Vernon Davis was aware that he was sitting on 49 career touchdown catches.
So Davis leaped to his 50th on Sunday.
The 49ers Pro Bowl tight end’s meaningful score provided one of San Francisco’s knockout punches in its 23-13 victory over the visiting St. Louis Rams.
MUST-SEE PHOTOS: Vernon Davis Hurdles Rams
One play after a failed Rams punt-fake gave the offense possession 17 yards from the goal line to start the fourth quarter, quarterback Colin Kaepernick rolled to his right and found Davis, who reversed field at 11-yard line and leg-kicked his way past cornerback Janoris Jenkins into the end zone.
“Pretty much my whole career, anytime I have the ball in my hands, defenders will go for my knees, my ankles,” said Davis, who celebrated with his standard basketball-inspired free throw. “At that moment, I just said, ‘I’m going to jump over this guy.’ This was my first time doing it since New Orleans. I did whatever I could do to make a play."
Davis' 50th career score – he started the season with 40 – moved him to fourth on San Francisco's all-time list. Only Jerry Rice (176), Terrell Owens (81) and Gene Washington (59) have caught more wearing the red and gold.
A sprinter and high jumper during his high school days – he cleared six feet, four inches as a track prep at Washington D.C. high school Dunbar – Davis said the maneuver is an important part of his game on the gridiron. He also hurdled a Rams defensive back during a 20-yard gain on his team's second drive of the game.
“I probably wouldn’t listen to it if (coaches) told me not to do it,” said Davis, who also jumped a defender in Week 11 at New Orleans. “Look, I’m here to make plays. I don’t think anything could go wrong.”
Photo Gallery: 49ers vs. Rams
Something went wildly wrong earlier, midway through the third quarter, involving another chippy Rams defensive back.
On the heels of Davis’ 22-yard grab that would set up one of three Phil Dawson field goals, Davis was tackled in his groin region by safety T.J. McDonald.
“I’m still thinking about it. I can feel it,” said Davis, who was in good spirits. “It was a crossing route, I made the play and as soon as I got my hands on the ball, (McDonald) was grabbing me right there in that space, that area, and I kept telling him, ‘Let go, get off me, get off me,’ and he wouldn’t let me go.”
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Including the touchdown and the more controversial catch, Davis grabbed four of five passes headed his way for 82 yards. He said he would have to review the game on video to confirm what he implied: The return of Michael Crabtree loosened up the Rams defensive backfield.
It certainly did on the stat sheet. Kaepernick threw for 275 yards, a single-game high since his 412-yard Week 1 performance.
“Things felt different with him out there,” Davis acknowledged of Crabtree's presence.
As for his having already racked up 50 touchdowns in the midst of his eighth NFL season, Davis was more matter of fact.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “It doesn’t stop me from keep on going.”