San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick arrives with teammates Sunday night at the Louis Armstrong International Airport for Super Bowl XLVII.
(Photo: David J. Phillip, AP)
NEW ORLEANS --They acted like they've been here before, even though only two players on the San Francisco 49ers have won a Super Bowl ring.
Offensive tackle Joe Staley noted that there was a purposeful lack of players getting off the team charter and acting like gawking tourists as the team arrived at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
No players using video recorders, no making the trip bigger than any other road trip.
"That's the way we were approaching this," Staley said. "Nobody said anything. We're not down here to have a good time. We're here to compete for a Lombardi Trophy."
Staley said that a nightly curfew for the team kicks off Tuesday.
It helps that the 49ers have a guide to tell them how it's done. Center Jonathan Goodwin won a Super Bowl ring with the New Orleans Saints in the 2009 season before joining the 49ers as a free agent in 2011.
Coach Jim Harbaugh had Goodwin speak to the team about his experience and his advice for playing in one of the biggest events in sports.
"I just told them it's an unbelievable feeling. It's hard to put into words," Goodwin said. "Winning the NFC Championship Game was great. But winning the Super Bowl is probably 100 times better. I just shared with them that we want to come down here, and it's a business trip. It's not necessarily to have fun. It's to win a football game.
"We have to stay focused throughout the week and try to accomplish the goal we set in training camp."
And they're doing it with a player who was battling for the backup quarterback job in training camp, Colin Kaepernick, whose oversized picture adorned a garage wall of the 49ers team hotel.
"It's amazing. He was the backup quarterback a couple of months ago, and now he's the guy who's going up on the walls and stadiums," Goodwin said, smiling. "Hat's off to him. In the two seasons I've been in San Francisco, he's been a hard worker.
"He works his tail off and deserves every bit of success he's getting."
And it's the hard work that allows the young quarterback to perform well when the stakes are high.
"Pressure comes from not being prepared," Kaepernick said. "(Wide receiver) Randy Moss has been in my ear, telling me, 'Just go out and play like yourself.' He wants to make sure I play my game. It helps that we're a family. We're around each other more than we're around anyone else.
"For me, this week is, 'Head down, keep working.' It's what my dad always told me: 'Stay focused on what you need to do to win.'"
There was no better example of that mind-set than when the 49ers trailed the Atlanta Falcons 17-0 in the second quarter of the NFC title game only to come roaring back led by cool, calm and collected Kaepernick, who never flinched.
Jim Corbett, USA TODAY Sports