This is my Sunday column.
Anthony Davis sure has a lot to say for a guy who played just six games this season.
Four days after he played his first game in five weeks, Davis more or less fired his own boss, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, via Twitter: “Greg Roman to me when I was 21: ‘You know we can get someone off the street to do what you do.’ ”
And then he added, “The irony … ,” meaning Roman is the one who will be on the street in a few weeks. Classy tweet, Anthony.
Two days later, a reporter asked Davis if he believes Jim Harbaugh will coach his final game with the 49ers this Sunday.
“I think everyone knows,” Davis said.
Meaning, yes, Harbaugh’s gone, too. Sayonara.
On a roll now, Davis continued discussing things he had no business discussing publicly.
“Maybe we tried to trick them this year … ” he pontificated. “I don’t think it’s that complicated what we need to do. I know what we don’t need … I don’t want to be closed-minded about a new coach coming in with different views, but a (power running offense) would seem like the simplest answer.”
Davis and I agree, Roman is no genius. The Niners probably can replace him with someone better.
But it’s hard to point the finger at the offensive coordinator when he had to make up for you, Anthony. Or the lack of you.
You’re a very good player, a key player on the 49ers. Your presence affects the offense tremendously, especially in the running game. During the six games you played this season, the Niners’ tailbacks averaged 4.95 yards per carry running to the right – your side. During the nine games you missed, your tailbacks averaged just 2.6 yards per carry running to the right. Your absence made the running game one-sided and predictable. That’s not Roman’s fault. Show some heart. Show some football insight. Show some 49ers insight.
Your backup, Jonathan Martin, is not strong like you. He’s can’t knock back defensive lineman at the point of attack. He is not a run blocker — he is a pass protector, a back-pedaler, a finesse player. That’s not Roman’s fault.
And it’s not Roman’s fault you missed all of training camp rehabbing a shoulder injury. It’s not Roman’s fault you pulled your hamstring during the preseason and missed the first three games of the regular season. It’s not Roman’s fault you injured your knee Week 4 and missed the next two games. It’s not Roman’s fault you took five weeks to return from a concussion you sustained Week 11.
Don’t lay any of this at his door.
And it’s not Roman’s fault you missed both games against the Seahawks this season. In those two games, the Niners’ tailbacks gained just 8 yards on 11 carries to the right. Your team needed you, Anthony. They had no chance without you.
Before opening his mouth, a mature, balanced professional athlete would know those numbers. You have to wonder about Davis. Here’s an example.
On Dec. 23, 2012, the Niners were losing 42-6 in Seattle with fewer than two minutes left in the game. After a play, 320-pound Davis tackled 190-pound Jeremy Lane from behind — a blatant cheap shot by a sore loser. The officials penalized Davis for unnecessary roughness and the NFL fined him $10,000 a few days later.
In the locker room after the game, a reporter asked Davis why he hit Lane from behind after that play.
“I was doing my (expletive) job,” Davis said.
General manager Trent Baalke was standing beside Davis, eyes locked on Davis. This was the time for Baalke to say, “No, Anthony, it is not your (expletive) job to commit 15-yard penalties and hurt the team and act unprofessionally, and that is not how we talk to the media.”
Instead, Baalke stood mute.
The reporter turned to Baalke and asked, “Is Davis representing your franchise well right now?”
Again, Baalke stood mute. Then he said to Davis, “Go away, Anthony.” And Anthony walked away.
It was a weak response and Baalke did Davis no favors. Davis was the first player Baalke ever drafted. Davis is Baalke’s guy. If you’re Baalke’s guy — Aldon Smith also is Baalke’s guy — it seems you can get away with a lot.
I believe Davis is following Baalke’s lead in criticizing Roman, picking up Baalke’s tone, just as Baalke’s daughter, Cassie, picked up her dad’s tone in her inappropriate tweet about Roman. Davis feels free to criticize his coaches. Davis and Cassie are symptoms of Baalke. Who knows what other symptoms lurk in the 49ers’ family?
Anthony Davis needs grownup mentoring to become the grownup we believe he can become. Maybe Baalke needs it, too.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.