Fourth-year defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has seen his playing time increase each year of his NFL career. With more responsibility in the defense’s success this year (best scoring defense in the NFL allowing 13.4 points per game), Jean Francois has continued to prove critics wrong who only look at him as a seventh-round selection.
Jean Francois discussed his development and a number of other topics in the latest Niner Talk podcast. In our conversation, the improving defensive linemen talked about the importance of this week’s game against the Saints.
Jean Francois is especially eager for this week’s matchup with New Orleans because it will bring him back to the Superdome, the same place he won the BCS National Championship MVP award for his efforts over Ohio State in the 2007 game. The Miami native still has a soft spot in his heart for New Orleans and offered dining tips for 49ers Faithful looking to make the trip this Thanksgiving weekend.
Jean Francois also explains his favorite Thanksgiving traditions and the reasoning for his middle name, Barkley.
For the New Orleans Saints perspective, we welcomed Jeff Duncan, Saints columnist of the Times-Picayune to hear his thoughts on the numerous improvements New Orleans has made in recent weeks after an 0-4 start.
Click here to listen to the Niner Talk podcast, which is also available on our 49ers Gameday live App.
Here are some of the highlights from both interviews.
RICKY JEAN FRANCOIS
[:50–Jean Francois’ thoughts on Aldon Smith’s big performance on Monday night.]
“I almost felt like Muhammad Ali’s trainer. Seeing Aldon Smith get 5.5 sacks, I was cheering him on. And just to see Justin Smith go out there and do what he do, it was great just to see everybody do what they do. But to see Aldon Smith get 5.5 sacks – that was amazing. I walked up to him during the game and said, ‘Just in case I never get to tell you this again, but I’m going to say it today, It’s amazing playing with you and seeing what you can do when you put your full craft together. When you put everything together, you can do anything you can possibly do. To get 5.5 sacks in a game and to be on the same team with you is amazing.’”
[2:50 – Jean Francois’ thoughts on returning to New Orleans.]
“It’s going to be wonderful, it’s going to be nice. I was just there recently for the Essence Fest and it was a beautiful time being there. Now going back to play in the Superdome, it’ll remind me of playing in the BCS bowl game, or the year before that, playing in the Sugar Bowl. It’s going to be wonderful to go back. It’ll bring back all the memories with all the (LSU) guys. Now I’ve got a new set of guys to have fun with, probably try to find some food places. One thing I’ve got to go find is beignets, I’ve got to find my spot. I’ve got to go to the French Quarter and find the beignets. You might see me with two-three bags – I’m not greedy – I need to get something in me from Louisiana.”
[7:20 – Duncan’s thoughts on the Saints preparing for a playoff rematch vs. the 49ers.]
“Publically there’s no question the Saints are just trying to focus on this game, but rest assure privately they remember that game well. I know the fans here certainly remember that game. That was a bitter loss. It was just a terrific game, an incredible game on both sides. I thought it was extremely well-played, a lot of big plays. The Saints know if somehow they could have escaped with a victory they would have had a chance to get the Giants in the Superdome and that was a team that just a month or so earlier they had blown out there on that very same field. I think they felt confident they could have gotten back to the Super Bowl. Who knows? Maybe they would’ve gotten another Super Bowl title. So that one stuck with the Saints, it was a very bitter loss and I’m sure they’re going to be out for revenge this Sunday.”
[11:30 – Duncan’s thoughts on the Saints playing with a greater sense of urgency after 0-4 start.]
“You see the sense of urgency that was frankly missing during the start of the season. I think the Saints had a little bit of a sense of entitlement. I think they thought they could just kind of roll the ball out there and pick up where they left off a year ago. I don’t think they really understood the impact of not having Sean Payton and Joe Vitt on the sidelines. All those things. In fairness, who would know what to expect? It was an unprecedented situation, but right now there is that sense of urgency, there is that hunger. I really think it’s a good scenario for the Saints. I think the Niners are more talented, but coming off a big, emotional win going all the way across the country, they’re going to be walking into a hornets’ nest in the Superdome. I’m sure that place is going to be rocking, they’ve been laying in wait for this game. Not necessarily the team, but the fans. It’s going to be a really hostile environment for the 49ers. I think the Saints really couldn’t have a better set of intangibles going into this game.”
Tags: Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ricky Jean-Francois
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