Following each of the past two 49ers victories, Greg Roman has made a point to seek out Vernon Davis in the locker room.
A look at the box scores will reveal Davis only has two catches in the past eight quarters, but the veteran tight end has still had a big hand in each of the two wins. Roman wants to make sure Davis knows his teammates and coaches appreciate his effort, even if it doesn't result in gaudy numbers.
"I just wait for my opportunities," Davis said. "I know what I can do. I know the ability that I have and the things I can do in this game, but I don't talk about it. The coaches know. I just let them call the shots and I just sit back and play my role and try to be a team guy."
Everyone remembers how Davis finished off 2011, leading the 49ers to the doorstep of the Super Bowl with a historic postseason performance. Davis kept it going to start off 2012, hauling in 20 catches for 303 yards and four touchdowns through five games.
But since the Week 6 matchup against the New York Giants, opposing defenses have taken extreme measures to slow down Davis. He's been the constant recipient of double teams, while defensive ends have made sure to slow down his route running at the line of scrimmage.
"That's something that is affecting him getting the ball," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "But, it's also opened up some other options."
Indeed, other weapons in the receiving game, namely Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss, have benefitted from the heavy coverage Davis is getting from defenses. Crabtree repeatedly took advantage of his one-on-one coverage by Arizona's Patrick Peterson on Monday night and finished with two touchdowns, while Moss added another of his own.
"It was exciting to see Crabtree do some good things out there," Davis said. "Especially Randy Moss. What about Randy? The old man up the sideline with a little two-step then taking off."
In fact, Roman said the extra defensive attention toward Davis reminds him of defenses rolling their entire coverage schemes toward Moss earlier in his career.
"The way I look at it," Roman said on KNBR Wednesday, "if a team's going to change their personality and not do what they want to do or have been doing to make them successful, what an impact that's making on the game."
In the Week 7 showdown with Seattle, Davis was held without a catch for the first time since his rookie season in 2006, a span of 88 games. But he still had a hand in the only touchdown of the game, one which helped the 49ers claim a 13-6 victory.
Delanie Walker scored a 12-yard touchdown on a catch-and-run made possible by the stellar blocking of Davis, who engaged his man all the way until the goal line. Davis later revealed that the play was initially designed for him.
As a team player, it's nice to be a part of wins, but there's still a small part of Davis that wants the ball more.
"With my competitive nature, it's tough to deal with during the game," Davis said. "You want to be involved – everybody who catches passes wants to be involved – because you're a competitor. But I just tell myself, 'Just play. Just play the game.'"
The 49ers are in the midst of a 23-day span that includes just one game. Following their Thursday night contest against Seattle, the 49ers had to wait 11 days to play on Monday Night Football. Now the team is just beginning it's week-long hiatus during the bye week, including a couple of extra days off earned by victories over its NFC West foes.
While he's glad to see his teammates get healed up from half a season's worth of bumps and bruises, Davis isn't a fan of the extra time off.
"I really don't like bye weeks," Davis said. "I'm the type of person that when I get into a zone, I like to keep going. I get that momentum and keep going."
But just because he won't be playing on Sunday, doesn't mean Davis won't devote part of his day to football. The 49ers tight end said he plans on going to church and then relaxing around his house on Sunday to watch some NFL action.
As for the coaching staff, it will be busy thinking of more ways to get the ball in Davis' hand.
"We will definitely work hard at making sure Vernon makes an impact in the game, which ever game that is," Roman said. "He's been doing it in the running game, big-time. His time will come – there will be a couple of those games where he just explodes. They'll come. In the meantime, he's got a lot of responsibilities elsewhere – run game, pass protection and making plays."