Conversing with Conway, Part I

Curtis Conway considered retirement after the three-year deal he signed with New York last year turned into one frustrating season with the Jets. But the 12th-year NFL veteran said he then asked God to guide him, and the 49ers were there to answer his prayers.

Q: So, Curtis, what do you have planned for yourself here with the 49ers?

Conway: I'm just taking it as I go. I have no expectations other than to go out and work hard and do the best I can to help this team win some games. This is basically the same offense as I was in last year. Nothing's too different about it.

Q: Did you sign with the Niners because this team is a good fit for you?

Conway: It was one of those deals where actually the 49ers were probably a little bit more aggressive. I came and worked out and the day I worked out they wanted to sign me, and I definitely wanted to stay on the West Coast. All that stuff fell right in place.

Q: Growing up in California, have you always wanted to be a 49er?

Conway: I can't honestly say that. I love the opportunity to come out here. I just love playing football. I'm a competitor and I think me being on the West Coast and this being the same offense I've done played in a couple of times, I thought it was a great fit for me.

Q: At this point in your career, why come to a rebuilding team when you could perhaps be a final piece for a serious contender?

Conway: This is where God put me. I prayed about it. I didn't even know if I was going to play this year. It was kind of a 50-50 thing with me this year, whether I wanted to play this year or not. Most of it was like, 'Nah, I'm not going to play this year, especially if I have to go back East.' But after I prayed about it, God put me here, so evidently I'm here for a reason. I don't really know, but I know that I can definitely help this ball club.

Q: Were you considering sitting out this season, or were you considering retiring?

Conway: I was thinking about just stopping, period. You want to be on the team, you want to compete, and the last couple of years have been kind of like a bitter feeling with the game. It's such a business now. A lot of people, they approach it as a business. It's been hard for me in 11 years to approach it as a business, because I love to play the game. When you see the business side of it, that's part of it, but when you see it, it's not really a good feeling. So I was, like, God has blessed me with 11 years, and if I can't stay on the West Coast, then I thought I'd give it up. But evidently, God had a plan for me to be here for a reason, because this opened up for me.

Q: What happened over the last few years to make you feel that way?

Conway: Well, you get on a team, and then you get camaraderie, and then the next thing you know, because of finances, certain guys go, and it's not that they can't play, but that's the nature of the business. It's the business, the money part of it. I was with Chicago seven years, and I mean, you get used to guys, and you get used to a scheme, and then all of a sudden, something pops up, and another player's got to go, and it's all because of business, it's not because these guys can't play. Half of it's business. After 11 years of that, you're just kind of like, 'You know what, financially I'm good, I've played some good years in the league, and another thing, I've got two sons of mine that's ready to play football. So it's a blessing to be here, because like I said, I really want to stay on the West Coast.

Q: Is your desire to play still there? Was that ever in doubt for you?

Conway: For a minute it was. Because I ended up going down to New York and signing a three-year deal. And then you go down there and you have to pick up and learn certain things. And all of a sudden, you're there one year. You want to get in there and you want to make things happen, and I just felt like … like I said, I was blessed with 11 years, and I wanted to be on a team where I was going to be there and we were going compete and we were going to go out there and win. And for me to be on the team for one year, it was kind of like a slap in the face. You know, it's like they give guys two and three years to develop and then you go over there as a veteran, and you get one year, it's kind of like … it's a lot more than just football. Because football, you could play anywhere, but it's all the other stuff that people don't really take (in to account) that plays a factor in you moving every football season. You know, we've got families and stuff like that. I was blessed to play this many years to where I can say, the league has been good to me, it's time to raise my kids.

Q: When you prayed about it, how did the answer come? Did you get a sign, or did you get a feeling?

Conway: Nah, they called. You can't get no better than that. They called and said they wanted to have me come up for a workout. I came up here and worked out, and once I took the physical, and I got back here, they were talking about they wanted to sign me. So, I mean, God answers prayers, you know?

TOMORROW: In Part II of this interview, Conway talks about playing with the 49ers and how he fits in with his new team, along with the opportunity to make a serious climb this season on the NFL's all-time career receiving list.

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