On the way to the 49ers' fifth straight loss of the season, tight end Vernon Davis lost his cool.
Davis caught a 7-yard pass on a 1st and 10 play near the end of the third quarter - his fourth catch of the game – when the trouble began. The tight end began walking back to the huddle after the reception, but on the way he took offense to something said by safety Brian Russell, and then proceeded to tap the Seattle defender under his chin.
"I made a play, tapped the guy on his chin — I didn't mean anything by it — but they called a flag," said Davis. "He was talking trash, of course. I didn't take it personally — I wasn't swinging or anything."
Officials flagged Davis for an unsportsmanlike penalty, a foul that head coach Mike Singletary might have been able to swallow had it not been for the tight end's reaction when he returned to the sidelines.
"He said, "What," revealed Singletary.
The lack of owning up for hurting his team rubbed Singletary the wrong way.
"It's something I told players at the beginning of the week," said Singletary. "I will not tolerate players who think it is about them and not the team. We can't make decisions that cost the team, and then come off the sidelines and it's nonchalant. I'd rather play with 10 people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else, rather than play with 11, when I know that right now, that person is not sold to be part of the team. It's more about them, than it is the team. You can not play with them. You can not win with them. You can not coach with them, can't do it. I want winners. I want people who want to win."
Davis headed to the bench, sitting next to an injured Delanie Walker before he was joined by Singletary.
"He said, 'Vernon, you've got to be smart," said Davis. "You can't do things like that.' I guess he didn't see what happened out there. I didn't swing at the guy. He saw from afar, and he probably couldn't tell what happened. He's the head coach. I have to listen to him. Whatever he tells me to do, I have to do."
Apparently, what Singletary told him to do was leave the field because a few plays later, Davis grabbed his helmet and headed for the locker room.
"I told him he'd do a better job for us right now taking a shower and coming back and watching the game than going out on the field, simple as that," said Singletary.
Singletary said he would have to "think about" whether or not Davis would be the starter following the bye.
He also said that Davis attempted to talk to him after the game, but that he told his tight end,
"You don't want to talk to me right now."
Davis ended up missing the entire fourth quarter. Although he respected his coach's decision, he said after the game that he didn't feel like he did anything wrong.
"Not in my eyes," said Davis. "I don't think I did anything wrong. If the coach thinks I did something wrong, then I have to listen to him. He's the boss."