NEW ORLEANS – Where to begin. That was probably the hardest part of media day at Super Bowl XLVII. When the San Francisco 49ers met with an estimated 2,000 credentialed media members at the same time, it wasn’t quite easy deciding which player or coach to listen to first.
Nearly every offensive and defensive starter was made available at 14 on-field podiums at the Superdome. At every station, an intriguing, standout player was available. And, Jim Harbaugh, was in there talking for an hour, too.
So who to listen to first? Anthony Dixon provided some help.
“I think you definitely go talk to Randy,” the 49ers running back and special teams contributor said. “That’s a personality right there. He’s great. He’s great for the locker room, too. It’s fun talking to him, he’s got so much knowledge. You can learn from him. He’s been up, he’s been down, he’s been through some stuff, so I’d definitely say Randy.”
Dixon was right, Moss didn’t’ disappoint.
Surrounded by cameras and reporters for his entire media session, the veteran wide receiver who downplays the spotlight that comes along with an accomplished career, shed light on his comeback with the 49ers, plus his thoughts on his legacy and what it took to reach the big game in New Orleans.
“It’s all about business,” Moss said on a very unique day where reporters dressed in costumes and asked non-football questions to a team just 60 on-field minutes away from being world champs.
“It’s like a dream,” Moss continued. “I really didn’t expect to be here. I couldn’t have told you back in June and July that it’s here, I want to make the best of it and bring the trophy back to San Francisco.”
Even in the media madness, the focus remained sharp for Harbaugh.
“To win a Super Bowl, we’re going to have to earn it,” the 49ers coach said, explaining his respect for his brother John Harbaugh’s team. “We feel the same way about our team as we do the Baltimore Ravens. This is going to have to be earned.”
Asked about how he’s spent free time in New Orleans, Harbaugh only had time for lunch with his family on Monday.
As for the rest of the week?
“Been in a dark film room watching the Baltimore Ravens,” said Harbaugh, who later orchestrated the post-media session team photo with painstaking attention to detail.
The 49ers coach was asked a few non-football related questions, but not nearly as many as his players.
Six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis was asked about his favorite guilty pleasures when it comes to late-night snacks. The question was not from a long-time football scribe, but from Food Network personality and celebrity chef, Aaron Sanchez.
“Ice cream,” Willis answered.
Sanchez proceeded to teach Willis how to say the phrase in Spanish. Willis repeated the translation and received a nod of approval from the chef.
In a seamless transition, the next question went back to football.
Is this the most unified team Willis has ever been a part of? Yes, definitely.
“It is,” Willis said of the tight-knit 49ers. “This is one of the most unified teams I’ve ever been a part of, since I’ve been playing sports period.”
The close bonds within San Francisco’s roster have helped the team reach Super Bowl XLVII in the mind of Pro Bowl linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
Challenging road wins, a week-long stay in Youngstown, Ohio, an in-season quarterback change, all brought the team closer together in 2012.
Bowman believes the 49ers have to win first, before they can be compared to the franchise’s five Super Bowl-winning teams.
“We have an opportunity to be great, but we have a huge game this Sunday to get to where you’re talking about,” Bowman replied to a question about the team’s pending legacy. “Without a doubt we have to win this game. After the game, ask me that question.”
The standout linebacker explained that he’s quite familiar with the 49ers Super Bowl legacy and that previous challenges along the way have them ready for Sunday’s game against Baltimore, his hometown team.
“Those guys set the bar pretty high for us guys who’ve come after them,” Bowman explained. “We’ve been hearing about it, quest for six, bring that ring back, so the pressure is on. This is the team that deals with pressure in a very good way.”
Like Bowman, defensive co-captain Justin Smith is confident heading into the biggest game of his life. Preparation helps.
“We feel really good,” the defensive tackle said. “When you prepare and you know your opponent, you feel very confident.”
Smith revealed an interesting tidbit about the 49ers defensive preparations. With Baltimore switching offensive coordinators late in the season, San Francisco has mostly watched film of the Ravens offense under new coordinator Jim Caldwell to prepare for Sunday’s game.
As far as additional information on X’s and O’s, that went out to the wayside when media members asked about the team’s strangest pre-game ritual, favorite Beyonce songs or best Harbaugh impersonations.
Staley volunteered his best imitation, lifting his red 49ers hat off his head and grabbing both sides of his head with each hand. “He’s always grinding his teeth,” Staley said after mimicking his coach.
After 45 minutes of questioning, the left tackle came to two realizations.
“I’ve said awesome so many times today,” Staley pointed out.
The hard-working tackle also recognized that once media day wrapped up, Super Bowl XLVII preparations go into overdrive.
“I’m ready to start practice,” Staley said. “We came down here for a business trip and the business is on the football field. I’m ready to get into meetings and get the week going.”
The 49ers will hold their first practice of the week at the New Orleans Saints facility.
For some, the first practice might spark an attitude adjustment.
“It’s hard to put this into words,” Dixon said. “You pray for this, you wish for this, you have to attack it. As we get closer, I’ll probably get meaner. I want it so bad. You just have to prepare, get focused and get mean. Everybody really wants this; I think the most fierce team is going to get it.”