Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers loose and 'locked in' for NFC Championship Game


SANTA CLARA -- It might be the biggest game of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career, but it’s just another week for the 49ers' quarterback and his team. 

Just like it has for most of the season, the team went through the same exact routine of meetings and practice on Wednesday. The mood in the open locker room was as lively as ever, showing no change from the weeks prior. 

Music was playing. Emmanuel Sanders was shooting baskets at the hoop over his locker. Players were joking around with each other and Kendrick Bourne was going through his daily routine of customizing his practice gear. 

On the field, the usual suspects were dancing as calisthenics started. Players went through the same warm-ups and stretching order as they've had since OTAs. The younger players kept the atmosphere upbeat while the veterans brought out an underlying calm. 

“Definitely, you feel it in there,” Garoppolo said. “It’s definitely a loose atmosphere, but that's kind of how it's been all year. Guys are loose, but they are locked in at the same time. It's a unique combination. We have the guys that are able to do it.”

Coach Kyle Shanahan believes the challenge posed by the second half of the 49ers' regular-season schedule mentally prepared his team for the playoffs. He has kept the players’ schedules as similar to the regular season as possible. 

“Our players have handled it pretty good all year,” Shanahan said. “I know by this background and these helmets next to me there's a lot more dog and pony show and stuff, but hopefully our players know it's just Wednesday like it's been all year and tomorrow will be Thursday.”


Sanders, who has quite a bit of experience in the postseason, noted that he doesn’t feel any added pressure or stress. 

“I don't feel it ramping up,” Sanders described. “It's crazy. Doesn't even -- it just feels like another regular-season game. Like I said, I feel like even in the regular season it was like playoff football. It was so much pressure and us having to perform and trying to get the No. 1 seed that you just kind of get used to it, right? Every week has been a big week.”  

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Garoppolo, as usual, shared a few laughs at the podium before getting down to brass tacks when answering questions. He remained unflappable, never showing any signs of nerves or stress. 

“It's no different than any other week,” Garoppolo said. “We’re coming out here Wednesday, ready to roll and preparing our ass off. I think guys are locked into the preparation with the game plan going in today. Guys are locked in, they are focused up and we are in a good spot right now.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)

Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 6:30 p.m.