NEW ORLEANS -- The San Francisco 49ers celebrated a significant victory Thursday. They completed a media schedule far more demanding than players new to the Super Bowl experience could have anticipated.
"Thank God," veteran tight end Delanie Walker said with a laugh.
Walker awakened in the 49ers' team hotel at 8 a.m. CT and was seated at an interview table in a downstairs ballroom 20 minutes later. This was his third consecutive morning featuring an hour-long session for the 49ers. He hadn't eaten breakfast. His body was still adjusting from Pacific time.
Walker appeared sleepy when I sat down next to him.
"I didn't think we had to do all this media stuff," he said. "I thought we would probably do it one day and then focus on football, but I guess I was wrong."
Two tables away, dozens of reporters swarmed second-year cornerback Chris Culliver, whose anti-gay remarks earlier in the week stirred controversy and led the 49ers to release two statements denouncing them. With so many reporters surrounding Culliver, other players such as Walker sat alone at their tables for longer than usual stretches.
But the sheer number of reporters was still overwhelming.
"They'll just let anybody in here," Walker said.
The players I approached -- Walker, Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith among them -- said they were eager for Friday, when the teams settle into a more regular game-week schedule. Only the head coaches have media obligations after Thursday.
Walker said he was looking forward to getting some rest. The 49ers and AFC champion Baltimore Ravens were subject to the same media obligations. The NFL staggers the timing for each team. The 49ers had the earlier sessions each day. That was their choice as the home team -- a chance to knock out interviews before the day gets going. Still, early is early.
"We do this and you're exhausted and then we have to go watch film for like two hours or go to meetings," Walker said. "This is a draining period, talking to everybody asking you these questions. We have to turn on the 'on' button to go break down film and take notes. It's difficult."
Walker said he suspected time-zone issues played a role in Seattle and the 49ers falling behind in first halves of playoff road games at Atlanta.
Seattle fell behind 20-0 following a 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The 49ers trailed 17-0 after kicking off at noon PT. Both teams rallied in the second halves.
"It's a big factor," Walker said. "That is why we try to go to the city two days before, but you really can't get adjusted when you ain't used to it. With the Super Bowl, they give you a week to prepare in the city where you are going to play. They want the teams to be equally matched."
The Super Bowl is scheduled to kick off a little after 6:30 p.m. ET.
The 49ers are 6-1 this season and outscored opponents 101-64 in the first halves of games kicking off at 6:30 ET or later. That included a 4-0 record at home in those games. The were 1-2 and held a 20-17 first-half scoring edge in games kicking off in the 10 a.m. PT time slot. Those games were on the road.