Despite earning mid-season All-Pro selections from Sports Illustrated, NFL.com, ESPN.com and Pro Football Weekly, the 49ers right tackle is focused at the task at hand: create running lanes for the 49ers running backs as well as prevent Rams defensive end Chris Long from getting to quarterback
Davis, 23, admitted he’s enjoyed the praise from respected members of the football media, but not as much as others in his family like his mother, Sheronda Davis.
“It’s natural to pay attention, you work so hard at something,” Davis said this week, “but you still have to go to work every day… My mom likes it, probably, but right now I’ve got work to do.”
Davis and San Francisco’s top-ranked rushing offense (168.6 yards per game) will face a stiff test against a St. Louis defense that ranks 12th in sacks (21) and 13th in rush defense (105.5 yards per game).
The latest challenge for an emerging 49ers offensive line is certainly welcomed by Davis, a first-round pick in 2010, who’s started in every game over the past three seasons.
“They’re good,” Davis said, summing up an improved Rams defense. “We’ll see on Sunday.”
First-year St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher previously praised San Francisco’s unique rushing attack and all the variance used in attacking opposing defenses.
Simply put, Davis wouldn’t want to be the opposition.
“I wouldn’t want to be a defense preparing for it,” Davis said.
In year three, the 49ers right tackle is as comfortable as ever in the weekly challenges he faces against some of the league’s top edge pass-rushers.
“You get used to seeing things,” Davis explained. “You know how it’s going to smell on gameday, you know what you’re going to be seeing, the atmosphere, it’s just different.”
The improvements made by Davis are appreciated by offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who spoke at length about his right tackle’s positive strides on Thursday.
“Anytime you draft a player with ability who’s young like that, it’s all about the development of the player,” Roman said of the player the 49ers traded up to draft with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
“With Anthony, he loves football. I’ve said this before, he’s a guy who I’d love to have him escort me into a conflict because I know he’s going to back me up. He’s a competitive guy and he’s a team guy. He understands what it means to be a member of a team.”
Roman credited offensive line coaches Mike Solari and Tim Drevno for Davis’ steady development, too.
“Coach Solari, I know it’s November right now because he’s got his beard. I feel like I’m coming to work with Sean Connery every day,” Roman said to an eruption of laughs from the gathered media. “He and Tim Drevno do a great job with the o-line.”
Davis’ surroundings might be easier to adjust to these days, especially continuing his working relationship with San Francisco’s pair of hands-on line coaches, it also helps when the franchise’s all-time leading rusher remains one of the top running backs in the National Football League.
Earlier this week, Gore praised his offensive line for creating the biggest running lanes he’s ever seen.
The compliment was music to Davis’ ears.
“As an o-lineman, that’s what you want to hear,” Davis said. “It makes you feel good, you just have to keep doing it.”
The 49ers average 5.6 yards per carry, first in the NFL. But in order to maintain that production Davis will be counted on to neutralize Long’s all-out effort.
Roman described the 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive end rather succinctly.
“That guy is a rolling ball of butcher knives – plays with great leverage,” Roman said.
So while technique remains key against one of the NFC’s top edge rushers, Davis has mastered the details of his position according to the 49ers play-caller.
Roman said improvements have been made in everything.
“Stance, his efficiency of movement, his weight distribution in his stance, his eye placement, all the little things before you get to the physical,” Roman shared. “I think he understands things pretty early in the down. He’s picking up things as he goes.”
As a result, Roman gave his right tackle a better endorsement than any media outlet could provide.
“Find a better right tackle that’s playing better than him,” Roman said. “He’s really come a long way in everything.”