SAN JOSE – Vernon Davis turned 32 on Sunday.
At this stage of a football player’s career, birthdays are no longer celebrated. And so it goes with Davis, who is on the wrong side of 30 after experiencing the two least productive seasons back-to-back of his 10-year career.
Davis was sent from the 49ers to the Denver Broncos in a midseason trade. In eight regular-season games with his new team, Davis had 20 catches for 201 yards. But he played just 11 snaps total in the Broncos’ first two AFC playoff games and did not catch a pass.
It’s a reasonable thought that Super Bowl 50 on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium could be the final game of his career. But Davis almost seemed offended at the suggestion.
“Sunday? Oh, come on, man,” Davis said. “No way.”
If Sunday’s game is the final time Davis plays in an NFL game, it certainly will not be by choice, he said.
“As long as I can run a 4.3 or 4.4, I’m going to continue to play the game,” Davis said. “When that leaves, I’ll stop playing.”
Davis’s time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2006 NFL scouting combine led to the 49ers selecting him with the No. 6 overall pick. He said he still runs a 4.3.
“Right now, I feel like I’m only Year 5 or 6, as far as my body and my mind,” he said. “I can continue to work on my mind, and same way I work on my body.”
When it was pointed out that his age, along with his lack of production, is enough for most people to think his best games are behind him, Davis said he believes he will prove the critics wrong.
“That’s good. That’s what I want them to say,” he said. “Because when the opportunity comes, and I do some of the things that I’ve always done, they start to second-guess themselves. That’s cool. I like it. I’ve been here before.”
Davis was a key component just three years ago in helping the 49ers get to Super Bowl XLVII. He caught six passes for 104 yards in the 49ers’ 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
In three postseasons with the 49ers, Davis was a star. In eight playoff games, he caught 27 passes for 600 yards and seven touchdowns.
Now, he’s just a bit player with no guarantee he will see any action when the Broncos meet the Carolina Panthers for the Super Bowl. He admits that it’s been a difficult transition trying to learn the intricacies of an offense with quarterback Peyton Manning in charge.
“It’s been tough. It’s been tough,” he said. “But I know who I am and I know what I stand for. I know what I can bring to the team. I don’t let things like that get me down.
“I’ll continue to do everything I’ve been doing, whether it’s getting out there early catching extra passes, running extra sprints. I continue to do all those things. When you have adversity or obstacles for the moment, it always gets good again.”
That’s why Davis said he envisions himself returning to the playoff form he flashed during his time with the 49ers.
“I always see myself having big games,” he said. “I always have to be prepared. I’m always in the moment and I try to stay optimistic.”