SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- New Orleans defensive end Dwaine Board has never been one to waste words.
In his years with the San Francisco 49ers, Board was always direct and to the point. When the Saints claimed him off the waiver wire earlier this year, Board showed his hurt, but then quickly moved on.
When asked if it feels any different returning as a Saint to Candlestick Park for Sunday's NFC West title showdown with the 49ers, Board simply replies: 'The number's the same. The color is just different.'
Board toiled for nine years with the 49ers, spending most of that time as a starting defensive end. Between 1983-1985, he was among the league's most feared pass rushers, averaging 11.5 sacks a season over that stretch.
But the last two years were difficult ones for Board. The 49ers seemed to be giving him a strong hint that his days were numbered by first drafting defensive ends Larry Roberts, Charles Haley and Kevin Fagan in 1986 and then Danny Stubbs last year.
'The whole time I was there (with the 49ers) I was never comfortable,' Board said in a telephone interview Wednesday. 'The past three or four years they were always trying to find someone to take my place. They finally found someone who did it. I really wasn't into playing.'
Board was placed on injured reserve Sept. 22 with an ankle injury. On Nov. 18, the veteran was ready to return, but the 49ers faced a dilemma. They had but one free move from the injured reserve list left and wanted to save that to activate tight end John Frank.
It was decided to take a calculated gamble. Board's age (31) and salary ($550,00) seemed to be enough of a deterrent to prevent a team from claiming the veteran off waivers. The Saints proved San Francisco wrong, claiming Board.
'I was on the field (for practice) and they told me to come in, someone had claimed me on waivers,' Board said. 'I was suppose to take a 5:55 (p.m.) flight, but the airport was closed so I didn't get out until midnight. I got into New Orleans in the morning and went right to the Saints facility. I had very little time to think about the trade.'
Since then he's had time to mull over the 49ers decision not to protect him and in typical manner has decided to let any negative feelings quickly pass.
'Nothing surprises me in this business,' he said. 'Any day anything can happen. That's my attitude. I take it one day at a time.'
Board has been the subject of much discussion this week because of his knowledge of the 49ers system. San Francisco coach Bill Walsh said on Monday he felt Board won't share any secrets with his new team because 'he's a 49ers for life.'
But the veteran says in reality there probably is little he could reveal.
'I'm a defensive player, what do I know?' he said. 'All I know is what's left and right.'
Board does admit, though, he still has strong feelings for the 49er players. When asked if he'd level San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana given the chance, Board replied:
'I have a great deal of respect for Joe. He got me two Super Bowl rings. If I get a chance to hit him, I'm going to let him know I'm there. If I'm close to him (and he gets rid of the ball) I'll pull up. I've sat down with Joe for a lot of battles and he's always come through.'
As for his future plans, Board says he's thinking about sticking around for a while.
'I'm planning on playing a lot longer,' he said. 'I feel like I can still play and I have something to prove. I have something to prove to myself.'