This Thanksgiving, among other things, I’m thankful for Vernon Davis.
He’s my favorite 49er, and here are the top five things I like about him.
- He’s always available to talk. Some star veterans insist they talk only once a week, after they’re fully dressed, after they’ve put in their ear rings. Vernon Davis is not that kind of guy. If you go up to Vernon Davis and ask if you can ask him a question, his answer will be, “yes.” I’m thankful for that.
- When he answers questions, he’s engaged. Some players are bored during interviews, and maybe that’s fair because they get asked the same questions a lot. But Vernon Davis never shows boredom. From the look on his face you’d think every question thrilled him. I’m thankful for that.
- When he answers questions, he’s also honest and he tries hard. When other players answer questions it sounds like you’re talking to Jim Harbaugh. They get a look on their face like, “What would Coach say?” Vernon Davis never does that. He alludes to Harbaugh’s message but he thinks for himself and he uses his own words, not groupthink. I’m thankful for that.
- He has total patience during interviews and he likes to talk. Often in the locker room he’ll get surrounded by reporters, and he’ll stand there and answer every single person’s questions with a smile on his face. Also, he’ll answer football questions and non-football questions with the same seriousness. You could ask him to break down the upcoming opponent’s defense, then follow that up with a who’s-your-favorite-painter question, and without missing a beat he’ll tell you, “Da Vinci’s my guy.” I’m thankful for that.
- He’s his own man, and here’s the ultimate example of that. As you may remember, on the first day of training camp, second year tight end, Nate Byham, tore his ACL. Jim Harbaugh’s response was to blow his whistle and move his team from one side of the field to the other, to give Byham space, but also to keep practice moving. All the players followed Harbaugh’s directive except Vernon Davis, who knelt next to Byham for five minutes until the injured player was carted off the field. Davis’ loyalty lay with his fellow tight end, not with his new coach. If there was one person who could disobey Harbaugh at that moment and do the right thing, it was Vernon Davis, and he did it without hesitating. And he’d do it again, too. I’m thankful for that.