'I say that I'm the best ... with conviction'

Cornerback Nate Clements, the 49ers' newest prize in free agency, discusses becoming San Francisco's latest building block after signing an eight-year, $80 million deal with the team.

On being a new member of the 49ers: "First of all I have to thank God because without him this wouldn't even be possible for me. With the support of my family, the family I'm getting ready to start in, my mother, father, brother, they've always been for me. My father always told me to continue to work hard, ever since mini-league. He said, ‘Just work hard and you'll be a starter in high school and then when you're in high school, you'll be able to pick where you want to go. Just work hard and you'll be able to make it in the NFL. And then when I get here, continue to work hard the next four or five years and make a name for myself.'"

On the pressure of being the highest paid defensive player in the NFL: "No. I don't allow that type of pressure to get to me, especially in the position that I play. There's always going to be pressure going up against that number one guy. I accept it as a challenge. To be honest, I don't put any additional pressure on myself. I just accept it as a challenge and I'm definitely game."

On the mentality of taking on challenges as a cornerback: "That's just me. I'm confident. I'm confident in my ability and what I can do. That's just who I am. I say that I'm the best and I say that with conviction."

On looking forward to facing the NFC West wide receivers: "Definitely. I was talking to my father and just looked back and it was a blessing that I had the opportunity to go against one of the greatest receivers – I can look back and tell my children that I got to play against Jerry Rice. It's a blessing. It's a new breed coming in. The years have gone by pretty fast and it's definitely a new generation and a new breed coming in and I'm definitely looking forward to a challenge."

On the difference that he and new S Michael Lewis can make as part of the 49ers defense: "I feel that we can definitely make a difference. We bring a lot of intangibles with our game to the table. We can both run, cover, aren't afraid to hit and we just go out there and make plays."

On not being injured during his six-year NFL career: "I just keep myself healthy; treat my body right as far as what I put into my system, and just work hard. I feel that if I work hard during the offseason and during the season my body, when it gets down to that stretch from eight weeks on, that's when I can turn it up."

On past injuries in college and high school: "To be honest most of my injuries have come from playing basketball for some reason. But I'm not playing basketball right now."

On possible trade talks between the Bills and 49ers during the 2006 season: "I wasn't really aware. Just from watching ESPN, I think there was a rumor that Tampa was (looking into a trade). What really matters now is that I'm here and I'm ready to play."

On the 49ers showing the most interest in him during free agency: "Not only showed the most interest, but I felt that they were moving in the right direction. This is year seven for me and I've never even had a taste of the playoffs. I'm just a competitor by nature and I just want to get a taste at that next level. I never had experience in that and I feel that this organization is definitely moving in the right direction."

On signing with the 49ers the same day as S Michael Lewis: "We both bring a lot of intangibles. We both have a knack for the ball. He's going to use his strengths and I'm going to use my strengths. Together, it's going to do a lot of damage."

On looking forward to covering the opposition's best receiver: "Definitely. I think that's where I stake my claim. I think it's being up to the challenge that you put your number one corner on my number one receiver and let's go at it."

On having the ability to play both left and right cornerback: "I can do it all. I can play left, right, I work on everything."

On his personality and if it stays the same on game day: "My personality is outgoing and very competitive. On game day it's the same way. I'm relaxed but I'm competitive and I'm ready to go."


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