The Donovan

Five-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb, now tearing it up again as one of the NFL's top quarterbacks after missing seven games last year with a sports hernia, talks Eagles and 49ers and discusses several subjects surrounding the two teams and Sunday's game at Monster Park, including his take on a certain former 49ers and Eagles receiver whom McNabb referred to only as "the player."

Q: What's the attitude around your team after Sunday's overtime loss to the Giants?
McNabb:
The attitude is let's get back on the horse. You look at a game like that, and you learn from your mistakes. I think the best way of handling that is learning, putting that behind you, and then focusing on the next task. We have a task a head of us in the 49ers, a team that's young, but playing with a lot of energy out there. They are coming off a great win against a division rival. We know they are going to be fired up, the fans will be fired up, and it's going to be a big challenge for us.

Q: What's the difference you see in the 49ers defense from last year?
McNabb:
I think everyone has learned the system that the coaches have presented to them. They have now started to believe in one another and you can see the guys feeding off each others energy. Defensively, they are young but they are flying around making plays. Offensively, they are starting to get confidence in Alex Smith and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now. It's still a learning experience, but you can tell they have improved from last year.

Q: Are you surprised how quickly Donte' Stallworth has become a go-to receiver for you?
McNabb:
No, not really. Just learning a little bit more about him as he gets here and learns more about this offense. We're still building our chemistry, working on timing, and building that relationship. That goes for everyone on this offense, and the good things we've been able to do are exciting on the potential side of things. Yet and still we are not where we want to be. There are a lot of plays we left on that field last week that we are looking to correct here in this game, and just have fun.

Q: How tough is it to lose defensive end Jevon Kearse for the season?
McNabb:
It's hard any time you lose a guy that everyone across the league knows and prepares for. He's such an impact player on our defense and on our team, it's a tough loss. When you add in what happened last weekend it builds fire. Guys have understood what happened, and realized the situation that he's in. Guys want to step in and compensate for the loss of a guy like Jevon Kearse. We have confidence in a guy like DE Jerome McDougle, who is going to step in there with Juqua Thomas and the rest of the defensive ends to showcase their talents and make things happen on the defensive side.

Q: What kind of parallels do you see between the learning experiences of yourself and Alex Smith?
McNabb:
Obviously '99 was a tough year for us, and last year was a tough year for the 49ers. It was a learning experience. When Andy and I came in we had a lot of guys who had been playing for a while. Two, three years in, guys begin to have faith and trust in one another and have the confidence that we can make plays. Once we were able to do that on the field, the confidence level continued to rise. From 1999 to now it's a dramatic change, but I see that happening over there. Alex Smith is a great player, and he's going to continue to grow and gain confidence in himself and the offense and good things can happen for him there.

Q: What kind of things are you seeing from your defense?
McNabb:
The things that they can do, and haven't done yet make it exciting for us on this side of town. When you see it everyday in practice, it prepares you going into each weekend. It's still early in the season, and if we continue to keep guys healthy, and they continue to grow each week, hopefully good things will happen and everything will take care of itself.

Q: After last year's disappointing season, does your team have a different mindset this year?
McNabb:
No, we still have that underdog approach. Just two games and it's not like people are picking us to win the Super Bowl or anything. It all starts with confidence over here on this side and I try to portray that and display that all the time to guys. Communicating with guys and making sure everyone is on the same page. Every time we step out on that field, we look to make an impression and a statement. It's a long season ahead of us, and we've already had that approach since training camp and we're going to continue to have that attitude.

Q: What has been your approach to repairing the locker room atmosphere after what happened last year?
McNabb:
What I did was challenge myself to do a little bit more. Although what happened last year, we were still a good team. We took what the dark cloud presented to us with the injuries and things of that nature. You take away the injuries, and the situation that happened off the field, and we're still a top team. When you look back at that and guys begin to communicate and put it behind them, we focus in on our goal. Our goal is to treat everyone the same, go out and play well each week and continue to progress. Obviously the ultimate goal is to get to the Super Bowl and win it, but it takes one game at a time. Guys begin to rely on each other to do their job and have the confidence that the guy next to them can do their job and good things will happen. All I tried to do was get everybody on the same page, work with others, and create an environment that people can feel comfortable in. That and just have fun.

Q: Is Terrell Owens the worst teammate in team history?
McNabb:
No, I wouldn't say that. It's something that we have in common. Again, that's in the past, you guys have put it in the past, and it's a new day.

Q: Do you and Jeff Garcia talk about Owens?
McNabb:
We don't talk about the player. We focus in on what we want to get accomplished over here. We let the player be the thorn in Dallas's side. The player is a couple of hours away from us, so we're not focused on him.

Q: Were you and Garcia roommates in training camp?
McNabb:
Yes, I was one of his roommates in training camp. I think Jeff is a good guy who is passionate about football. He never let's anything so petty bother him even though we were in the same situation. It seemed that every time we communicated and let it out that things said by the player didn't bother us, or what situation was going on by the player, it seemed like everybody else continued to throw negative things at us. Jeff is a guy who is strong-hearted. He cares, and all he wants to do is win.

Q: Does the wide receiver position have the players with the worst attitude and ego? Why does the position seem to bring out the worst in some guys?
McNabb:
I don't know. I never played receiver. In every position there are egos involved. Receivers always feel they are open, and they should get every ball. They also believe they should receive all credit possible, to say they are the best at what they do. If people don't say they are the best, they get upset. I don't know. That's something you would have to ask the player, or someone who plays that position.


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