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Super Bowl 2013: Courtney Upshaw loves John Harbaugh's leadership

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports



(on Harbaugh’s coaching style) "You have that extra leadership. Our team is full of leadership and as a young guy, you have to buy into that leadership and listen to the older guys."

(on defending the 49ers’ unique offensive sets) "We just have to go out and have the coaches put us in the right position to make plays and to try to stop that offense. They’re a good offense so it’s not going to be easy. We watch the tape, so we see what they’re doing and what teams have success doing but those guys have had success so you’ve just got to go execute the game plan.

(on winning a National Championship at this exact spot last year) "It was great. I’m in the Super Bowl now so I have to put that feeling behind me and try to win this Super Bowl come Sunday.

(on the feeling of winning a National Championship with a dominant Alabama team) "That defense was dominant. The way we came out and played that game and the atmosphere here too. Winning the MVP was great."

(on seeing some of his Alabama teammates go before him on day 1 of the NFL Draft) "I was disappointed. Honestly, I’m not going to lie to you, I was disappointed. I went back to the hotel, and a couple people with me and my agent prayed a lot about it. I was hoping Baltimore would take me the next day and that’s what happened. I’m here now, so I can’t look back on what didn’t happen in the first round of the draft.

(on the road to the Super Bowl with Ray as their leader) "Being along with Ray and Ed, you grow up wanting to be those guys playing backyard football. I say that all the time, but just the leadership here, to go from Alabama to the leadership here, there is not too much difference. Me being a young guy, I just bought into it and we are here in the Super Bowl now.

(on the similarities between the Alabama and Baltimore defenses) "Like you said, there are not too many differences with this team and with Coach Saban back in the day. They’re kind of similar. This is a hard, tough and physical defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed back there. You’ve got guys like Dannell Ellerbe who I look up to for his play on the field and for the kind of guy he is off the field.

(on what he has learned specifically from Ray Lewis) "To be a pro about any and everything. When going into the weight room to get extra reps, studying film and just knowing what you have to do and knowing what’s coming on the field."

(on his journey from a difficult childhood to football’s national stage) "I’m always humble, number one. What I say about the Super Bowl is that I have to win it first. Those championships, I won those, but now I’m in the Super Bowl. I’m on a whole different level and I have to execute on the opportunity to win my first Super Bowl. I dreamed it and never thought I would be here. I didn’t even think I was going to go to college to play football and luckily I had people back home that put my name out there and sent my high school film to colleges. I never thought I’d be here to be honest with you."

(on his friendly trash talk with former Auburn linebacker Josh Bynes) "Man, Auburn, Georgia, we talk about all that. You have a lot of Alabama haters around here man. It’s all fun and games. Alabama is on top. They’re tired of seeing Alabama win championships. For me to come here with two, I’ve got the upper hand."

(on his time in New Orleans so far) "The week has been good. We got in yesterday after a good send off. It was great to see all those fans who came out to send us off."

(on having the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl) "I always tell everybody I have to go win it first. That’s what is most important to me now is to win this Super Bowl. I won those championships back at Alabama but now it’s time to move forward."

(on the differences between getting to the BCS Championship and getting to the Super Bowl) "It’s another championship, but this is the biggest stage. As a kid, we grew up dreaming and hoping that we’d be in the Super Bowl. Not too many people in this league get the chance to get to that first Super Bowl. So for me to be a rookie, it’s just unbelievable. I have to execute on that opportunity."

(on the idea of rookie nerves and his feelings as the Super Bowl inches closer) "Going into any game, a regular or preseason game, I’m always nervous before that first snap. Honestly, you just have to go out and do what we do. I’ve been playing football since a little kid, so it’s not the time to get nervous. That’s how you lose games."

(on his approach to preparing himself both physically and mentally for a game) "When I get in that locker room, just minutes before we kick it off, the nerves build up because you are so anxious to get it started. Once I get that first hit in on the kickoff team, then I’m ready and the game has started so it’s time for me to do what I do."

(on the lifestyle differences between Alabama and Baltimore) "It’s the snow. I had only seen snow twice before in my life in Alabama. It’s been great. I live in a nice little community where the neighbors are real good people. The people have been so good to me."

(on media expectations and predictions and how they affect a team’s play) "You can’t really listen to that stuff. You just have to go out there and play your game. For the fans, a lot of people are going to predict and pick the 49ers. If we go out and play our game so you never know what’s going to happen. Honestly, this year throughout the season I learned not to watch TV that much because of the simple fact that they are always rooting against us. We just have to prove everyone wrong once more. It’s definitely motivation. We know what kind of team we have and we know we can be dominant. It’s all about just doing it out on the field."

(on the transition from college football to the professional level) "Early on, I had some issues with my weight and the conditioning. Nick Saban and that coaching staff down there at Alabama does a great job trying to prepare us for this."

(on the experience of playing in the Superdome) "I’m familiar with it. This is my third time playing in here for a football game on this field. I don’t want to say it’s my home field since I’ve only been here 3 times. It was great to win a championship here last year with Alabama. But now it’s time for me try to execute on my opportunity at the Super Bowl."

(on his relationship with Baltimore’s head coach John Harbaugh) "It’s been great playing for coach. I told him after we got that win against the Patriots that I was glad that they brought me in to Baltimore. I’m trying to beat his brother. It’s a team game. We all want to win just for coach, to say he beat his brother, but also to get Ray Lewis a ring and get Baltimore another trophy. "

(on the differences in coaching styles between Nick Saban and John Harbaugh) "They will get on you. I say that first hand. At Alabama, I had my share of run-ins with coach, especially as a freshman. In my rookie year, coach Harbaugh has got on me a few times. I’m just trying to do things the right way and be a pro about a lot of things."

(on what he looks forward to most about being New Orleans besides playing in the Super Bowl) "Well, this is my third time here. I’ve done it all. I had the food and enjoyed Bourbon Street after the win last year.

(on being a part of a team with Ray Lewis as its leader) "In this game of football, you have to execute on your opportunities. You dream about being a part of team like this, ever since playing in the backyard with the Ray Lewis jersey on. It’s a great feeling.