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Ex-49er Vernon Davis reveals emotions after 'The Catch III' vs. Saints

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AP

Ex-49er Vernon Davis reveals emotions after 'The Catch III' vs. Saints

Dwight Clark has "The Catch," Terrell Owens has "The Catch II" and Vernon Davis owns "The Catch III." 49ers fans should feel lucky to be a part of so much history. 

Owens' catch came 17 years after Clark's and Davis turned this into a trilogy 13 years after T.O.'s sequel. Davis etched his name in history by hauling in the game-winning catch with nine seconds left to beat the New Orleans Saints, 36-32, in the 2011 NFC Divisional Round playoffs. 

The former No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft was overcome with emotion. He was seen crying and hugging teammates and coaches on the sidelines.

Davis finished his famous performance with seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Once he crossed the goal line, he couldn't hold his emotions back

"It was always my dream to be a professional athlete," Davis said in a recent Q&A with Niners Nation. "The struggles and difficulties I had along the way, losing games and as a player coming into the league, not living up to my expectations right away. All of that was built up in me, and once I made that play and that catch, I couldn’t help but let those tears out." 

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Even though he already had produced two seasons of at least 900 receiving yards and was a Pro Bowler in 2009, many believed the tight end hadn't lived up to expectations. Davis was a freak at the NFL Scouting Combine and was believed to dominate the NFL from Day 1. 

But then he only averaged 377 receiving yards in his first three seasons and famously found himself in a sideline dispute with coach Mike Singletary. And then, "The Catch III" happened. 

"Those were tears of joy," Davis told Niners Nation. "All of the work, all of the dedication, and the moments where we just couldn’t succeed as a team. I went from falling to getting back up. That’s what that was."

Davis, now 36 years old, retired from the NFL this offseason. He played 10 seasons in San Francisco and had 5,640 receiving yards and 55 touchdowns. Davis also scored eight more TDs over four seasons in Washington. 

The two-time Pro Bowl tight end now is focused on an acting career

This stat shows how 49ers were most balanced team in NFL last season

This stat shows how 49ers were most balanced team in NFL last season

After combining for 10 wins the two previous seasons, the 49ers dominated most facets of the game last season. Balance might be the word that best describes their 2019 campaign. 

Pro Football Focus highlighted just how great they were on both sides of the ball. The 49ers were the only team to grade in the top five on offense and defense.

While PFF uses analytics for an advanced grading system, the traditional stats speak to San Francisco's balance, too. 

On offense, the 49ers ranked fourth in total offense (6,097), 13th in passing yards (3,792), second in rushing yards (2,305) and second in points per game (29.9). They also tied for the seventh-most passing touchdowns (28) and led all of football with 23 rushing TDs.

[RELATED: Defending Jimmy G: Why 49ers QB deserves more respect]

On defense, the 49ers allowed the second-fewest yards per game (281.8), the least amount of passing yards per game (169.2) and ranked 17th in rushing yards allowed per game (112.6). And they ranked eighth in points allowed per game at only 19.4. 

The 49ers beat teams by putting a barrage of points on the scoreboard and by stifling opposing offenses. They'll need the same kind of dominant, balanced attack to make it back to the Super Bowl, too.

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49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk reaches 'soft 21 mph' running on treadmill

49ers rookie Brandon Aiyuk reaches 'soft 21 mph' running on treadmill

Every year at the NFL Scouting Combine, all eyes are on the 40-yard dash. Sometimes, though, numbers do lie. 

Brandon Aiyuk, who the 49ers took with the No. 25 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, ran a 4.50 40, but in reality, he likely is even faster. The former Arizona State receiver was coming off a core-muscle injury that surely hurt his time. 

How fast is the rookie? Well, he ran a "soft 21 mph" in a recent workout video. 

Aiyuk's speed actually is so impressive that only three players in the NFL reached a faster in-game speed than him last year. Tracked by a GPS device in Aiyuk's shoulder pads, he got up to 21.3 mph in 2019. Former 49ers running back Matt Breida had the fastest in-game speed in the NFL last season at 22.3 mph. 

[RELATED: Defending Jimmy G: Why 49ers QB deserves more respect]

As a senior last season, Aiyuk hauled in 65 receptions for 1,192 yards (18.3 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns as freshman Jayden Daniels' top target. Aiyuk also averaged 31.9 yards per kick return and 16.1 yards per punt return. 

There's no doubt Aiyuk will have a tough learning curve in Kyle Shanahan's complex offense, especially with such an odd offseason. At the same time, he could be the perfect deep target for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, especially with his blazing speed. 

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]