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


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.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”