Q: Can you talk about your return to San Francisco and what that means to you?
TB: Yeah, I'm excited. It will be nice to see my parents and my sisters, but hopefully we can go out there and win. It will be a special weekend to go out there and play great for our team, and then to have everyone watching is pretty cool for the first time ever, so I'm excited about that.
Q: Is it a surprise you've never played there before?
TB: Yeah, you know we had a chance back in , but it didn't work out, so everyone is excited. My family is excited, so we're heading out this afternoon. A lot of preparation still, getting kind of ready, settled in for the game, getting the game plan tightened up [so we can] try to go out on Sunday and let it rip.
Q: I know you're excited to play in San Francisco, but as a 1-8 team, I'm not sure the 49ers are as excited for your arrival.
TB: Yeah, I think I'd expect their best. I think any time we play a team, we're going to get their best shot and I'm sure they're excited about playing this week. We are too. I don't think you take any team lightly because all these teams are so talented. I've played on a lot of teams where they were 2-12 and we got beat, or 3-11, we got beat. They've been close in a lot of games. They've had a lot of leads in these games, they just haven't closed them out, so we're going to have to go start fast, try to play with the lead, and try to get ahead and stay ahead if we can.
Q: How will you compartmentalize your focuses this weekend having so many friends and family around but also having to focus on the game?
TB: Well I think it's just that. I think you have to understand the reason we're going out there is to play a football game, so there's nothing that is more important than that. Everyone is focused on what our job is, which is to put together a great game for 60 minutes. That's what tomorrow is going to be focused around. It's easier to compartmentalize in my seventeenth year. I've been through a lot of different things with games over the years and traveling different places and [seeing] friends and so forth, but everyone knows we're there to play a game.
Q: At the same time, San Francisco will be honoring a lot of the team's all-time greats before the game. Will you take a moment to appreciate that as they were your childhood football heroes?
TB: Yeah, I think if I run into them, certainly. It wouldn't be sneaking out there when we're in the team meeting or something like that. But certainly, those guys are part of the reason why I love the game. It was a lot of great timing for me to grow up in a time when the 49ers were playing so great and the quarterbacks were so great. They had so many great players and I loved them all. I still do. I think those memories that you have growing up stick with you, and I'm sure stick with a lot of kids who grew up in the Bay Area during that time. I'm still fans of all of those guys and it would be cool to see them if we did.
Q: Is there a part of you that would have liked to play at Candlestick if you had the chance?
TB: I would have liked to play there in 2008. That would have helped me a lot with my injury, but it didn't work out that way. It's still great to go back there and play in the Bay Area. I just have a lot of family and friends so I'm sure there will be a lot of support from a lot of people. I know I have a lot of people coming to the game, so I'll hear them in the crowd maybe when we warm up or something like that. I'm sure I'll hear a lot of where I went to high school. They play a big playoff game tonight. I have some great memories from growing up there, but we're out there to go out there and try to win a game.
Q: How important is your work with trainer Alex Guerrero throughout the week in helping you recover from hits and be able to stay out on the practice field?
TB: It's critical. I mean, I think you have to be able to withstand the hits of a long season. My belief is you put a lot of those things in advance. I don't think you wait until you have a problem and then try and fix it. So I think you've got to try and be really proactive with how you take care of yourself so you can withstand those types of hits. I've tried to put in a lot of work over the years. I know I've talked to you guys a lot about that, but it's really important to me. I try to spread the message as best I can to people who will listen. It may be different than what's being done at different times but it really works for me. I attribute so much of my ability to stay out there is to the work that we do together.
Q: How critical is your constant availability in making sure that you're able to keep up the timing with your receivers and other players?
TB: Yeah, I think it's so important because the only way to improve is to practice. You're not going to improve lying down on the training table doing nothing, so you've got to be out there working with your teammates on the things you're trying to get better at. We always identify the things that we need to get better at so it's good to be able to go out there and practice them so that when they come up you can have confidence to do it with anticipation under pressure when it matters, because you only get one chance to do it. I think the ability to be out there practicing is always important. You know, sometimes you're just not available to do it just based on how you feel but my preference is always to be out there. And you're always trying to build throughout the course of the week to get your body feeling the best it possibly can for those three hours you're playing, even if you're maybe a little more sore at different times. My belief is to always go out there and do the best you can do at practice, keep your body really in-tune with what it needs to do on the weekend.
Q: Your commercial has been very well-received. Is that the reaction you expected?
TB: I think it was just a humorous commercial. I think they've done a pretty good job of that over the years that they've done these ads. It's kind of cool. I grew up watching a lot of those, being at Foot Locker when I was growing up, so when they approached us I thought it was a pretty humorous idea.
Q: Were you worried about the reception it would have?
TB: I didn't think about that much. No, I just thought it was kind of a funny thing.
Q: How important is it for you and Jimmy Garoppolo together to be in sync so that if he has to step in the offense should continue to run seamlessly?
TB: Well, I think everybody counts on the position to be seamless. It's like when I go out there to practice I'm counting on the receiver position to do exactly what we're asking them to do and to run the right routes at the right tempo and right conversion and read the right coverage. So if one guy is in there it looks one way and then if you put another guy in it really looks the same way so it doesn't screw everybody else up. I think Jimmy [Garoppolo]'s done such a great job of working hard to maintain that at the quarterback position when he goes in for certain repetitions because it's important for everybody to stay sharp on the whole team because you never know when your numbers going to be called. Everybody kind of gets reps and everyone tries to improve with each other so that when you get your chance it looks seamless, so that's probably a good word for it.
Q: Are there any worries from you about potentially missing Rob Gronkowski this weekend?
TB: Is he out?
Q: No, but it seems possible.
TB: Maybe you know something I don't know. I don't know, so we'll wait and see.
Q: If you don't have him how much will that hurt the team?
TB: I don't know if we'll have him or not so I don't want to speculate on something I really don't know about yet, so we'll see.
Q: How much does having Martellus Bennett on the field help the team?
TB: He's [Martellus Bennett] been great. He's been so productive for us and I really enjoy playing with him. You talk about a guy that's been out at practice every day. I mean, he's fought through a lot of stuff over the course of the year to be out there, trying to get better and improve. I think it shows a lot of mental toughness but it's showing up with his ability to produce on the field. He's been tremendous so we've got to keep it going. He's got to keep it going. We all do. It's kind of the meaty party of the schedule right now. I mean, this is not the second week of the year. We've fought through it for a long time but this is a chance to really separate yourself from these other teams and show everyone your mental toughness and ability to play through different things, different situations and still play at a high level.