49ers

Mike Singletary's words never far from Vernon Davis' mind

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AP

Mike Singletary's words never far from Vernon Davis' mind

Tight end Vernon Davis does a pretty good Mike Singletary impersonation.

He should be good at it. After all, he said those Singletary words – “I want winners!” -- directed at Davis during a midseason game in 2008 have stuck with him through his entire NFL career.

In Singletary’s first game as interim coach after taking over for fired Mike Nolan, Davis was flagged for unnecessary roughness when he retaliated to some trash talk with a shove to the facemask of Seattle defensive back Brian Russell.

When Singletary was not satisfied with Davis’ reaction to a chewing out, Singletary ordered the third-year player off the sideline and into the locker room at the end of the third quarter. After the game, Singletary’s press conference was dominated by his blistering words aimed at Davis.

Those words stick with Davis even today – as a 12th-year NFL player who ranks No. 10 all-time in receiving yards among tight ends.

“It never leaves. It’s always there. It’s always around,” Davis said. “It permeates throughout the years. It’s there. I first heard it after that game. I went home and sat on the couch and turned the TV on. And there he was, coach Singletary. . .”

Davis, a special guest on The 49ers Insider Podcast, then gave a brief impersonation of Singletary’s rant.

“I know it like the back of my hand,” Davis laughed. “I was sitting there. How could he do that? That’s horrible. I can’t believe he would do that. I was so frustrated. I was livid. I just couldn’t take it. He just threw me under the bus. That’s awful.”

But it did not take Davis long to understand that he had to change his ways, he said.

“That was the moment that turned everything around,” Davis said. “Once I saw that, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is really serious.’ There’s nothing I can do. This guy right here, he’s just tough. I can’t beat him. So I just have to straighten myself up, and that’s what I did. I straightened myself up and did everything he asked me to do. I became a different person.”

Davis was a key member of three consecutive 49ers teams that reached the NFC Championship under coach Jim Harbaugh. He twice recorded 13-touchdown seasons with the 49ers. He ranks fourth all-time in 49ers history with 55 touchdown receptions – behind only Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens and Gene Washington.

Davis is in his second season with Washington – his hometown team. On Wednesday, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins described Davis as a "team-first" player who can still "bring the juice." Davis showed a glimpse of the elite speed he had as a youngster when he broke free for a 69-yard reception against Kansas City recently on Monday Night Football.

On Sunday, Davis will face his former team for the first time in his career. Davis, who won a Super Bowl ring after being sent to the Denver Broncos in a 2015 mid-season trade, said he still wonders if he might have a Super Bowl ring with the 49ers if Harbaugh had not made the switch at quarterback in 2012 from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.

“You know what, I think about that sometimes,” Davis said. “And I think about what if Alex had stayed in the starting role. What if he had that role? Would it have been a situation where we would’ve won the Super Bowl? I don’t know.

“That’s just a question that will always linger. Everyone wants to know. What if? What if? At the end of the day, what is written is written. Kaepernick had a shot and he did really well. He didn’t do anything wrong. The game just didn’t go in our favor. We didn’t win it. There’s always going to be what-ifs.”

Kaepernick played very well in the second half of the season and into the playoffs. The 49ers fell short in Super Bowl XLVII, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31. Kaepernick threw for 302 yards, and Davis had six receptions for 104 yards.

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

49ers confidence soaring as Garoppolo takes charge

Jimmy Garoppolo spent three games as the 49ers’ backup before starting the past two games.

But just five games into his tenure with the 49ers, he is already considered a player everyone looks up to.

“Man, Jimmy’s been everything,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. “He’s already a leader on this team. He runs this offense with confidence, and I think guys really believe in him. He keeps us up on the sideline.”

Garoppolo threw for 334 yards in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday after a scoreless first quarter.

“We didn’t start the game off great on offense,” Juszczyk said. “We missed some big plays and it would’ve been easy to tank, but Jimmy was right over there talking to us. It never fazed him. He was telling us to keep it up and eventually we’d punch it through.”

Juszczyk is one of several offensive players who has seemingly benefited from Garoppolo’s elevation into the starting lineup. Juszczyk had receptions of 31 and 29 yards to set up the 49ers’ first touchcdown.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin caught six passes for 106 yards after catching 99 yards in passes against Chicago. And tight end Garrett Celek added a 61-yard reception.

“The guys have played better,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “ I think they have done better as the year has gone. They’ve done great these last two weeks. I think when you’ve got a guy like Jimmy who has been making some impressive throws, who’s been doing it on the practice field and he’s carried it to the game, I think guys always know they’ve got a chance, and they lived up to it.”

Garoppolo was sacked twice and hit nine times. He stood in the pocket and delivered passes down the field during the game. Afterward, he stood up and complimented the pass protection he received from the 49ers’ offensive line.

“Jadeveon Clowney is one of the best in the league at what he does,” Garoppolo said. “I think those guys played great, I really do. You’re going to give up some things here and there, but overall I think it was a phenomenal day for those guys.”

49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

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USATI

49ers snap count: Lynch, Carradine earn way back onto field

HOUSTON – Before the 49ers’ defensive line competes on Sundays, a healthy battle appears to be taking place on the practice field among themselves during the week.

With 11 defensive linemen on the team’s 53-man roster, one big decision on game days for the coaching staff is to determine which eight players will suit up.

On Sunday, defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine got the nod, while Ronald Blair and Leger Douzable were relegated to watching from the sideline in team-issued sweats.

Lynch and Carradine played 27 and 26 snaps, respectively, as part of the team’s defensive line rotation in the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Lynch was on the cusp of getting released just two weeks earlier, according to a source. But after two strong weeks of practices, he was active for the first time in six games. Lynch responded with four tackles and a fumble recovery.

Carradine, who was a healthy scratch a week earlier against the Chicago Bears, contributed two tackles.

Douzable had been one of the bright spots after being re-signed in the middle of the season due to a rash of injuries across the defensive front. Blair was inactive for the first time since he came off injured reserve with a thumb injury sustained during the exhibition season.

Recently claimed defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Cassius Marsh continued to see significant action. Day played 34 snaps, while Marsh saw action on 33 plays. Day and Marsh contributed two tackles apiece.

The 49ers had only one player who missed the game due to injury. Coach Kyle Shanahan said offensive tackle Trent Brown informed the team Sunday morning he would be unavailable due to a shoulder injury.

"I kind of had a feeling (Saturday) night just watching walk through, but didn’t know for sure until (Sunday) when he came in and let us know," Shanahan said.

Veteran Zane Beadles filled in for Brown at right tackle despite playing out of position.

"He’s definitely much more of an inside player," Shanahan said. "Zane doesn’t hesitate. He loves the challenge. He will go out there and battle anyone. That’s why he’s a guy we love going to war with because you know you’re going to get your best and he’s someone you can count on. I know all the players believe in him.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(73 plays)
Quarterback – Jimmy Garoppolo 73
Running back – Carlos Hyde 41, Kyle Juszczyk 36, Matt Breida 32
Wide receiver – Marquise Goodwin 52, Trent Taylor 31, Kendrick Bourne 31, Louis Murphy 29, Aldrick Robinson 26
Tight end – Garrett Celek 61, George Kittle 20, Logan Paulsen 6
Offensive line – Joe Staley 73, Zane Beadles 73, Laken Tomlinson 73, Daniel Kilgore 73, Brandon Fusco 73

DEFENSE
(67 plays)
Defensive line – DeForest Buckner 53, Solomon Thomas 44, Sheldon Day 34, Cassius Marsh 33, Aaron Lynch 27, Elvis Dumervil 26, Tank Carradine 26, Earl Mitchell 25
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 67, Brock Coyle 48, Eli Harold 20
Cornerback – Ahkello Witherspoon 56, Dontae Johnson 52, K’Waun Williams 47, Greg Mabin 26, Leon Hall 19
Safety – Eric Reid 67, Adrian Colbert 67

SPECIAL TEAMS
(34 plays)
Marsh 25, Dekoda Watson 23, Mark Nzeocha 19, Dexter McCoil 19, Elijah Lee 19, Mabin 19, Bradley Pinion 17, Harold 16, Robinson 15, Johnson 14, Kyle Nelson 11, Victory Bolden 10, Paulsen 10, Celek 10, Hall 9, Witherspoon 9, Robbie Gould 6, Darrell Williams 6, Buckner 6, Reid 6, Thomas 6, Staley 6, Beadles 6, Tomlinson 6, Kilgore 6, Fusco 6, Breida 6, Taylor 6, Colbert 5, Juszczyk 5, Coyle 4, Mitchell 4, Foster 2, K’Waun Williams 2, Lynch 1, Dumervil 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB C.J. Beathard
OL Tim Barnes

INACTIVE
RB Jeremy McNichols
DB Antone Exum
LB Pita Taumoepenu
OT Trent Brown (shoulder)
DL Leger Douzable
DL D.J. Jones
DL Ronald Blair