In his first NFL postseason appearance, Vernon Davis didn’t disappoint. His 14-yard, last-second, game-winning touchdown against the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round will forever be remembered as one of the greatest plays in football history.
As well as Davis recalls that momentous evening at Candlestick Park, the sting of defeat from the NFC Championship game lives just as strong. Speaking to the media on Thursday, reporting day for 49ers veterans, Davis reflected on the 2011 season while looking forward to this year’s campaign.
“I have high hopes for this team, high expectations. It’s something that we all have to live up to as a team,” Davis said. “We’ve got a lot of talent; we’ve got a lot of guys around here that are very capable. At this point, all I can do is keep my belief and faith and let the chips fall where they fall. But I will not doubt anybody on this team; I will not doubt this team. I will continue to have faith.”
Like many of his teammates, Davis had never played past Week 17 until last year. Under the guidance of first-year coach Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers featured one of the league’s most complete teams until being knocked out of the NFC Title game with a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
But after returning the core from last year’s team and making several high-profile additions through free agency and the draft, Davis is expecting more great things in 2012.
“The unique thing about getting close to the Super Bowl is that we had a chance to smell it and see what it’s like,” Davis said. “I had never been to the playoffs before, but it was definitely a lifetime experience – something I’ll take on with me for the rest of my life. I’ll just pray and believe that we’ll do it again. It’s something that we all look forward to.
“We look forward to it because we know what it’s like. We know what the stage looks like; all the bright lights, the people, the fans. It’s just amazing.”
Following a regular season when he posted 67 catches for 792 yards and six touchdowns, Davis racked up 10 catches for 292 yards and four touchdowns in the playoffs. With new weapons on offense like Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins, Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James, Davis said the 49ers are forming a quick “family” bond already.
Just don’t expect him to forget the lessons he learned in last year’s final defeat.
“It’s motivation going into training camp and when we come out of training camp we can still use it as motivation,” Davis said. “That’s why I say that this team is going to be a special team – because we know what it’s like and we all know what it takes to get there. It’s going to take one practice at a time and one game at a time.”
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