San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis became an instant sensation in the 2011 NFL Playoffs during his two impressive performances. In the 49ers’ two playoff games last postseason, Davis caught 10 of the total 15 targets he received from quarterback Alex Smith for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns. Most notably, Davis had 7 catches for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns against the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round, including the game-winning TD grab.
However, this season, Davis’ involvement in the Niners’ offensive attack grew limited once Colin Kaepernick came in at quarterback. In the nine games Smith started this year, Davis received 27 targets. In the seven games Kaepernick started, Davis received just 18 targets.
In the NFC Championship game, there was a different storyline. Davis’ sleeping giant awoke and erupted against the Atlanta Falcons for 5 catches on 106 yards and 1 touchdown. One could say the former Maryland Terrapin was the X-Factor in San Fran’s 17-point comeback victory.
Moving forward to the Super Bowl, Davis can yet again be the X-Factor for head coach Jim Harbaugh. Davis has now compiled a pretty impressive resume that proves he’s a big-time performer in big-time moments. What bigger moment is their than the Super Bowl? Tight ends also tend to be the most consistent target for inexperienced quarterbacks. While Kaepernick doesn’t play like one, he is an inexperienced quarterback making just his 10th career start in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. If things go stale for the 49ers’ offense, Davis can be a security blanket for Kaepernick to throw too.
Considering the Baltimore Ravens will most likely look to stop the Niners’ ground attack first and force Kaepernick to beat them with his arm and decision-making, Davis should play a huge role in San Francisco’s game plan, and could prove to be an X-Factor.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Columnist for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.