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Vernon Davis to Factor into Panthers Rematch

Posted Jan 7, 2014

Vernon Davis expects to have a much bigger role against Carolina than what he experienced in Week 10 of the regular season.

Vernon Davis didn’t play a full game the last time the 49ers faced the Panthers.

San Francisco’s Pro Bowl tight end suffered a concussion in the second quarter of a 10-9 home loss to Carolina. The 49ers could have used Davis' play-making ability that day.

Davis made his second Pro Bowl in 2013 after catching 52 passes for 850 receiving yards and a team-high 13 touchdown passes in the regular season. Davis continued to impact the passing attack last week. He hauled in two passes for 37 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown catch in the NFC Wild Card win over the Green Bay Packers.

READ: Key Storylines to 49ers-Panthers

Davis has caught 14 touchdown passes in the 16 games he’s appeared in this year. It might as well as be considered as 15 games and a quarter considering his limited playing time against the Panthers.

Davis caught one pass for two yards in that Nov. 10 defeat. The athletic tight end had the back of his head slam on the Candlestick Park turf on a short pass in the flat. Davis fumbled the ball and did not return to the game after the head injury.

San Francisco’s play-making weapon figures to be a much bigger factor in the upcoming rematch with Carolina.

“I can’t wait,” Davis told reporters on Tuesday. “I’m excited to get back in there. A fresh new start, we can play the game all over again. It’s another opportunity to take on the Panthers.”

Davis wasn’t the only key player missing from the Week 10 loss. Michael Crabtree was still on the PUP list and Aldon Smith had a limited role in his first appearance following a five-game leave of absence.

“We’re excited with what we have at the moment and where we’re going,” Davis said of how the play-makers have impacted the team’s current seven-game winning streak. “It’s obvious we have guys who we didn’t have. Aldon Smith, (Michael) Crabtree, are back in the mix.”

Davis said both players added value to the 49ers playoff run. The 49ers tight end couldn’t help but repeatedly mention how “excited” he was about the opportunity to face the Panthers for a shot at a third consecutive NFC title game appearance.

Although San Francisco enters the matchup as the higher-seeded team, Davis believes a road-warrior mentality will play into the 49ers favor.

“We’re ready for any occasion,” the eighth-year pro said. “Any environment, we’re willing to step up and play. All the guys know that you only get one shot. If you miss on the opportunity, we’re going home.”

San Francisco has another opportunity to show its mettle against a Carolina team that also finished the regular season with a 12-4 record.

The NFC South Champions have been off for a week, while the 49ers are coming off a 23-20 comeback road victory.

PHOTOS: Carolina's Starting Lineups

Davis sees his teammates being eager to start fast on the road and continue the winning ways away from home.

“We can’t come out flat,” Davis said. “This is it. If you lose this game, you’re going home. It’s simple. It’s plain. It’s right there and guys know it.”

Davis knows what it means to being in the postseason and he knows his teammates aren’t taking this opportunity lightly either.

“I believe the guys that we have on the team, they’re just desperate,” Davis said. “They’re all-in, especially with what happened to us last year. We got to the Super Bowl, we didn’t pull it off, so now we know that here’s another chance to do it all over again. We must take advantage and we must come through.”



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