SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of Vernon Davis’ Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
Vernon, obviously you guys aren’t in that underdog role have you have been in earlier in the year. Does anything change now that you’re not in that role anymore?
“To answer your question, no it doesn’t. We can still go out and play our game. We’re not worried about everything that everyone has to say about us. We’re just trying to relax and go out there and play football.”
You guys seem to be really loose. There’s no pressure or tightness approaching a game of this magnitude?
“No, we’re not tight at all. We’re really loose, we’re able to go out and just focus on our assignments. Because that’s when you run into trouble, when you get MA’s [missed assignments] and things like that. We don’t want those problems.”
What kind of excitement or intrigue level has there been when the coaches put in a new play or call a play that’s unique where a lineman is running down field or you got a fly sweep? They put in a Vernon post last week for you. What’s the excitement level when their coming up with creative plays like that?
“I don’t know. When they put in plays like that I just sit there and smile. It’s very interesting when you get a guy like [T] Joe Staley, who catches a pass and he’ll take it for about 25-30 yards. That’s a lot of fun and very exciting. For myself, just like Joe, I get excited. I get excited for it because I’m helping my teammates. I’m helping my teammates get a win.”
Vernon, last summer when you guys were gathering and QB Alex Smith pulled these camps together at San Jose State, certainly there was talk of winning the division. With a first year coach, did you see this coming?
“No I didn’t. I didn’t see this coming. It’s been a long journey. It’s been a long journey. All I knew is that we had a good team. I knew we had a good team because the guys that we had; [QB] Alex Smith, [RB] Frank Gore, [FB] Moran Norris, [WR] Michael Crabtree. I mean we got a lot of talent over here. So, all we had to do it put it together. With [head coach Jim] Harbaugh coming in, he helped us do that. “
Alex just told me that you learned how to become a professional and that’s led to you becoming a team leader. When did you decide to embrace that role and how difficult was that path for you?
“It was difficult. It started when Coach Mike Singletary was here. He sent me to the locker room. From that point on, I was…I just kept my head up and just kept going down the straight path because I knew from there, from the talk that we had, I was going the wrong direction. I changed my life around and I became more of a leader, because in the beginning it was all about me and that’s not right. You don’t want it to be all about you. I find it that, when it’s more about the team and you put the team first, you have more success.”
Could you believe a coach would choose to send you to the locker room? At that time, could you believe that the coach would send you to the locker room?
“No, I was looking at him like he’s crazy. How could you send your first round draft pick to the locker room? I understood, I understood the reason why, because I was hurting the team. Penalties and missed assignments, things like that. It will kill the team.”
What was it that he said to you Vernon that resonated? Can you pin point the one that he said that made you make the change?
“He said to me, I can’t remember what he said word for word, but it touched me. It touched me. But I do remember him saying that, ‘Vernon, when you put the team first, then you’ll start to take off.’ So I did that, I did that. Since then, life has been really good.”
Do you still talk to him?
“No, I don’t. I haven’t spoken to him in a while. I’m sure I’ll catch with him in the future.”
So essentially are you grateful though for him, with the whole thing that happened?
Very grateful, very grateful. He was here at the right time. He was here at the right time, and the timing was perfect, couldn’t have been better. I am very grateful that he was able to be here and help me make that transition.”
Your current coach got the nickname ‘Captain Comeback,’ about 15 years ago, and you guys have six comeback wins this year. Is there something about him that rubbed off on you guys? When you lump those six comebacks together, is it almost laughable now how well you guys are able to do this week after week?
“At first, we just took it one game at a time and then we looked up, as a team, we looked up and we were winning week after week. I mean, 13-3 is what we finished this season with. That’s a lot of wins. For me, since I’ve been here, we have been losing so much, so to have 13 wins is a blessing. It just feels so good.”
One of the guys who helped orchestrate those comebacks, Alex Smith. Everyone is talking about redemption and turning the page. In your mind from what you seen, how has he turned the page to be so successful?
“You know what, Alex, I always talk about Alex. I’ve always been a big Alex Smith fan. He was my roommate during training camp. I had a chance to really pick his brain and find out more about who is Alex? What is Alex like? Alex, he’s a strong individual. He’s been through a lot. He’s been up, he’s been down, but he still managed to just hang tough, hang tough and fight through everything. I knew one day that he’d have success, but I didn’t know it would come this fast. He’s one of those guys that you just want on your team because he never gives up.”
Do you think he’s shed that game manager title that he had for part of this season after what he showed with you last weekend?
“Yeah, I always had confidence in Alex. He’ll make plays, he will. And since Harbaugh stepped in, he didn’t do anything but help Alex, help Alex get better. And to me, Alex is still growing. He still has a lot of room to get better.”
Could you see him trying to do too much? He says he used to try to do too much. Have you seen him go to where he’s just playing the game come to him so to speak, rather than forcing the issue?
“Yeah, Alex he’s definitely letting the game come to him. He’s out there. He’s relaxed. He’s very confident in himself and he trusts the wide receivers. He trusts me and we’ll do anything we can to protect him, as well as help him. Each and every week, I look forward to going out there with him because I know I have someone on my side that’s very strong mentally and physically.”
Last week you gave an emotional speech at halftime. What’s going to be your message to the team this week?
“It’s weird because I don’t prepare messages. They just come from the heart. And at that moment, it was something that I was feeling. I went to the board and I wrote on it, ‘one shot.’ One shot because that’s all we had. Just to get guys thinking about it. Thinking about what we have here and that’s just what it is. It just comes from the heart.”
Vernon, when you look at the game tape from Week 10 when you guys played the Giants, what did you see in that team then and what do you see in the team that they are now?
“Right now, well I’m going to start from our previous game. They were a good team in Week 10. They were a really good team. They played a really nice game. They played us hard. They played strong. They were moving fast and it was a tough game. But now, when I look at them on film, they’ve gotten even better. We can’t take these guys lightly. They’ve got a strong defensive front. Up front they’ve got [DE Jason] Pierre-Paul. He’s, to me, he’s one of the best in the league. So, we’re going to have our hands full with him. Secondary’s flying around, [S Deon] Grant, [S] Antrel Rolle. So, they’ve got some good things going on. They’ve definitely gotten better since then.”