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49ers respond to president's concerns

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Aldon Smith was among several players preparing for the Super Bowl who doesn't see anything wrong with their kids playing football.

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Responding to President Obama's comments questioning the safety of the game, the 49ers' All-Pro linebacker and a few teammates said they'd allow their sons to follow them into the sport.

``It's not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis,'' Smith said Monday. ``It's a physical game. Everybody plays hard. And guys get hit sometimes. That's what we all know coming into the game. We all signed up for it.

``We came out to play football.''

Guard Alex Boone was adamant that football has to be ``physical,'' while adding he believed the league and the players association were attempting to make the game safer.

``If he wants to play, he can play. He can do whatever he wants,'' Boone said of having a son pursue footballs. ``With little kids, you don't really have to worry about them that much. But as you get older, you have to understand the game better.

``I think the NFL is doing a great job with that right now with the little kids, try to teach them now, young, so that they understand. But, it's just football. It's going to be physical.''

While acknowledging he's a football fan, Obama told The New Republic he's concerned about the violent nature of the sport - enough so that if he had a son, he'd think twice about allowing him to play.

``I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' he said.

``In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.''

49ers cornerback Tarell Brown called football ``a dangerous sport,'' but not one he would dissuade anyone from trying.

``I can understand what President Obama is saying, but at the same time, the league is putting in things (for safety),'' Brown said. ``It is a physical game if you are passionate about it and are trained the right way.''

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh joked about allowing his son Jack, now 4 months old, to follow in his footsteps; Harbaugh was an NFL quarterback for 14 seasons.

``If President Obama feels that way, then (there will) be a little less competition for Jack Harbaugh when he gets older,'' said Harbaugh, whose older brother John coaches the Niners' opponent, the Baltimore Ravens. ``That's the first thing that jumps into my mind, if other parents are thinking that way.''

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