The Vernon Davis that we are used to seeing has been relatively quiet this year, as he recorded his lowest statistical output since 2008. However, the former first-round pick has not complained with his lack of touches on offense. Instead, he’s utilized his skill set in other ways to help propel the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Ever since Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback in Week 10, the 28-year-old tight end has disappeared from the passing attack. In seven of Kaepernick’s regular season starts, Davis totaled only 12 receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown.
However, in the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons, Davis’ number was finally called upon, as he hauled in five catches for a team-leading 106 yards and a touchdown. His breakout day could not have come at a better time. It also marked his first multiple-reception performance since Week 13.
Highlights like the game he had in Atlanta have been hard to come by for Davis this year. Often viewed as a dominant receiving tight end, Davis is also an underrated run blocker. The 49ers rushed for 472 yards throughout the playoffs and finished fifth in rushing yards per game during the regular season. The offensive line had a lot to do with their success, but Davis deserves his share of the credit as well. His willingness to get in the way of linebackers and safeties accentuates his selfless team-first attitude.
Davis, who arrived in the NFL as a me-first player, has matured and placed the organization in front of his own needs. San Francisco’s success over the last two years is a reflection of his development as a player and person. Davis’ stats may not fully represent the impact that he has on games, but his presence alone makes his teammates better. With opposing defenses focused on containing him, the likes of Michael Crabtree, Delanie Walker and LaMichael James have taken advantage of their matchups.
Off the field, the star tight end recently opened an art gallery in San Jose, Ca. and established the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts, which sponsors art education and appreciation for at-risk youth. Davis’ eagerness to serve his community is just one example of his growing role as a leader.
After seven roller coaster seasons in the NFL, Davis’ resiliency was rewarded with a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
Perhaps his lowest, and career-changing moment as a pro came in 2008 when Mike Singletary was the 49ers head coach. After getting flagged for a taunting penalty, Singletary sent Davis to the locker room mid-way through the game.
During his post-game press conference, Singletary echoed the now infamous soundbite, “Cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them. Can’t do it. I want winners. I want people that want to win.”
Looking back on those strong statements, those words cannot be further from the truth.