Can you describe to people outside the organization what it’s like to be on a roll like this as a team and as a player?
“Well, it’s fun. We are playing the way we want to play. You play this game to win so it has been fun to accomplish that goal every week. I think we are improving. We played a better game on Monday night than we had the previous couple. All three facets came with a strong effort. I think this group has learned how to win after our run we went on last year, finishing the season up, and then a run in the playoffs. We picked up where we left off and have been moving the ball pretty effectively.”
Can you talk about your relationship with your head coach and how he has helped your game?
“Mike and I have a real good relationship. [We] spent a lot of time together for the first couple offseasons. His quarterback school which is basically conducted by Tom Clements my quarterback coach, meant a lot for me in the offseasons. Tom Clements is a guy I think you really got to look to as a big reason for my success. The time we spend together preparing and him teaching and the way he coaches on game day has really meant a lot to me. Mike has done a good job of calling some plays that have been working.”
You didn’t get to play immediately now do you look back to that as the best?
“I think so. I think every situation is a little bit different. I was fortunate to be in a situation where I got to be coached very well as a young player and learned a lot about the game. [I] became an expert of my offense and started studying defenses and trying to improve my reaction time [and] improve my fundamentals. The quarterback school meant a lot to me. Working with Tom Clements has really again just sped up my reaction time and made me a better player quicker. It was definitely a situation that worked best for me.”
Can you take us back to that day when Jon Gruden worked you out and you threw to Jerry Rice?
“Back in 2005 I think it was maybe early April or late March Jon (Gruden) came out with Paul Hackett and said he had a surprise for me after we watched some film and talked some ball. One of my childhood favorite players (being a huge 49ner fan growing up) Jerry Rice comes walking down the steps and I get to throw passes to him. To think about it a twenty-one year old kid throwing to one of your idols [and] how nervous you think you would be. I was that and then some. [I] overthrew him a couple of times, but it was exciting to be able to throw to him and to work with Jon and Paul. Great coaches who have been around the game for a long time. Then Jon actually called me when I was in New York on Thursday April 21 and it sounded like at the time they were going to take me with the fifth pick. I don’t fault them for taking Cadillac (Williams). He had an incredible college career and [he] had a great rookie season. [He] was slowed down by some injuries, but I don’t blame them at all or hold any animosity toward Jon or Bruce (Allen) or the organization. Everything kind of happens for a reason. Looking back on when they came out and visited me that was one of the top moments in my young sports career being able to throw to Jerry Rice.”
Are you a guy in any way who gained motivation by not being picked by 23 other teams?
“Not really. Not if I am being honest. It is not something I really think about anymore. Obviously there was some disappointment and embarrassment on the draft day back in 2005. Once I came here and was able to learn and get healthy and get my body in good shape and then when I started to play (I am in my fourth year starting now) there are plenty of things that keep me motivated. Now I look back on the draft as the best thing that happened to me. Things do happen for a reason.”
Can you talk about Jordy Nelson’s emergence?
“I think you saw a lot of this coming last year during the season. He started to get more opportunities and make plays. There are a lot of things that I really appreciate about Jordy. His professionalism, the way he carries himself, the kind of teammate that he is, and his unselfishness. His talent I think is starting to speak for itself and he is not able to sneak up on people as much anymore, but he has got exceptional speed. I think he sees the game like a quarterback does. Meaning that he is great at understanding where he needs to be and the timing and time clock of our offense. He is incredible at second reaction plays when the pocket breaks down. Finding the open spot so as to relate to me who is going to get the ball. He just does everything really well and he has got deceptive speed. He is a guy you can really count on every week to make a big play and a guy you really appreciate as a teammate the way he carries himself.”
Do you feel fortunate to play with such a receiving core as you have?
“I am definitely blessed to have the kind of guys that we got. I hope they would say the same thing about me.”
What is this stretch of three games in eleven days like to prepare for and is it taxing as a player?
“It really is because today is like a Tuesday on our bodies. So you feel the soreness from having played two days prior. Definitely yesterday was a long day of trying to get in your preparation you put in Monday and Tuesday into one day. [I] am just trying to digest as much film as I can and figure out what we are going to try to do on offense. Short weeks are tough on the preparation and on the body, but I think everybody enjoys getting back on the field as quickly as possible.”
With the loss the Bucs took last week are you kind of looking at them as kind of a dangerous opponent at this moment?
“I think so, definitely. I think they are very well coached. They have a big, strong young quarterback who has a ton of potential and can hurt you with his legs and with his arms. [They have] a defense that can cover well and present a number of different looks at you. If you look at where they are at and where their coach wants them to get to, this is an important game for them to get back in the wild card on and get out of this couple game slide they have had. We know what kind of effort they are going to bring [and] we got to match that intensity and exceed it. Hopefully our crowd comes out and wakes up early and gets going for this noon central kickoff. We know how important this game is. Not only to us and this three game in ten in a half day stretch, but to them as they look at the last seven games of their schedule.”
What was it like for you to have a GM put that kind of faith in you when said moving on without Brett Favre?
“It felt great. It really did. I think a lot of people not around the situation really didn’t know what was going on within the organization and unfortunately not all that information was appropriate to get out at that time. I appreciate the organization standing by me and standing by in their word. At the time I told Ted that I wouldn’t forget his loyalty and I would try to repay him. I was thankful to be able to stand on the podium with him and Coach McCarthy and president Murphy. So that was a good moment.”
-Mark Cook contributed to this report