He caught six passes, including one for a score, the night he emphatically declared quarterback Colin Kaepernick “the man.”
But since his 83-yard receiving night in the 32-7 route against the Chicago Bears in mid-November — a team that was then projected to be in the postseason — Vernon Davis hasn’t been the preferred target of his precocious passer.
Six games and six Kaepernick starts removed from one of his best performances of the season, Davis hasn’t scored since. And he’s only amassed six receptions since.
“I think there is a concerted effort,” he said, in regard to his team re-boosting his productivity. “But it just don’t play out that way. We look at teams when they play and we look at their tight ends — like the [Rob] Gronkowski’s and Tony Gonzalez — but they don’t necessarily play me that way. It don’t work in my favor.”
Lately, little has favored the veteran tight end.
Along with his poor productivity, Davis was on the receiving end of a vicious Kam Chancellor hit two weeks ago in the 42-13 loss to Seattle — a wallop that rendered him wobbly, concussed and unable to finish the game.
But despite the setbacks, Davis and the 49ers enter the 2012 postseason as the NFC’s second seed.
“It’s kind of like we’re in the same seat as last year, except for we’ve got a lot more weapons,” Davis said, noting the 49ers’ leading receiver Michael Crabtree and veteran Randy Moss.
But with such weapons in the receiving corps, San Francisco has lost some as well. The 49ers’ second-leading receiver Mario Manningham suffered a torn ACL in Seattle, while Kyle Williams went down with, likewise, a torn ACL in New Orleans.
But the 49ers, and Davis, are coping.
“We’ve been managing with what we have,” he said. “But we didn’t let those things affect us, we’re still moving on because we have a lot of depth.”
And depth is what San Francisco’s offense must rely on if it hopes to surpass last season’s impressive yet unsatisfying feat of reaching the NFC Championship Game.
“It’s very important that we put points up,” Davis said. “We have to score, especially when we get into the red zone, because we know going into this upcoming game, that it’s very critical that we score points. Because if we don’t, we’re going home. And we know that feeling from last year.”
Down the stretch and in the postseason last year, Davis was dominant in the open field. In two playoff games, he tallied 10 receptions for 292 yards and four touchdowns. He hasn’t been that this year. But he’s hoping to be that again.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team,” he said. “Right now, I just wanna make it to where we’re trying to go.”