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Vernon Davis Benefits from WRs

Posted Oct 10, 2012

NFC title game talk was rampant at Vernon Davis’ Wednesday press conference. Reporters wanted to know how the 49ers tight end viewed last season’s NFC Championship game loss to the New York Giants – they wanted to know if the outcome still lingered.

Davis admitted the bitter taste of defeat was in his mouth for some time. However, the difficult circumstance made him hungrier for future success with his San Francisco teammates.

The tight end simply said it wasn’t the 49ers time.

One would argue it’s been Davis’ time during his 23 games under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Against New York alone, Davis caught three touchdowns in two games against the Giants. On Wednesday, Davis made it clear that he wants the offensive side of the ball to continue the strides being made in recent weeks.

Davis also wants it to show on the field against the defending Super Bowl champs.

“It’s important we attack them fast and we take care of our responsibilities,” said Davis, who has eight touchdown catches in his last seven games, including the 2011 playoffs. “I think we owe it to the defense, because they saved us a lot last year.”

The 49ers defense was a major reason for the team’s 13-3 regular season a year ago and has continued its dominant ways in 2012. The unit has allowed a combined three points in its last eight quarters of play.

Offensively, San Francisco has also raised its play as evidenced by last week’s 621-yard performance against the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers broke a franchise record for net yards gained and became the first team in league history to rush and throw for more than 300 yards in the same game.

Jim Harbaugh sees his offense growing right before his eyes.

“My personal opinion is that our players outperformed what we thought was coming,” the 49ers coach said. “Their skill, their talent, was the greatest share. And they probably did better than what we thought.”

In Davis’ estimation, the biggest reason for the offensive success is the emphasis on unselfish play.

Davis spoke of his selfish mindset that stuck with him in his year early years, saying, “I didn’t know, I was trying to find myself…I had to change some things and when I changed, everything started to work out.”

Now as one of the leaders on the offensive side of the ball, Davis sees teammates like Randy Moss doing everything in their power to help the team.

“Everyone’s about the team,” Davis pointed out. “Randy’s not worried about how many catches he’s getting – I’m not worried about how many catches I’m getting. As long as we win, I’m having a good day, that’s what it’s about – it’s about winning.”

Fellow tight end Delanie Walker is a perfect example of 49ers players being unselfish. Walker didn’t record any catches in last week’s 45-3 win over the Buffalo Bills, but Harbaugh still praised Walker’s efforts in doing the dirty work, like springing key blocks for fellow teammates.

“As long as we’re getting the ‘Ws,’ you can’t complain,” said Walker, who has four catches for 39 yards this season. “I take pride in doing everything on the field. As long as I’m playing, I’m happy.”

Davis doesn’t see teammates moping about stats, he sees players eager to contribute to the greater good.

“That’s what makes this team unique,” Davis began, “you become closer to guys when you know they’re about the team and not about themselves. We just want to win games.”

Also making things easier is the additional receivers. In Davis’ case, perimeter speed has enabled the 49ers tight end to succeed on a weekly basis. So far this year, Davis has caught 20 passes for 303 yards with four touchdowns. Davis’ four touchdowns rank tied for third in the NFL.

“We’re a lot better than last year,” Davis said. “We have something to work with this year, a lot more than last year. I keep my faith in the offense; we’re going to leave it to ourselves to figure it out and pull through and make it up to our defense.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge to the 49ers this week, other than an opportunistic Giants defense which ranks 21st in total defense (372.8 yards per game), Alex Smith’s injured finger is a situation worth monitoring.

Smith, himself, said the middle finger on his throwing hand is “doing alright.”

Smith played catch on both Tuesday and Wednesday and said it’s something he expects to improve throughout the week. On gameday, Smith will likely wear tape on the finger for added support.

Even before the injury, however, Davis appreciated Smith’s toughness and leadership.

“I’ve always thought Alex was a warrior,” said Davis of Smith the NFL’s quarterback rating leader at 108.7. “I believed in him. To me, he’s just doing a terrific job, leading this team, stepping up and doing what’s right for the team. He wants to be successful; he’s doing everything Coach Harbaugh is asking him to do and more.”

With Smith executing the gameplan flawlessly (six interceptions in his last 21 regular season starts), the 49ers have looked to attack opposing defenses in a number of ways. In recent weeks, the attack has been more of the vertical variety. As a result, the 49ers offense moved up to No. 6 overall in total offense (401.2 yards per game) and 27th in pass offense (205.4 yards per game).

The recent rise in production will be tested against a Giants team that features one of the league’s best pass rushers in defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Harbaugh is impressed with New York, team-wide, not just the feared pass-rusher.

“Just a real good team,” the 49ers coach said. “Not putting anybody into any molds, us or the Giants. Outstanding football team in all phases, offense, defense, special teams. Resilient team. Good football team. I think that sums up all the good characteristics about them, and hard to pay a higher compliment to them than that. Just good football team, encompasses a lot of characteristics.”

In knowing how talented New York’s roster is on any given Sunday, Davis understands it’ll take a collective effort to dethrone the defending champs.

“We have to do it together – no one can do everything out there by themselves – we have to do it collectively, as a team,” Davis said. “That’s what it takes.”

Davis is confident the group can make it happen based on the recent stretch of play with Smith under center and his perimeter players opening up things with production down the field.

“If we’re in the right spot,” Davis said, “Alex will deliver the ball and we’ll make it happen together.”

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