Q:** We were hoping that you would wait until 12:12 pm to start your press conference today.
TB: I know what a day. It's not going to happen again, so enjoy that. We'll be in a meeting.
Q: Can you talk about the difficulties with the hard-hitting 49ers secondary?
TB: Yeah [they're] a very hard-hitting group. I'd say the whole defense is that way. It's a very physical defense, certainly at the safety position. We've played Donte Whitner quite a few times and he's as physical as there is. Dashon Goldson, I'm really impressed by his ability – we haven't played them and I've never played against him, but he's really an impressive player. The linebackers they've got are all good, they sack the quarterback and that guy Aldon Smith is on an incredible pace and what a start to a career. So it's a lot of challenges and we're going to have to play our best game. I know all of the guys have been preparing hard the last 24 hours, so we're going to have to continue all the way through Sunday night.
Q: How much does 49ers defensive tackle Justin Smith impact the defense's ability to generate sacks?
TB: Sure, Justin Smith is a great player. He's got a great motor, he's big, powerful, takes up two guys and allows those other guys some one-on-one matchups. He's in there every play. He plays hard, he plays to the end of the play. He's a great player and they've got a great front. There's no real weakness on this defense and they do everything well.
Q: How do you combat that?
TB: You have to do everything well too. That's what happens when you play a team that is as capable as they are. They've had a great season. They had a great season last year and that defense is a huge reason why.
Q: You have been in a similar quarterback situation that the 49ers find themselves in now: One guys gets hurt, the new guy comes in and does well and then the old guy comes back. What is it like to be the guy in your situation?
TB: Am I an old guy or a young guy now?
Q: Back then.
TB: I think individually, as a player, you just try to focus on what you have to do to help the team win. That's your role. When you're on a team, you're supposed to support the team in whatever way the coach needs you to support the team. When you're not playing, you support the guys that are playing. You help out in practice and then when you get your opportunity, you try to go in there and support the team by playing. Ultimately it's about winning games. It's not about an individual; it's about doing what's best for the team. So when you play, you've got to play well.
Q: From a team perspective, is it an awkward situation when the original starter comes back?
TB: Well, it was a long time ago for me, but there was nothing like that on our team. I had great support from all of the quarterbacks, especially Drew [Bledsoe] at the time. I don't really know what's going on in San Francisco.
Q: You said Tuesday morning that you were well on your way to preparing for the 49ers. Did you start preparing earlier than you might have because of the short week?
TB: I did. I did. After our Thursday night game against the Jets, I tried to do a bunch of work on the '9ers. So I put a couple of days in there and actually after the game on Monday night, I felt like I just had to watch their most recent game and I was caught up. So, you try to take advantage of a little extra time, a little planning. [I] probably wouldn't have done that 10 years ago.
Q: How hard is it to look ahead to a particular game, but also stay focused on the next game?
TB: How hard is it? I've done it before, so you just kind of close the chapter and then move on and focus all of your attention on Houston. We had eight days to do that, which was good. And certainly we had extra time with Miami too, so it was just part of time management.
Q: What are some of the things that stand out about the 49ers defense that make them such a good unit?
TB: Well, it's speed, they play well together, they're physical, they stop the run, they rush the passer, they can cover, they create turnovers, they play well in long yardage situations, they're good in the red area. They do everything well. Like I said, they were in the NFC Championship last year and had a great season. They're off to a great start. They won some really tough road games – at New Orleans is tough, they won that one; at Green Bay is as tough as it gets, they won that one. So they can win on the road. They're a very good team.
Q: Does your advanced preparation influence other players to prepare in advance for games?
TB: Other players on our team?
Q: Yes. Do they say, 'Well, Brady's doing it. Maybe it's a good idea to break out some stuff on San Francisco as well?'
TB: I mean it's probably most important for the quarterback position. I don't think the receivers are necessarily doing that. They study what they need to study. I kind of have my own routine and preparation. A lot of guys prepare differently. I know Matt Light, who we honored at halftime last week, didn't watch much film at all. He said it screwed him up. He's one of the best players I've ever played with, so there's something to be said about that too.
Q: What do you learn about your team when they are able to deal with the difficult logistics of flying to London after Seattle or playing against the Jets on Thanksgiving? What do you learn about your team when it is able to focus in and perform well?
TB: Well, it's all about mental toughness. I think that's what it comes down to. You have those situations where you might not feel great or you're flying a long way, but you've got to eliminate all of those distractions and everything. You've got to put it behind you and you're competing against that team: that team is the opponent. This week it's the 49ers. It's not the weather, it's not the rest, it's not the crowd – it's the 49ers. I think as long as you stay focused on them and you focus on what you need to do against them, then you let those other things really take care of themselves. The more you waste energy worrying about a plane flight or weather conditions, it's really a waste of time. You've got to focus on your opponent because whatever you're dealing with, they're dealing with the same stuff.
Q: What are some of the variables that go into a good play-action pass and play fake?
TB: I think for the most part when you play-action pass [is] you better be able to run the ball. That's the most important thing, is the threat of us handing the ball off. You hand it off, you hand it off, you hand it off and the safeties and the corners go, 'Wow, I better get up there and try to make some tackles or else they're just going to run it all the way down the field.' Then you play-action pass and you get guys open and there is distribution in the passing game in terms of where your receivers are at, more so than in any other facet of the game. You're not going to get it on a drop back pass. Brandon [Lloyd's] touchdown, for example, you're not going to have a guy that wide open if you're not on a play-action type of play. The better you run the ball, the better you are going to be at play-action passing and vice versa.
Q: What are some of the major difference between the 49ers defense and the Houston Texans defense? Are they similar or are there one or two things that you will have to prepare for that you did not have to worry about last week?
TB: Well, they're different schemes and different players. I think they both rush the passer well, I think they're both good in coverage. That's why you win a lot of games: because you're really fundamentally sound in all of those areas. But in terms of style, they are very different teams. But it's equally as big of a challenge for us to be able to go out there and execute against a team that really doesn't have many weaknesses.
Q: Your defense has allowed fewer and fewer points over the last few weeks. What have you seen from the defense's development in practice?
TB: They're gaining a lot of confidence. I talk to Vince [Wilfork] every week, and Jerod [Mayo], and they have a lot of confidence in what they're doing. They've really settled in and they're playing great football. They've got us the ball a bunch of times on turnovers, which is really critical to our success and hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q: What are your thoughts on Donté Stallworth going on Injured Reserve after his strong performance and the team's ability to add someone you are familiar with to fill his spot?
TB: Yeah that's a bummer for Donté. He was so excited to be back and he makes a great play and gets injured on the play. So that was disappointing. But I haven't heard anything on Deion [Branch], to tell you the truth. If we have, then that's from you, not from me. If so, that'd be great.
Q: You grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and there have been a lot of comparisons between you and Joe Montana. How do you feel about that?
TB: I don't think about that much at all. I don't think about comparisons much. I really don't.
Q: What was your mentality when you replaced Drew Bledsoe?
TB: Like I said, you just try to focus on your job. There are a lot of players that you count on and depend on you and you depend on them. That's what makes it a team game. That's why the best teams win the most important games: because they've got a group of players that are committed to doing their jobs. Like I said, if your role is to play quarterback, your role is to play quarterback and you've got to do as best you can. If your role is to play scout team running back, that's what your role is. Until that role changes, you just do it the best you can do.