Teammates and coaches surrounded him on the 49ers bench moments after his 14-yard touchdown catch proved to be the game-winning play in a 36-32 NFC Divisional Playoff win over the New Orleans Saints.
Davis needed air. He needed space. He needed to collect his thoughts.
“I knew it right away that I had to step up and be a factor,” said Davis at the podium once his emotions cooled down.
Davis was more than a factor; he was a difference-maker.
With the 49ers trailing by three points with 14 seconds remaining, Davis caught
The hit didn’t matter.
Davis remained with his back in the red-painted 49ers end zone (a San Francisco playoff tradition) with the ball still in his possession.
And once a last-second attempt by the Saints for a touchdown was stopped, the 49ers had done what many outside of the Bay Area thought was unthinkable -- advancing to the NFC Championship game in Jim Harbaugh’s first season coaching in the NFL.
“You’re going to live or die in these games,” Harbaugh said. “We lived.”
Depending on the outcome of Sunday’s New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game, the 49ers could host the Championship game if the Giants win on the road.
But that’ll be figured out shortly.
For now, all the focus was on the big-time plays made by players making their postseason debuts: mainly Smith and Davis.
But Davis made sure to share the credit with his quarterback. He wouldn’t shoulder all the admiration.
“I just made the play,” said Davis, who caught seven passes for 180 yards (the most by a tight end in postseason history) and two touchdowns. “Alex made it happen.”
Smith made it happen even before the most famous pass of his seven-year playing career.
With the 49ers trailing 24-23 in the fourth quarter, down for the first time in the entire game, Smith scored a 28-yard rushing touchdown on a perfect play call from offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
Roman had the play called for a time when New Orleans utilized an overload blitz. He described the play-call as a “50/50 roll of the dice.” Upon hearing of the call, Smith, who loves to utilize his athleticism on quarterback-designed runs, was all for it.
“I loved it,” said Smith, “so I jumped on it.”
Smith didn’t need to jump into the end zone. Once he cleared the left side of the field with Pro Bowl tackle
“I felt Alex played extremely bold,” Harbaugh said. “Might be time to give Alex a little credit, huh?”
Teammates further credited Smith’s performance and his demeanor in making the difference.
Prior to Davis’ 14-yard score, Smith was calming the nerves and encouraging his teammates in the offensive huddle.
“Alex and a couple of the guys were saying to relax and don’t make the moment bigger than what it is,” said former Saints center
The 49ers became the first team in league history to score a pair of lead-changing touchdowns in the final three minutes of a postseason game’s fourth quarter.
“He’s a baller,” Gore said of Smith, his teammate for the past seven seasons. “He deserves it. He’s had a tough time here, but he’s got the right guys leading him and we’re all doing right.”
The heroics of Smith and Davis were just the conclusion of a truly memorable day at Candlestick Park, one that commenced with a live rap performance before the game’s opening kick.
With the 49ers utilizing Future’s “Tony Montana” as the team’s official kickoff anthem, the musician showed up on the Candlestick dugouts to perform the song live.
He went on to do it four times in the first half as the 49ers kicked off four times on their way to a 17-0 lead.
“To have Future there, the guy who does are theme song, it fired us up,” said special teams standout
The feel-good music allowed fans to wave their “Who’s got it better than us?” towels which were passed out to every fan in attendance.
The music, the towels, the energy, all played into the atmosphere.
“I have to give it up to all the fans,” said defensive tackle
Jean Francois considers the win to be a classic game for the ages, one he’ll be pleased to celebrate down the road.
“When you turn your TV in let’s say about 10 years,” said Jean Francois, “this is going to be an instant classic, hands-down. You couldn’t write the script any better.”