn’t meant to be. We lost to a better team today.”
Do you think about your future now that this game is over?
“It has been great. I love this organization. The reality is that there will probably be some changes made. Hopefully I stay here. If not I am ready to move wherever. It is what it is, I am not naïve to that. I am being a realist. I love this organization I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. If I have to that is what I have to do.
GREEN BAY PACKERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE B.J. RAJI:
What made it so hard to contain Colin Kaepernick today?
“You have to tip your hat sometimes when a guy like that at the quarterback position is consistently out running and flanking your defense and making huge plays.”
How tough is a loss like this to swallow?
“It is real tough. We have one goal every year and that is to win the Super Bowl. Obviously that won’t be the case this year. Sometimes that is life and you have to move on.”
This is the second year in a row that there has been a disappointment like this, how tough is it the second time around?
“It is tough. It never gets easy, especially when you are a Green Bay Packer. A lot is expected of you. In a season like this for the second year in a row it is definitely painful. Hopefully we will learn from this and we will be a better team next year.”
Third down was huge for the 49ers. What was it that they were doing that kept them on the field?
“It was either [WR Michael] Crabtree on a dink pass, or [QB Colin] Kaepernick running for necessary yardage or more. That is a frustrating thing.”
Why is Colin Kaepernick so difficult to defend?
“When the quarterback can run like that, it opens up the arsenal for the play calling. Obviously, if you can’t stop the run which is football 101, then it is going to be tough to stop the play action and the deep routes.”
GREEN BAY PACKERS WIDE RECEIVER JEREMY ROSS:
What happened on the muffed punt?
“I started focusing on the pressure that was coming. I was looking at the ball all the way in, but I was more focused on the peripheral, just kind of seeing and feeling it out. I was like when I catch it I have to move quick. I lost my fundamentals by keeping my elbows in tight. The ball just went straight through. ”
Did you have any thought, just forget about what was coming and just make the fair catch?
“I just wanted to make the play. At that moment I was like, I am just going to catch this ball, make this guy miss, and I am going to go for a touchdown. I just wanted to make a big play on that one. I probably should have fair caught it.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS HEAD COACH JIM HARBAUGH:
What’d you think about that performance from your team?
“Thought it was a great team performance, great team victory. Highlight the special teams where we got the big turnover. The coverage was outstanding. [S] C.J. Spillman, a bunch of guys – [LB] Tavares Gooden, [LB] Larry Grant, [FB] Bruce Miller, [TE] Delanie Walker, [K] David Akers, [P] Andy Lee, tremendous job there. Defensively we got the great interception, got stops, which is really tough to do against this offense. Offensively, thought we played great. [QB] Colin [Kaepernick] had a great game. Just excellent team performance.”
What did you say to Colin after that pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown to get him back going again?
“Just that there was a lot of football left. He does a great job of responding. He has done that. Every time there’s been an interception that he’s thrown, or safety or turnover. He’s responded with a scoring drive. I think that’s rare. I think that’s a rare quality. And so far he’s shown that he’s got that ability to come back.”
Why is that such a rare quality do you think?
“I don’t know. I have no statistics to back it up, or evidence. Just a feeling that it’s hard for a quarterback after throwing an interception to respond with a touchdown-scoring drive, especially. I don’t think that happens very often. But, it happens. He’s consistently done a nice job of just moving on.”
Did the game plan involve getting Kaepernick running? It seemed like that was a huge part of this one. Did you plan for that?
“Yeah, that was in the plan. A lot more pistol formation in this game plan, both handing the ball off and Kap running and play action, where we’re throwing out of it. We’re pretty multi-dimensional on that formation.”
Did you set that up by not doing that very much in the last few regular season games? There didn’t seem to be a lot of read option against Seattle against Arizona?
“It was more prevalent in this plan.”
Can you describe how DT Justin Smith returned today and how he looked?
“He looked good. From my eye it looked like he was stout against the run and his legend grows. What a player.”
When you saw Colin in college, did you sort of picture this? This was what he did, running out of that pistol, 9,000 yards passing, 4,000 running. Did you see a guy doing
this in the pros?
“Well, I obviously saw a lot of great qualities about the young man. And he did a great job throwing the ball and some of the throws he made were outstanding. Our receivers did a heck of a job. [TE] Vernon Davis did a nice job. Everybody was in on it. I thought it was one of our better games offensively.”
How well did WR Michael Crabtree play, and how vital is he to the offense?
“I think it’s pretty well documented how vital he is. Again, he was outstanding. The back-shoulder catches, those are great plays. The catch and runs again. The yards that he gets after the catch. He’s really like a running back when he gets the ball in his hands. And he was outstanding.”
You’ve mentioned that Colin doesn’t even say that much to you when you talk to him. Did he just give you a look in the eye after the interception? Did he say anything to you like, like “hey I got this?” Was there any conversation from him to you?
“No, he just said he understood. I think that’s pretty close to what he said.”
Were you able to see from the sidelines, they showed some replays, it looked like T Joe Staley was doing a pretty good job against LB Clay Matthews when he was lined up on that side? Were you able to notice any of that?
“Yeah, noticed that. I thought our protection was very good. Colin had a chance to go through his reads, set his feet and fire the ball. Consistently good protection all day.”
There was a perception that if you had lost tonight with Colin that your decision to make him the starter would have been a mistake. Were you even thinking, or do you care about that perception?
“No, it’s just a great team victory. I give our players a lot of credit. They had a great week of preparation. They played very poised. I thought they competed like maniacs. And we get another week of work. So, we’ll move on with humble hearts and get ready for our next opponent.”
How did you used to respond after an interception when you were quarterback?
“I don’t know. I hate to be short. I hate to be rude, but what the heck does that have to do with this game?”
Going forward for next week what do you want to see in improvement on the defensive side of the ball? You said you have to go work on some things. What do you want to see for next week?
“Same thing. We want to study for the test. Whoever that is that we’re playing, and have a great week of preparation. And then come out and compete like maniacs. This is that do-or-die, win-or-go-home kind of situation. Such a unique dynamic. So, we’ll do the things that we’ve always tried to do as a team and do them to the best of our God-given ability.”
At what point tonight did you realize your brother had won his game?
“Somewhere in the first quarter, I believe.”
Someone told you from upstairs?
“Yeah, yeah. Congratulations to [Ravens head coach] John [Harbaugh] and the Ravens. That was a real football fight. I had the chance to watch some of it before our game. Feel great for John and his team.”
When you say it was in the game plan for Colin to run, is it just in the read option you’re just telling him think more about running that, than giving it to the running back? Is that the game plan when you want him to run the ball?
“Not necessarily, no. He’s got keys that he’s reading. It’s the read option. It’s a give read, or it’s a pull and run it himself. Sometimes it’s even a pitch it to somebody else decision.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QUARTERBACK COLIN KAEPERNICK:
Your first playoff start and it was just like how I remembered covering you at Nevada. You were flowing out there, can you talk a little bit about that?
“Our offensive line played great today, they did a lot of thing well, up front. Our running backs ran well and our receivers made plays.”
But how about you, you seemed to be just feeling it?
“I mean, it’s a lot easier when other people are making plays. Our offensive line came out, they dominated up front, so that makes it easier on a quarterback.”
What about your feeling after the interception?
“I had to bounce back.”
Were you aware that you broke the NFL record for most rushing yards as a quarterback in any game?
“Not until after the game.”
What does it mean to you?
“It’s a great accolade, I think it means a lot to this team. Our offensive line did an amazing job, our receivers, tight ends and running backs did amazing jobs. They opened up a lot of lanes for me.”
What is it like standing there and listening to your teammates describe you in the way they did?
“It’s great. Any time your teammates have confidence in you and they feel good about what you’re doing, it makes you feel like you’re doing the right things.”
Have you ever rushed for that many yards in a game at any level?
“Not with this much significance.”
Can you describe how the 56-yard touchdown came about and what you saw?
“The end came down, our receivers blocked the corner and the safety. There was nobody else left.”
How well did Michael Crabtree play in particular?
“He played great. He is a key player in this offense. He is a playmaker. He is someone that we want to get the ball into his hands and see what he can do.”
Earlier in the season you talked about how you wouldn’t know until the game if you were in or not. Can you talk about the ride this season?
“It’s been amazing and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
We love to categorize players, he’s a runner, he’s a passer… are you hard to categorize?
“I don’t want to be categorized.”
Coach Harbaugh mentioned that your running was part of the game plan this week. Did you know that a lot of the responsibility was going to be on your legs?
“We had a lot of plays that we put in to utilize that. We also opened up running lanes for our running backs. Frank [Gore] broke a big one, LaMichael [James] was about to break one too. It was just another tool for this offense.”
Are both of those running touchdowns designed runs?
“Not the first one.”
What happened there on the first run?
“Man to man coverage, they doubled Crabtree, broke down and saw a run.”
Were they spying on you at all out there?
“I think a couple of times, a little. For the most part they were trying to double receivers and keep eyes on them.”
How much were they double teaming Crabtree?
“A little here and there. On big downs they were trying to double to make sure he didn’t make a play.”
What was your best pass?
“I couldn’t say.”
Last week Joe Webb of the Vikings had a lot of success running until the game got out of hand. Did you see anything from that game that gave you opportunities against them?
“Yeah, we knew going in that we were going to have some opportunities.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS WIDE RECEIVER MICHAEL CRABTREE:
Your touchdown catches came at a time when you guys really needed to score. What was the first half scoring frenzy like?
“It was a shoot out, you know. We knew those guys could put up points and we just came out ready to play.”
You said that you built off your post season last year, how did it feel to start on a win like this?
“It felt like we were in the same place winning that game. It’s what we do at the next game. It’s all about the next game.”
How about Kaepernick’s performance tonight?
“He’s a guy playing football. He makes it happen with his feet, with his arms. He’s just out there making plays. He is a playmaker.”
Why do you think you two play so well together?
“I couldn’t tell you, it’s just something that happens. We are out there trying to make a play. We both have one goal, to try and win.”
Did Green Bay try to do anything different with you this time and as time went on?
“I saw a couple double teams, especially in the red zone. We have so many players on our team: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Ted Ginn Jr, Randy Moss and our running game. We have too many playmakers for anyone to get double. We have a great team.”
When Colin is running, do you see the defense have to react so much to him and maybe open up some other plays?
“I think it goes both ways. You have to react to everyone on the field. Whether it’s the receivers or running backs coming out of the flat. He does it with his legs so well.”
What was the feeling in here at halftime?
“Just going out here and really trying to finish up the game. Nobody panicked, everyone was on their P’s and Q’s. Everybody knew what they had to do to make the game go. We just went out there and made it happen.”
When Colin throws an interception to start the game, how did you see him react?
“There was no frustration at all. That’s what I was surprised about, he really was in our ear and told us to make a play. I kept telling myself, we need to make a play. I slipped on one play and fell and was mad about that the entire game. I felt like I had to redeem myself, go out there and do my job.”
Last year you said you wanted more opportunities, did you feel like you had something to prove in this game?
“Every playoff game I have something to prove. Last year it was bad, it was what it was. We are on a new year and I’m just trying to make a play and get that win.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CENTER JONATHAN GOODWIN:
On the offense’s performance:
“Colin played great. We had a great game plan and we were able to execute it well. I think those guys had a lot of guys of things coming at them.”
When you stretch things out, it’s kind of hard to zero in on the receivers and watch [QB Colin Kaepernick].
“Yeah, he’s in the gun, he can throw, run or hand it off. A great game plan by G-Ro [offensive coordinator Greg Roman]. I think we did a good job of executing. We kind of got a head start on them with the bye week and I think it showed tonight.”
When you’re blocking, can you tell what’s going on, can you tell if Kaepernick is going to run, is he’s going to throw, escape?
“No, not for me. I’m blocking a certain way and just hoping he’ll make a play.”
Can you tell from the crowd reaction?
“A couple of times I saw [RB] LaMichael [James] run by and I could tell nobody was tackling him, so I knew he didn’t have the ball.”
On Kaepernick’s performance this season:
“The one thing, I’ve said this from day one about Colin, since he started playing, he’s always been confident. When you see a guy that’s playing quarterback in this league that young and he’s that confident, hats off to him.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS RUNNING BACK FRANK GORE:
Is it an adjustment for you running the read option?
“I am a football player. I just adjust to whatever. That is the way to get a “W”, then whatever, I just want to win.”
What was it like for you out there with all that room for running?
“It was fun. Our offensive line did a great job. [QB Colin] Kaepernick did a great job, and our coordinator did a great job.”
What is it like having your quarterback outrushing you?
“It is not the first time. I am not surprised what he did. If that is what it takes to get wins and reach our goal, I am with it.”
The offense had 44 points and you had a nice night.
“We just have to keep working. We know how it feels from last year and not getting done.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE JUSTIN SMITH:
How does it feel about beating QB Aaron Rodgers today?
“Any time we have a guy of that kind of caliber over there, I don’t care how you win, it’s just big.”
What kind of statement is it to get back to the NFC Championship?
“I don’t think we’re really worried about making a statement, we’re just worried about getting back there. I’ve been in this league for 12 years and it’s hard to get to that game. We’re not going to take it for granted and we’ll give it our best shot.”
How important was it for you to play?
“I’m just glad to be a part of this team and get a chance to play in the NFC Championship game.”
Your secondary sure held up today:
“They’re phenomenal and I think every one of them is in the Pro Bowl. It was a good defensive win and good team win. Any time you knock QB Aaron Rodgers off it feels pretty good.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS TACKLE JOE STALEY:
What was he (QB Colin Kaepernick) like in the huddle when he was running so well, and operating the offense so well, in the read option?
“It was just business. We get excited when we’re moving the ball, but you got to put that play, whether it’s successful or unsuccessful, and put it to rest.”
A few times replays isolated you working against LB Clay Matthews, and it looked like you did a good job with him. Do you feel like you did?
“Yeah I was pretty happy the way I played today. I knew going in he was going to be a great challenge. He’s a phenomenal player. I was really challenged by our coaching staff and our players, and I knew I had to have a big game.”
Can you guess what percentage of the time he was lined up across from you?
“Every play he was lined up across from me.”
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS LINEBACKER PATRICK WILLIS:
What was the moment when you saw them when you realized this was too tough for them to win?
“Honestly, I’m not sure. I know for us it was just about we knew the first half wasn’t a good defensive half for us. And we knew our offense kept us in the game. And we just came in at halftime and talked it over a little bit. And just knew that, come back out the second half, it was all about what we need to do, and what we didn’t do the first half.”
The game starts on such a weird note, the crowd’s jacked up, you guys are excited. And there’s a pick six that goes the other way. What was your reaction when that happened, and how did you guys turn it around from there?
“Honestly, we weren’t worried at all. That’s something we talk about all the time. Adversity is going to hit and it’s how you’re going to respond to it. That makes us the team that we are. When that pick six happened it was just like, all right dang. But, it happened. And we’ve got to go out there on defense and get one. And I think for the most part today we just played. We played for 60 minutes. And we knew that’s what it was going to take.”
From a defender’s point of view, how difficult is it to play against a quarterback like QB Colin Kaepernick?
“Put me in a tough one when you ask me about my own teammate. From what we see in practice and from what we see in the game, obviously you see a quarterback run the way that he runs. That’s unbelievable. And to see him in practice, you never really see him open up like that in practice. You see them do the offense what they do and whatnot. But, to see him do it in a game, it amazes me. It wows me. And I’m just saying wow, did he just do that. And credit goes to that whole offense to have a guy like [RB] Frank [Gore] who people have to account for. And then Kap’s doing what he’s doing. And before you know it, hopefully they don’t know which one to go for. And both of them are running wild, which they did today.”
Can you talk about how impressed it is to see him through his development? So much is talked about with guys like Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and Colts QB Andrew Luck. But, those guys are out and Colin’s still in it helping you guys out?
“Yeah, just to see how fast he’s picked up on the offense, just to see how fast he’s picked up on the game period, it’s remarkable. And I know that Kap’s a guy who works every day and he’s very confident in himself, not conceited by any means. But, if you see what we see every day. I get there and, I’m the type of man I don’t like to be at work, but honestly I get there to the facility and he’s outside already warming up. And I think he works out every day. I joke with him all the time. I say you’ve got to be one of the biggest and strongest quarterbacks I’ve seen. But, he plays the position like a true quarterback. And that’s what it’s going to take. And I’m just happy to see him do that. And he’s done well for us today. And it doesn’t stop here. We’ve got a big game next week wherever we play. And that’s our next focus.”
You talk about how fast he picks things up, how fast is he though when you see him on the field?
“He’s fast. It’s just one thing when you see a guy get behind a guy and they try to run and the guy already has a step on him. But, to see a guy come across the field at an angel and he eats up the angle, to us that’s fast. That guy’s moving. And like I said, it’s great to have him doing what he’s doing. And not only is his speed remarkable, just to see how he’s throwing the ball. Seeing how he’s getting behind other guys, that’s amazing, too. My hat goes off to that offense, that side of the ball. Like I said, today when our defense was struggling they kept us in there in that second half. We knew if we came back out and we played to the level that they were playing and even higher, then the game would be ours. And that was the outcome. We won.”
Can you talk about the overall defensive performance and what would you like to see improve as you go into the next game?
“Really for the most part we just have to start faster. It’s not getting easier whoever it is we play, especially we have to start fast and play for 60 minutes. And we didn’t do that today, but we just finished. And that’s most important. But, yeah I’d just like to see us start faster and continue to do what we do.”
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