WR Emmanuel Sanders
WR Emmanuel Sanders
Press Conference – January 23, 2020
San Francisco 49ers
T Joe Staley was just in here telling us about his Super Bowl experience and how overwhelmed he was by all the kind of extra stuff that happens there and said that he assigned family members to be the “no” people, to kind of keep the other family members from making it too hectic. Can you relate to that? Was it that hectic for you when you were out here?
“No, because it’s my second time around. First time it wasn’t hectic as well. I think the language going on around the building, I think, is very accurate. [Head coach] Kyle’s [Shanahan] been around a long time. And [general manager] John’s [Lynch] won Super Bowls. And we’ve got guys on this team who have won Super Bowls and been to the Super Bowl. So, I think the language that’s going on around here in terms of him and everything this week, so when we get out to Miami it’s going to be even more of chaos, and I think we’re speaking the right language, in terms of getting the young guys to understand and visualize what’s exactly going to go on and how the week is going to be and how it’s going to be out at Miami as well.”
What is that message that John and-
“Obviously it’s to prepare this week. Obviously, prepare this week. We’ve got to practice today, prepare like we’re getting ready to play on Sunday. Prepare all week like you’re getting ready to play a game on Sunday because if you don’t, by the time we get out to Miami, it’s going to be chaos. We’ve got Media Day. We’ve got all kind of obligations. It’s not going to be like a regular schedule that we are used to in terms of getting off of work, going home, hanging out at home. It’s going to be- you’re going to be pulled left and right in terms of different obligations that you’ve got to do. You’ve got to handle all that. At the same time, it’s about, like I said, making these young guys visualize it so that when it does happen, then just hit them upside the head. They see it before it comes.”
Joe was also talking about that it doesn’t always happen where the wideouts are such willing blockers and participants in the run game. Why has this group been so willing to be involved?
“I think it’s a mindset. At the end of the day we’ve got a lot of guys who aren’t “me” guys, it’s about let’s get the job done and let’s win. It’s more about “we” than “me.” And I’m one of those guys as well. And I think everybody is a part of it. You even look at [TE George] Kittle. Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the league, but everybody wants to talk about his blocking as well. So, I think it’s contagious around the building in terms of going out and doing your job. When you look at your best players and they’re doing it, I feel like everybody else will hop on board as well. So, it’s contagious.”
How valuable was the Super Bowl experience from your history?
“What do you mean by value?”
How much can it really help a player in the game, the lead up to it?
“I don’t know what you mean by that. What do you mean?”
The second time you were in the Super Bowl, did you feel like you were more prepared for it than the first time?
“I think I was prepared both. In the first one, I got hurt. And then in the second one, I obviously went out, had 80 yards. I don’t know how many catches. But I feel like it’s a lot of hype in terms of: it’s the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, but at the same time it’s my job. I’ve got to go out, win a game. I’ve been playing and I told the young guys today, I said it’s going to be a lot of hype. Obviously, you can watch TV, you can feed into that, but at the end of the day, none of that matters if you lose the game. So, the best bet is to try to stay locked in, don’t read the newspaper articles and stuff like that. But just trying to stay in the moment. And I told them, and maybe it’s just how I’m built, but once the clock starts rolling, I go out on that field. Truthfully, I just love the game of football and I’m just so locked in on doing my job that I kind of forget it’s the Super Bowl. It’s like it’s more of a battle and you forget that it’s millions of people watching. And so I think that I speak for the whole when I say I feel like this team, from a focus standpoint, we’re all built like that as well because we’ve been in crucial times and I’ve looked to the sideline and nobody blinked.”
Are you saying you don’t even hear the crowd?
“Yes, sometimes I don’t. I’m locked in. I’m not one of those guys- I wish I was more like that but at the same time, it’s a blessing and curse. I’m not one of those guys that look around and enjoy the ambiance of it. I’m more like straightforward, just focused on my goal. And then at the end of it, when it’s all said and done, you look up at the scoreboard and you say we won, now it’s time to celebrate.”
Do you try to visualize yourself over the next week and a half, catching a touchdown pass?
“I’ve already been visualizing everything. I’ve been visualizing everything. As a team, we’ve been visualizing talking about how it’s going to be after we win it. Because, like I said many times, you’ve got some people that say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m happy to be in the Super Bowl.’ And you’ve got some people who say, ‘Yeah, cool, NFC Champions.’ But at the same time, we still have one game left and we have to go handle business.”
Can you visualize what that score might be?
“No. Imagine I give a Super Bowl score prediction, all of your pens would start moving.”
You’ve been around a lot of quarterbacks. What makes QB Jimmy Garoppolo unique as a leader, and obviously when he takes it out on the field, in the huddle?
“I love Jimmy. I swear I love Jimmy but I’m tired of talking about Jimmy. Jimmy is a baller. I’ve been saying it since day one. But that’s my boy, man, and Jimmy’s a baller and I keep saying it over and over and it’s the same questions. But, he’s a baller and I expect him to do what he’s got to do. Obviously, he threw the ball eight times last week, but at the same time, some people say you’ve got to stop the run. But it’s been plenty of times they say you’ve got to stop the run and next thing you know you open the passing game. I feel we can do that as well.”
Can you speak to what it’s like to be coached by wide receivers coach Wes Welker and what influence he’s had?
“It’s cool because I played with Wes, that’s why I feel a little old. But I played with Wes and now he’s my coach. And man, he’s doing a good job. Obviously, I know a little bit more than the younger guys. But, what he’s doing with those young guys, it’s amazing. The way that he’s got [WR] Deebo Samuel playing. Deebo was already a player, but you’ve got some players that are great players, but you need a coach that can pull the greatness out of them. I think that’s a lot of credit to Deebo and Kyle and how they have been able to pull the greatness out of Deebo, because we sit here and talk about him, he’s a rookie. And we don’t really talk about him like a rookie because he doesn’t play like a rookie. He plays like a grown man and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ve been enjoying just being in the room with Wes. And every now and then he’ll pull out some of his old clips to show the young guys, ‘Look, I might be saying this, but I’ve done this before, too.’ Don’t get it twisted.”
Does he have any specific principles or points of emphasis that he always makes?
“I think one thing that Wes says is that he always tells the young guys, you never arrive, because the moment that you feel like you made it in this league, that’s when you’re on your way out. So, he always tells the guys, ‘Keep your head down and keep working, because the moment you think that you made it, you didn’t. You’re out of here.’ So, I can relate to that as well, because going on year 10, I still don’t feel like I’ve arrived, but at the same time, my head is down, I’m just working.”
The receivers on this team get pretty heavily involved in run blocking and seem to embrace that. Is that a big point of emphasis on this team?
“Yes, I think you’re late to the party.”
You hear a bunch of silly questions when you make the Super Bowl, like what kind of sandwich would you be.
“I actually enjoy that more. Up here, you’ve got to watch what you say. Don’t want no headlines.”