Tuesday Press Conference - 11/22


QB Joe Flacco

On whether he takes notice of San Francisco's NFL-high forced turnovers: "You have to go play. I mean, when you watch the film, you can see that teams turn the ball over on them. It's not our job to pay attention to what other teams did and what they did against other teams. Our job is to go out there, execute our game plan and worry about what we can control."

On what he's seen from their pass rushers: "They've got some good guys. Obviously, where they've been really established is in the run game. They haven't allowed any touchdowns, and their yards-per-carry [average] is pretty good. So, that's where they've been really good. I think when you have guys up front that can do that, obviously, they can get at you with a pass or two."

On how critical it is to be patient when playing against a team with a strong defense: "It's [about] whatever is going to move the football for us and get us first downs. If we're able to do both of those things, and hit chunks here or there, then that's what's going to be important. I think anytime you're going to be patient, and you're going to decide to take that route, you have to make sure that you hit a couple chunk plays like we did on Sunday. Other than that, you've got to do what you've got to do to move the chains and be efficient on third downs. The best way to do that is to have third-and-shorts and keep yourself out of third-down positions. So, that's what we've really got to fight towards – just putting ourselves in good situations on third down so we can convert on first."

On how challenging it is to prepare for Thursday night games: "I keep saying, as a team, looking at our team, it's definitely tougher to get ready on the physical side than it is mentally. I think we all understand how to get ready for a football game when it comes to the mental side and what the other side of the ball is doing to scheme us out. The biggest challenge is taking a beating from 250-pound guys every play, for our defense, for our offense, and getting out of bed and getting ready to play on Thursday. I think that's the biggest challenge."

On if it's difficult staying up late preparing for these games: "For the coaches, man. (laughter) I'm going home and I'm sleeping good. (laughter) You know, as a player, if you're staying up until 11:30, 12:00 at night preparing, then I would assume you're not really ready. That's the way I think about it, and that's the way I go about it."

On WR Torrey Smith and how much he has improved since August: "Obviously, he has a skill set and he is what he is. He's really just starting to understand the game and pick up on what the defense is doing a little bit. He's allowing himself to play fast. He's allowing himself to use the skill set that he has. Anytime a player can do that, free himself up mentally and allow himself to just play with all the talent that he has, then they're doing something for themselves. I think that's what he's doing right now."

On whether he has had to talk to Smith after a couple dropped catches: "No. I mean, every now and then you can see he's down, but what are you going to say to the guy? I'm just saying, if it's anything, it's positive, but it's usually nothing. Just look at him, 'Hey, go get the next one.' It's not that hard. You drop balls here and there. Part of being a good offense is being able to overcome all those things."

On whether defenses are playing him differently because he has completed so many long passes: "I don't know. I think, for the most part, defenses like to do what they like to do. And in certain situations, they feel like they have to play differently based on what you've hit and who you have on the outside. But, there have been situations where I feel like they haven't been able to do everything they want to do – whether it's play a little softer, whether it's pressuring them into bringing in a lot of pressure and us hitting a quick one on them. I think we've definitely forced some defenses' hands this year where we haven't had quite the ability to do that in the past."

On the challenges of being a quarterback and a first-round draft pick like the 49ers' Alex Smith was: "I mean, I think the biggest thing is just every week people want to be up and down on you. You've got to make sure you keep in your mind that that isn't the reality. You go out there, you play every week and you play consistently. At the end of the year, you bring your head up and see where you've gotten your football team and what kind of positions you've put your football team in. Hey, they're playing really good right now. They're a 9-1 football team, so [Smith] should be very proud of where he's at and what their football team is doing. They've really set themselves up for this time of the year, where it starts to get really important. Things start to really show who is going to be the elite teams and who is going to be a playoff team. I think they've positioned themselves to be one of those teams and continue to improve from there. We're going to give it our best shot to halt them for one game at least."

On how impressed he is with San Francisco's record of being 4-0 on the East Coast: "It's a pretty good accomplishment. You know, especially coming from the West Coast to the East Coast, I think it's easier for us to go out there. The toughest thing for those West Coast teams is when they make them play those 1:00 games here. So, at least they will be playing an 8:00 game. They'll just have to get over the flight. They'll be playing an 8:00 game, East Coast, so it'll be 5:00 back there. They won't have to adjust to a time; it's really just going to be the long flight on a short week. I'm sure they have played a couple 1:00 games here; that's the biggest challenge for those teams. It's like they're playing at 10:00 in the morning. I honestly don't know why they do that for them. But, it's a big plus for us."

On the difficulty of being effective in the red zone: "Yeah, everything tightens down. The defense can really tighten everything up on you. It's almost easier to score from the 30-yard line than it is the 4-yard line, just because everything becomes so tight down in there. There's so little room for error, and the guys are only open for a quick second. There's a lot of those things, so we've got to do… We have our challenges, and that's why we have our game plan plays where, every now and then, you take shots from further out so you can eliminate that."

On whether the team wants to win the game for head coach John Harbaugh: "I have a feeling we want to win it because we want to win it. Obviously, there's a little extra for him. But for a team, it's an important win for us right now. It's just as important as any other win, and that's kind of how we're looking at it."

On whether he thinks WR Lee Evans will be a strong factor for the last stretch of the season: "Definitely. I mean, at least we got a little bit of work in when he first got here. But if you throw a guy in there, especially like Lee, he has fresh legs, he can run as it is, it's really just about having confidence in him doing the right thing. As long as he's doing the right thing, he should be in position, and there's no reason why we can't connect."

On what he thinks is the core of the 49ers' defense: "Their linebackers are pretty good. They've got two of the best guys, I would say, in the middle with No. 53 [NaVorro Bowman] and No. 52 [Patrick Willis]. They're pretty good, and their front seven has really been able to stop the run really well."

On whether he has ever played a game on Thanksgiving before:"Yeah, we played on Thanksgiving every year in high school. So, I would play at like 11:30 every morning in high school."

OLB Terrell Suggs

On the short week and the 49ers: "They are a very tough opponent, and it is a short week. So, this is definitely a week where you have to be a professional, you have to get back healthy really fast, and you have to take care of your body. But, it's going to be exciting, it's going to be fun. All the politics that have to do with this game between the two coaches… Regardless of the end result, I can't wait to see the handshake. I am kind of looking forward to it, but it's going to be awesome."

On how much he wants to win the game for head coach John Harbaugh: "We really want to win it bad for him. Everybody saw the ESPN special during the offseason with them two [John and 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh]. We've kind of seen the words that they were going to kind of get after each other like they did when they were little. It's going to be fun to be a part of another sibling rivalry."

On the 49ers' offense and RB Frank Gore: "He is a great back. Like I said, I told you all, we are going to face a good back every week, but this one, he is very special. He runs angry. He runs very aggressive. We like that. We like the rough stuff. Like I said, I think they did a good job picking this to be a Thursday night, Thanksgiving [matchup] – us vs. them. They couldn't have picked two better teams."

On the depth on the Ravens' defense and how important it is during a short week: "Depth on any team is very important, because I always say that the NFL season is a marathon, it's not a sprint. You have to have strength in numbers if you are trying to reach that ultimate goal up there."

On if there is more depth this season: "We've always had depth, to be totally honest with you. We've always had depth. It was just guys waiting to get their shot. Like you said, you mentioned those two guys [OLB Paul Kruger and DE Pernell McPhee], and they are playing phenomenal right now. It's just good to have young guys like that getting ready to come off that ball."

On LB Ray Lewis practicing yesterday and if he is encouraged: "I am not talking about injuries. I am not talking about injuries."

On the linebacker's play in the absence of Lewis: "I think we played really good. I think we played good as a unit. We're not perfect. We played a good Cincinnati Bengals team. They got some plays, they got some shots over our head, but as a unit, I think we did really good."

On if the team will be playing on adrenaline on Thursday vs. San Francisco: "It's Thursday Night Football, Thanksgiving. I have never played on Thanksgiving in my whole nine-year career. Finally, I get the opportunity to do so. I am going to be having a lot of fun, like I always do. I think every time we get the chance to line up, everybody really takes advantage of that. Not only that, we are at home; we have the best fans in the world. That's going to be fun. I think we'll be all right for the simple fact that every time we line up in M&T [Bank Stadium], we show that we are a special team."

On if there is a feeling to represent on Thanksgiving: "This is going to be a dogfight. Like I said, I don't think they could have picked a better game of the season. Like I said, with all the politics, I think it's going to be fun. It's going to be a really fun game, and you all should be very entertained."

On if the turnover margin has been a big key to the 49ers' success this season: "I don't know, but they are playing really inspired football. They are playing very confident. That's always a great thing to have a very confident football team. That definitely has something to do with it, but I think that breath of fresh air they have with their personnel and everything… They are playing really good football."

On playing at home instead of traveling to San Francisco: "That is a long way to travel, but I am a West Coast guy. I always love West Coast games. I was just happy that we got a Thursday night game at home, because last year we had to go to Atlanta. It's huge that we are at home. You get to play Thursday night on Thanksgiving in front of our family and friends."

On wearing the black jerseys on Thursday night: "For real? I am a uniform guy. I like [that] you can wear different things. I always wanted to kind of like wear the throwback [jerseys] with the old Ravens logo. I always want to change the uniform up. It's good any time that you can have some variety, kind of give the fans a different look."

On the season so far: "It's valleys and peaks. We have had our high points and we've had our lows. A good team can sustain throughout. You're right, every game counts right now. It's November football, November and December. As you can clearly see, one loss put us from No. 2 and put us to No. 5 last year, or something like that. We definitely have to make all of them count."

On the key to stopping 49ers TE Vernon Davis: "Coverage. You have to cover him. He is a phenomenal talent. I heard he ran something like a 4.3 [40-yard dash] at the Combine. He is very yoked up. He is very athletic. He's a good player. He's a good player."

On what "yoked up" means: "He is just built. He's cut. He's yoked up, you know what I mean?"

On if "Ball So Hard" University is over: "Ball So Hard, apparently it's a movement, and we are going to have it all year. Hopefully, we can ride it right into Indy [Indianapolis]. (Reporter: "So, no new introduction?") No new intro. Not as of right now, so Ball So Hard is it."

On what he has seen from the left side of the 49ers' offensive line: "They are good tackles. It's like, if you start in the NFL, you can play a little bit. It's what I see in every tackle. Some tackles are better than others, but they are two stout tackles and they are [9-1]."

LB Ray Lewis

"I apologize for not being available as I normally am on a day like today, but I am taking every opportunity to get treatment on my foot to prepare to play on Thursday. Anytime you see your team on the field, you always want to be out there with them. As the leader of your team, it doesn't sit well with me to be on the sidelines. But I was the biggest cheerleader out there on Sunday, and I was truly proud of the way we played as a team. I am doing everything in my power to get back as fast as I can, whether that's this week, next week or whenever it is, I am doing everything I can to be out there with my team. I want to play Thursday night, and I am making some progress."

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