On whether it's obvious that the Niners have taken on head coach Mike Singletary's approach to the game: "I believe so. When you talk about Mike Singletary, you obviously talked about the way that he approached the game, his attitude, his enthusiasm, being able to play downhill and that's stopping the run, being very effective in the pass and being such a big leader. You see that from the defense. You see that from their defense, being able to attack with their linebackers. Their linebackers, obviously we know [LB] Takeo Spikes from being a teammate of his, and [LB] Patrick Willis and just the mark that he's made ever since he came into the league, but you're seeing it from the whole defense. The safeties are very aggressive. Their defensive front applies pressure, so it's a challenge for us obviously on the offensive side."
On how he would rank this season for himself and for the offense:"I think it's kind of premature to do that. I think that's something you wait until the end of the year to do. We've had some explosive games but we have also left some plays out on the field. When you're in this part of the season you have to make sure that you eliminate those mistakes and be able to be very effective at the right time."
On the offense being able to put up points this season and whether he sees similarities between the 2004 team that went to the Super Bowl and this year's team: "I think they're totally different teams. This is a younger team, you have young guys flying around and just having fun. I don't think it's truly hit them yet of just the adversities. I think for the 2004 team we had a team together who had been together for a while and just adding some different pieces to the puzzle, which got us over the hump. We were playing with really just this 'all for us' attitude and just excitement. This year I think it's just more of youth and just different talents that we're just trying to expose and get guys an opportunity to make plays."
On whether he's being asked to do more this year than in 2004:"Possibly. I think that year was a breakout year, so to speak for us. That's when guys really made a name for themselves because they made such an impact. The Brian Westbrooks, the L.J. Smiths, the Todd Pinkstons, Tra Thomas and the Jon Runyans, I think that was kind of the breakout year for all those guys on the offensive side. Defensively, you had the Michael Lewis', the Lito Sheppards. I believe we had eight or nine Pro Bowlers that year. This year, obviously we may not have any of that but we still have a great group that just plays well together."
On whether he thinks he needs to remind his teammates of how important this game is: "I think, for all of us, the communication aspect is just making sure that everyone is truly focused just on this particular game and not focusing on anything later down the road, not getting caught up in the hoopla or the what-ifs or whatever it may be. I think the communication aspect starts with just focusing on the 49ers and that's it, knowing what plays in which we would call and how we want to attack them and the approach, and I think with all of that said, all throughout the week with staying focused, hopefully leading to a good result on Sunday."
On the Niners victory over the Cardinals on Monday night: "I think with just the situation in which we are in, I think that kind of overweighs what they did on Monday night for what we can do for ourselves. We are in a great position. If we just take care of business and do what we have to do we kind of secure a position and kind of get better as far as trying to win the NFC East."
On how he feels about the upgrades the team made this past offseason: "I think every year is a different year, and I think just from the attitude, and obviously as we know each year, so we're going to try do whatever it takes to upgrade each side of the ball. Bringing in a young receiver and having another young receiver on the other side really just added depth to our wide receiver position depending on what happened. Unfortunately we had some injuries at that position.
"At the running back position, obviously with [RB Brian] Westbrook being injured a little bit drafting a running back and a tight end obviously of adding depth, looking to get [TE] Cornelius [Ingram] back. Every year the approach in the draft is to try to improve and add depth to positions and talent and I think for the guys that we have here that have been stepping up and making big plays for us is just a tribute of just the attitude of the scouting department and [head coach] Andy [Reid] in making that decision."
On whether he's happy with the upgrades that were made: "We're 9-4, I'm very happy."
On how he is the only player still standing from that 2004 offense:"I think when you have a core group that can start things out I think the younger guys begin to follow, they begin to understand everything that the older guys put forth. You talk about the offensive line, [G/T] Todd Herremans and [C] Jamaal Jackson, two young guys who were learning at that particular time and understanding what we had to do to get to the 2004 season, the Super Bowl. Then you bring in some veteran guys to fill in the tackle positions or whatever it may be.
"I am the lone one standing pretty much but that's what makes it fun, that's what makes this game fun is the fact that you have some new faces out there, guys who are willing to do whatever it takes to win. With communication and chemistry, good things can happen."
On whether he likes being the older guy out there: "I don't look at it as the old guy. I kind of look at it more of kind of being in a position – it's just like a basketball player when you go through the draft and you draft guys and you still have that key guy or that face, the face that's been there for years in the organization, and you build around him and all of a sudden you're starting to see younger guys making big plays and guys flying around all of a sudden and it looks like you're having fun and you're winning ball games. I love that role.
"It's funny because there were plays all throughout the season that we could have had [that] we were just a little bit off, and then to know where we're at right now of what we could have done and where we could have been, but we can't do anything about the past. We can only focus on what's going on now and what we can set for the future. I love this position."
On whether he thinks having a big-play receiver like Terrell Owens in 2004 and WR DeSean Jackson this season is an important component for what they do offensively: "I think there are comparisons and also a lot of things that are different. Obviously with T.O. [he] brought attention, a lot of attention to our offense and he was still very effective. I think for rolling the coverage we were able to move him around because of his size, it still created mismatches which led now to Westbrook having so many catches and so many yards, L.J. Smith, so many catches, so many yards, and then even Correll Buckhalter coming in spilling for Westbrook and picking up big yards. We had Dorsey Levens, a guy who had been with Green Bay, had success and came here and still had pretty much the same success. Todd Pinkston, I believe at that time, led the league in catches over 20 yards.
"So, what it does is it opens up opportunities for other guys on the offensive side. I think the difference for this year obviously is a different height situation with DeSean and T.O. but still the same explosiveness. We have [WR Jeremy] Maclin who is a bigger receiver still being able to make plays on the other side. [TE] Brent Celek, who I think is having a Pro Bowl year. [FB] Leonard Weaver having a Pro Bowl year. The offensive line, the chemistry is where we need it to be and they seem to get that experience and they are playing well. There are some comparisons but there are also some differences in this situation."
On whether he is particularly proud of his performance this year all things considered: "I don't go into the whole individual aspect. I think as a team we have really played well with all the adversities that we've had to overcome, with the shuffling of the offensive line, with losing [WR] Kevin Curtis and Maclin stepping in in his first starts and his continued starts now and now him being hurt. DeSean being steady and consistent. Brent Celek having a wonderful year. For two running backs stepping into Westbrook's shoes of carrying the load where two new guys who you really didn't know what to expect from them, [RB LeSean] McCoy and Weaver.
"I'm just proud of those guys in just kind of the way they've taken the horns and run with it and just kind of excited about getting that opportunity to make a play. For my job, it's just to make sure that those guys are prepared at all times and ready to make a play when the time comes."
On there being some younger players on this team who admired him as a player when they were growing up or in high school and whether it's exciting to have all of them looking up to him and wanting to make plays for him:"That is exciting. When you can put the ball up out in front of a DeSean Jackson and have him run up under for a big touchdown, or a Maclin making a guy miss and picking up yards, or a Jason Avant taking the middle of the field and just going up and making a miraculous catch, it's an exciting thing for me obviously because that's something that I haven't had in years and even in the 2004 season.
"But also, we have to continue to stay grounded and that's the challenge of just making sure that everybody understands that what you were able to do last week you may not be able to do this week and you have to pull out something new, show the defense something new that they maybe haven't seen or haven't gameplanned for. That's why I just try to stay on these guys and make sure I stay on myself as well of just try to be perfect, try to do the right things with the ball and just make sure that you put the team in a position to win."
On whether this is the toughest year to make the Pro Bowl as a quarterback in the NFC with all the talent: "Personally I would rather make the Super Bowl. I mean, it is in the same place just about. The whole thing about it in the NFC with Brett [Favre] and the way he's playing, Kurt [Warner] and the numbers he's put up, Drew Brees and the number he's put up. I think kind of the unsung hero of the whole deal is Aaron Rodgers, for everybody that talked about the sacks that they've given up and things of that nature, he's continued to stay consistent and put up outstanding numbers. But again, it's nothing that I focus on as far as where I would be in the Pro Bowl and things of that nature. I would rather find myself the week after playing in the Super Bowl."