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WR Hakeem Nicks on 49ers matchup


Q. They're such a good tackling team, do you think you'll be able to get all those yards after the catch against them?

A:* *Yeah, I think we'll be able to do what we need to do. I feel like we're confident in our run after the catch. They're definitely a physical team; they've got some safeties that like to come down and hit but I feel we'll be good as long as we take care of what we have to do and just catch the ball first and not care who's coming at you.

Q. Is there something special that you do that allows you to get all those yards after the catch?

A:* *Being decisive once I make my move: catch the ball first, once I catch the ball, look up field and make a move from there.

Q. Coach said you have to be careful because they're aggressive and they try to strip the ball out a lot.

A:* *Yeah, exactly. They definitely go for the ball once you get out in front of them and they're trailing behind you; they try to strip the ball. But, you know, we've just got to have ball security.

Q. Coach said Eli had stomach problems today and had to leave practice early, what did you notice about him at practice?

A: I didn't really notice anything about him, honestly. Apparently he had to leave because of his stomach but I don't feel like it was nothing serious.

Q. How much do you think this is going to affect Eli?

A: I don't think it's going to affect him at all. He's alright, he's as tough as they come.

Q. Can you describe the reactions you've been getting about that [Hail Mary] and what do you do for an encore?

A: I kind of just treat it as it is now: it's in the past. But the reaction was that it was a great catch –a lot of people have asked me how I caught it. You know, just great concentration on my behalf; just going up, being physical and strong, going up to get the ball.

Q. How did you reduce turnovers? What was the message from Kevin Gilbride?

A: We studied ourselves. From a receiver's standpoint: it was a lot of tipped balls, not looking the ball all the way in, making moves before you catch the ball, not tucking the ball after you catch it, it was little stuff like that; not getting to the depth point in your route and the ball comes too soon. So we just had to critique ourselves, get back down to the basics: work on the timing, work on looking the ball in once we catch it.

Q. How does the battle with the 49ers' DBs change in the rain?

A: I think it's just paying attention to details in your route. You've got to be more detailed in your route coming in and out of your cut, looking the ball all the way in because the ball could be a little wet, but you know, I think it's just a matter of concentration.

Q. We know you have large hands, how much of an advantage is that? Do you just kind of reach out? Is it an advantage?

A: You can, but at the same time, you can't have large hands and not catch. But it works to my advantage 'cause I'm a hands catcher; I like to pluck the ball out of the air once I see it.

Q. Does mud affect your ability to run?

A: It's just a matter of having your nose over your toes in your route; not leaning back in your route. You might have to switch up your cleats a little bit, get a little bit longer spikes in your cleats to catch you a little bit, but like I said, I think it's just mostly paying attention to details in your route.

Q. We know your hamstring had been bothering you most of the season, when did that stop being an issue?

A: Probably right around that last game against Dallas is when I stopped feeling it. It wasn't great but I was able to start running full stride a little bit and till now it hasn't been bothering me at all so I'm good with that.

Q. Right now you're 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl. Did you always think about playing in the Super Bowl as a kid growing up?

A. I think as I got older in my football career and as I started understanding it more and knowing I was able to go to college to play football, I knew it was always a dream that I wanted to do: to play in the Super Bowl. But we can't look past this San Francisco 49ers team. We've got to take this week and once we get past this week, then we'll look toward that.

Q. You mentioned possibly switching to longer cleats, is that something each player decides on his own or is that something that the team says "we're going to do this"? How does that work?

A. I think it's kind of up to us as players but the equipment staff brings both cleats and we try them out before the game so whichever ones we feel like we need to use or whichever one was the best one for us to use, that's the one we'll use.

Q. How different are the cleats?

A. Just a little longer. The spikes might be a quarter inch or half an inch longer than the other ones, so just longer spikes.

Q. How does it make you feel that as a team you've kind of exceeded expectations this season?

A. It makes me feel good but I think we always knew what we were capable of doing. We know that they put a question mark on us at the beginning of the season but that's what guided us forward through it; when you doubt us, we look forward to stepping up to the challenge and I feel like we've been doing that all season. We've remained humble about it, we're confident in ourselves and we've got a good quarterback to trust in.

Q. With the 49ers having the best rush defense in the league, maybe you have to throw more than you did when you played them earlier this year, how much do you think Eli is looking forward to that?

A. I feel like he's looking forward to it but we're going to remain in our game plan, doing what we have to do. Our running game is going to have to play fast in this game to set the tone a little bit, but I feel like we'll do whatever we have to do to make plays on offense.

Q. How difficult is it to cut back on natural grass and in the mud?

A. I don't think it'll be too difficult. Being a pro, you play in all kinds of conditions. Last week in Green Bay we had to wear longer spikes due to their grass but I think it's just like I said: it's paying attention to details in your routes, having your nose over your toes, being at the right depths during your routes and everything.

Q. Is the mud harder on wide receivers or defensive backs?

A. I feel like it's always to the receivers' advantage because we know where we're going on a route. DB's are just guessing or playing their coverage. So I always feel like it's to the receivers' advantage because we know what we're going to do during our routes.

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