When the Bears realized they were going to lose special teams Pro Bowler Corey Graham in the offseason, they set their sights on one man: San Francisco linebacker and special teams standout Blake Costanzo. The signing paid off, as he is a popular man in the locker room and a powerful force on the field.
As the Bears prepare to face the 49ers in San Francisco on Monday, Costanzo spoke with RedEye about his former team—and the impending dance-off prior to the opening kick.
Talk about meeting 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh for the first time.
I don't really remember it too much, because it was during the lockout when we got back [to team facilities], and free agents had to sit out for a couple of days at the beginning of training camp. But he's the kind of guy who's going to say what's on his mind, say how he feels, and that's who he is.
The funniest story I have [about Harbaugh] is when they used to bring in receivers and quarterbacks, he would go out and do the workouts with the quarterbacks. Or he would throw to the receivers. Just watching him do that, you can tell he still misses playing the game.
Is that unusual? I saw Lovie in shorts two days ago. Does he get out there?
Lovie gets out there, but he's not throwing the balls or running and tackling guys. Harbaugh, I guess, just wanted to throw to receivers and thought he could do the workout with the quarterbacks. He played for a long time in the league so he knows what it takes to win. When you're winning, things are always great, and they've been winning over there, so things have been going good for him.
And San Francisco QB Alex Smith?
Great dude. Down to earth. Quiet. … Wants to do whatever he can to help win games. Just a great guy. … This is what I realized: I would never judge anybody by what the media says, or until you meet the person, actually. Watching San Fran all those years and hearing all of the negative things about him and how he wasn't a good player, this and that, you kind of go in there and all you have in your mind is what people say about him.
Obviously [his early failures] weren't him—it had to do with a lot of other things. He told me to not really listen to anything until you're actually there and you've seen the person play, seen them in practice and what not.
So all in all, what is most exciting for you about playing the Niners?
I'm most excited for the first kickoff or kickoff return. They like to dance, so we're going to dance right back at them and bring it to them.
They like to dance on the return?
Yeah, the kickoff team dances and tries to intimidate the other team and get everything going. Usually the other team just kind of stands there and waits for them, but we're gonna bring it to them like, "We're ready." We're not just going to stand there and watch them do their thing.
So before the ball is kicked we're going to see dancing?
Yeah. We're fired up. I've got no steps to show you. It's just going to kind of be a thing that you feel when you're out there.
Jack M Silverstein covers the Bears for RedEye. Say hey @readjack.
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