Without the contributions of rookie quarterback Nate Davis and veteran safety Mark Roman, the 49ers probably would not have beaten the Dallas Cowboys 20-13 last Saturday night.
Both the beginner and the seasoned vet made big plays that helped the 49ers improve to 3-0 in the preseason. And for that, they've been named 49ers.com's offensive and defensive players of the week.
Davis, the 49ers fifth-round pick out of Ball State, entered the game in the middle of the third quarter with the 49ers trailing by seven points. But for the second week in a row, he began to move the team instantly. Davis' first drive resulted in a Kory Sheets 1-yard touchdown leap.
From there, the 6-1, 226-pound signal caller continued to make plays with his arm and his legs.
Trailing by three points in the fourth quarter, Davis led the 49ers on a drive that resulted in the game-tying field goal. And later, Davis drove the 49ers on an 8-play, 91-yard drive that saw Sheets score his second touchdown of the night and the 49ers take the lead for good.
"It's a great accomplishment to be the MVP," Davis said after he found out the good news on Tuesday. "What I did was study hard for that gameplan, then I went in there to try and do the best I could."
Not only did Davis bring the 49ers back in the second half, it was his second come from behind victory in as many weeks.
"It feels good but you just got to have confidence," Davis said. "When you get in that huddle, you have to make sure that everyone has confidence and you will do fine in pressure situations."
The 49ers certainly are growing more confident in Davis with each preseason performance.
To date, Davis has completed 19-of-32 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown.
"I'm picking things up very well," Davis said. "I still have some struggles, but the thing is, I just have to keep putting the extra time in and that's what I've been doing."
Davis credited 49ers quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson for his early development. Without the help of his new position coach, Davis might not experience the success he already has.
"He's been helping me with everything. It's great to have a coach like him," Davis said of Johnson. "He's put everything in picture form and that's the best way for me to learn."
Another aide in Davis' development has been his use of receiver gloves on the playing field. It's been widely publicized how Davis throws without using the laces. But the gloves he began using in college have helped him grip the football much better throughout his career.
Davis tried to go without the gloves for his first preseason game in the NFL against the Denver Broncos, but it didn't take him long to put the gloves back on.
"I felt good in training camp without the gloves. Then the first preseason game came, I went on the field and starting throwing the ball and it was really slippery," Davis recalled. "So, then I went and put my gloves on. When I play with gloves on, it feels like I don't have them on at all."
As for the other MVP of the Dallas game, he wears gloves too. And that might be the only thing that Davis and Roman have in common.
Roman, a 10-year pro, has been through it all in his career. Different teams, different coaches and now a different role, as a backup. Through it all, Roman has proven to be a valuable asset to the 49ers since he signed with the team in 2006.
But no matter what has happened to Roman, he continues to play football, because that's what he knows best.
"Mark is a savvy veteran," starting strong safety Michael Lewis said. "He knows the defense in-and-out."
Lewis said Roman knows the game so well, he could "definitely see him coaching once he's done playing."
But until that day, Roman has plenty of work to do as the 49ers primary backup at both safety positions behind Lewis and starting free safety Dashon Goldson.
When Lewis went down with a mild concussion against the Cowboys, Roman filled more than adequately.
He led the team with five tackles and made a key interception that took points off the board for the Cowboys in a game that was decided by a touchdown.
"It's two-fold," Roman said of his interception on a Tony Romo deep ball just in front of the 49ers end zone. "It's something that we've been preaching as a defensive unit to get pressure.
"The pressure is what gets the ball turned over and that was an exceptional example of it. Parys [Haralson] got in on the quarterback and made him make a quick throw he wasn't ready to make. I read it, made the play and gave the offense the ball."
Once Roman hauled in the interception, all he saw was green grass, 57 yards to be exact. All things considered, it took a lot of effort on Roman's part to return the takeaway into Dallas' territory.
"It was a long time to run, especially when you had to back pedal twenty yards before that," Roman joked. "It was a long run, but it was a good play up front and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time."
Roman was also in the right place on several running plays, something he takes a tremendous amount of pride in contributing to the defense.
"That's in my job description. I don't shy away from contact or anything like that," Roman said. "The guys up front were doing their jobs and holes were opening up and that's my job to fill them and that's what I was doing."
And while Roman has been replaced in the starting lineup by Dashon Goldson, Roman understands that his priority is to contribute to the betterment of the team in any shape or form.
"That's what it's about, at the end of the day this is my job and it's what I have to do," he said. "Although things aren't what I would like them to be, I've just got to make the best of it. When my number is called, I'll make the play and go on with it."
And when Roman's number is called this season, he's teammates already know what he's all about on the football field.
"We know we'll be fine because Mark is on our level," Lewis said. "Mark can step in and get the job done. That's how I feel and I know he feels the same way."