SANTA CLARA — Two Mondays ago, the morning after the big comeback win in Philly, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis walked into the locker room at the same time, roughly 10:30. Vernon Davis was wearing a towel, and Frank Gore was wearing a 49ers sweat suit. Their lockers are on opposite corners of the room.
The reporters all walked over to Gore’s locker first to interview the star running back. He’d had a big game and he had clothes on, so our decision was pretty easy.
As the crowd formed around Gore at his locker, Davis walked across the room in his towel, slid through the reporters, leaned over to Gore and whispered something in his ear. Unless he had something urgent to tell him, it seemed like Vernon Davis was interrupting Gore’s interview and giving reporters one last chance to choose him over Gore. No one chose him.
Davis walked back to his locker and none of the reporters followed him. So he changed quickly and left, and he didn’t make himself available to talk again until Friday.
Cut to Friday afternoon. Vernon Davis decided he wanted to talk so he walked to the center of the locker room in a towel and waited for the crowd to form. Once the cameras were on and the reporters were ready, he started answering questions in his sincere, earnest style. He looks the questioner in the eye. He furrows his brow as he searches for an answer. He’s a gentleman, or he’s portraying a gentleman.
A few feet behind the crowd, safety Reggie Smith stood and mimicked Vernon Davis. He moved his mouth silently like a mime and put the same serious expression on his face. This made Frank Gore giggle.
Next thing you knew, Frank Gore eased into the crowd like a reporter, like he had a question to ask. Vernon Davis saw him enter the crowd and he stuttered nervously, but then he kept talking.
Davis finished answering a question and looked right at Gore as if to say, “Can I help you?”
Gore smiled, cocked his head to the side and said to Davis, “That’s your serious face, huh?”
The entire team burst into laughter. Apparently, all the 49ers were watching the interaction, and it meant something for them for Gore to get one over on Davis.
Davis smiled and blushed, and then he said to the media, “Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree. Those guys come around every so often and mess with me.” He was trying to demonstrate that he was still in control and he had not been embarrassed.
Gore walked back to his locker pleased with himself, and someone asked Davis about the improvement of Alex Smith. Davis started talking about how he’d always believed in his quarterback, when suddenly Frank Gore shouted out from his locker, “Just pass the ball to 85 and we’ll win!”
Again, all the 49ers laughed, and again Vernon Davis blushed, but this time he didn’t have a comeback. He gulped and finished the interview.
Gee, do you think there’s a locker-room competition for top dog of the offense?