Davis explains how Gore helped him make TD catch
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Tight end Vernon Davis practices catching passes at the sideline or near the boundary of the end zone at every 49ers practice.
Typically, Nate Breske, the 49ers assistant trainer, throws passes to Davis while the first-team offense has some down time in practices.
But in the week leading up to the 49ers’ 23-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers, running back Frank Gore approached Davis to provide assistance.
“He came to me and said, ‘This is the catch we need,’” Davis said on Sunday after his 1-yard touchdown at the sideline in the end zone proved to be a huge momentum-changing play for the 49ers in their victory in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
The 49ers trailed 10-6 and had not scored a touchdown against the Panthers in 17 possessions this season before Davis’ catch of Colin Kaepernick pass gave the 49ers a lead they would never relinquish.
“It kind of blew my mind because when I made that play, I went to the sideline and coach asked, ‘Vernon, did you make the catch?” Davis said. “And I said, ‘Coach, I’m confident I made that catch. I’m telling you, I was in.’”
Davis was originally ruled to be out of bounds. But the play was brought under review from the replay assistant with :05 remaining in the half. Referee Carl Cheffers reversed the call. He ruled Davis had possession of the ball and had both feet inbounds.
“I had a flashback of Frank throwing me that ball,” Davis said. “And when I sat down on the bench, I was like, ‘My God, that’s the same exact catch that Frank was throwing me this past week.’”
The play also, in effect, negated coach Jim Harbaugh’s penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Harbaugh said he ran onto the field to bring attention to the scoreboard clock, which continued to wind down after the play. After the touchdown, the penalty was enforced on the ensuring kickoff, which ended the first half of play.
“It was huge at that point if that was incomplete and we weren’t going to have a touchdown there for us to have another crack at another play and getting a touchdown without the half expiring,” Harbaugh said.
“I dodged a bullet.”
Veteran receiver Anquan Boldin went over to Harbaugh and told him, “Coach, we can’t have that. Get off the field.”
Said Harbaugh, “He was right.”
Boldin has provided the 49ers with a steadying influence this entire season. When the 49ers played the Panthers earlier this season, Michael Crabtree was not back from surgery to repair a torn Achilles and Davis was forced from the game in the first half with a concussion.
Crabtree and Davis combined for just 27 yards receiving on Sunday, while Boldin had a game-high eight catches for 136 yards.
“It definitely makes a difference having Crabtree out there,” Boldin said. “They were trying to double Crabtree. Crab had a good game last week in Green Bay, so I guess they thought they were going to try to take him out of the game.”
Crabtree sustained a shoulder injury on the second play of the game and missed three snaps. He appeared to be limited due to the injury throughout the game.
Davis was held to just one catch for 1 yard in the game. But the play provided the 49ers with momentum entering the second half. The 49ers also put together a touchdown drive on their first series of the third quarter to seize command and send the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive season.
The 49ers travel to play the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks on Sunday for the right to play in Super Bowl XLVIII.