Here’s the transcript of Ray Rice’s Monday morning conference call.
Q: The 49ers haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher or a rushing touchdown this season. What are your thoughts on facing them?
RICE: You look at the other side of the ball and you look at what’s going on over there and it kind of reminds us of our own defense. They take a lot of pride in not only stopping the run, but not allowing a rusher to score a touchdown. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a great challenge, and every yard matters in this game. It’s going to be one of those games where it’s going to be a slugfest. We know it’s going to be a challenge and just looking forward to the opportunity.
Q: Have you had a chance to look at the 49ers defense and why they’ve been so effective against the run?
RICE: They’re playing great team football. They’re not giving up the big run. You’ve got to look at the way Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman are playing. It’s amazing to see them two linebackers, what they’re doing right now. Their big guys up front are giving them lanes to run down hill and get the run stopped.
Q: Does Patrick Willis remind you of Ray Lewis?
RICE: Yes he does. He’s the closest thing to it. He plays the game the right way. He’s a tenacious player. A lot of respect for that guy. Definitely look forward to the opportunity to play against a guy like that. If you take Ray out he’s the second best linebacker in the NFL.
Q: How well do you think you’re doing right now and how good do you think the Ravens run game is?
RICE: The numbers can be deceptive. We had a long run taken away from us against Pittsburgh, and I just had another 30 yard run called back. When you look at what the numbers are, where they stack, that’s about 100…we left some out there. But I think our run game is doing fairly well. Obviously, each week we’re trying to make improvements and get better. We know what the run does. The run sets up the pass and we have to try to be more consistent.
Q: You guys were more productive on the ground yesterday. What worked so well?
RICE: We stuck with it. We never got down on it. Look at what the 49ers are doing. They’ve got a big running back in Frank Gore and they stick with it with their offensive line. Looks can be deceiving, but as long as you stick with it you end up finding a nice little crease in there once in a while.
Q: Did you guys learn something from the loss against Jacksonville?
RICE: A lot of our offense came from situational football. We can’t find ourselves getting down and turning over the ball. It’s easy to manage a game when it’s close because you can hang your hat on doing different things. When you’ve got to play from behind, I wouldn’t expect them to keep giving me the ball if we’ve got to play from behind because we’ve got to score points. If you at a game like yesterday, it was a close game but then we got up by a few. It’s easy to still have a balance. You’ve got to play situational football. It’s almost best when you can stick with your game plan. If it’s close, find a way to win it at the end.
Q: Are you guys going to be able to take a day off this week?
RICE: No, there’s no days off when you play on Thursday. We won’t kill each other in practice, but it won’t be any days off.
Q: Have you gotten to know Jim Harbaugh at all?
RICE: Yes. It was obviously interesting to see what he’s done at Stanford. I had an ex-high school teammate play for him, so I know what he’s all about. Both brothers are having great success in the NFL. It’s a good sight to see.
Q: Does John Harbaugh use any slogans you could share?
RICE: No. He’s a straight-up guy. They both coach with a passion. You want to play for a coach like that, a coach who’s passionate about the team, passionate about the game.
Q: Out here, Jim Harbaugh brought out blue-collared work shirts. Is that something John did in Baltimore?
RICE: Yeah, we had that out here.
Q: Do you remember when it was and what the message was when he did that?
RICE: It was a simple message. It was in the offseason – not this offseason, it might have been about two years ago. We brought out the blue-collared workman shirts. That’s the kind of guys we want to be. No guy is bigger than the team, and we just come to work every day ready to work.
Q: Do you still have that shirt?
RICE: Yeah, I still have mine. I haven’t wore it in a while but I think guys know I’m a blue-collared guy. I never get too high or get too low. I’m an even-keeled guy.
Q: Do you sense any difference with your head coach the last couple days, given the game that’s coming up and the fact that it’s against his little brother?
RICE: No, I think he’s going to be the same guy. The emotions will be running high. I’m not sure we’ll see any of that middle of the field fighting stuff. I think win lose or draw, those guys are brothers, and it Thanksgiving, it’s time where everyone gives thanks. Obviously everybody wants to win. Every game from here on out is a must-win situation. It’s going to be a challenge. Their record is what it is for a reason. They’re a great team.