By Alan Walsh
In a game against the Seattle Seahawks back on October 26th, 2008, Vernon Davis received perhaps his most hearty serving of humble pie that he will ever taste in his life. With Mike Singletary making his NFL coaching debut, he was trying to put his stamp on the guys and show them he meant business. After being flagged for a silly taunting penalty, Singletary sent Davis to the locker room.
“I will not tolerate players that think it’s about them when it’s about the team. We cannot make decisions that cost the team, and then come off the sidelines and it’s nonchalant,” said Singletary after the game against Seattle on 10/26/08. “I would rather play with ten people and just get penalized all the way until we have to do something else. I’d rather play with ten than eleven when I know that right now that person is not sold out to be a part of this team. It is more about them than it is about the team. I cannot play with them, cannot win with them, cannot coach with them, can’t do it. I want winners!”
It’s a speech that’s all too familiar with San Francisco 49ers fans, but more importantly, Vernon Davis. In that 2008 season, he posted career-lows in every receiving category with 31 catches, 358 yards, and two TDs.
“He came to me and said, you have all the tools in the world, son. So every time I drop a pass, or miss a block, I envision him getting on me,” said Davis
That next season in 2009, Vernon Davis rededicated himself based on his newly-found inspiration via Singletary and turned in his best two seasons to date as a pro. In 2009, he posted career-highs in the three main receiving categories with 78 receptions, 965 yards, and 13 TDs. In 2010, he had 56 receptions, 914 yards, and seven TDs. After the 2010 season Singletary was fired.
“I’m very thankful for the opportunity to cross paths with him. It was a very beautiful thing that he did for me, he saved my career,” said Davis. “He helped make me into the player that I am today. If we never met, I would never have the courage or any of those other things that make up a leader. I’m very thankful and honored that we crossed paths.”
“Looking at him now, the maturity that I see, it’s very comforting to know that he’s OK, said Singletary. “He knows that I love him, and to me, that’s very important.”