Notes: Davis re-emerges as part of 49ers' plan

Davis: 'Without opportunity, you have nothing'

Notes: Davis re-emerges as part of 49ers' plan
January 20, 2013, 7:30 pm
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Vernon Davis had five receptions for 105 yards and a TD Sunday after catching just seven passes for 105 yards and no TDs over his last seven games. (AP)

ATLANTA -- Tight end Vernon Davis spoke up at halftime.

And for one of the few times this season, his actions on the field spoke loudly, too.

Davis re-emerged at the most opportune time in the 49ers' offense in a 28-24 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. The 49ers move on to Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.

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Davis, who had become the forgotten man, caught five passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. It was only his second 100-yard performance of the season. The first came on Oct. 7 against the Buffalo Bills when Alex Smith was quarterback.

"We always tell Vernon, 'Sooner or later, my friend, it's coming,'" 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "And it came today."

In his previous seven games, Davis caught only seven passes for 105 yards and no touchdowns. On Sunday, he had five receptions on six passes thrown his way.

"Kaepernick is the man," Davis said, echoing his comment after he caught 83 yards in passes against the Chicago Bears in Kaepernick's first start.

"Kaepernick is just one of those guys who come to work ready to go. He's one of the hardest-working guys on the team. He came in here midseason and turned everything around."

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The 49ers, who fell behind by 17 points early in the second quarter, turned everything around on Sunday. Davis had a 4-yard touchdown catch to pull the 49ers within 17-14 in the second quarter. Atlanta added a touchdown in the closing minute of the first half to extend its lead to 10 points.

Coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the team at halftime, then Davis followed with some words of his own.

"Just business," Davis said of Harbaugh's message. "I was the motivational part."

Davis said, "Guys, come on, let's go, let's get this. We made it this far, we might as well finish strong."

The Falcons centered their defensive efforts on receiver Michael Crabtree, who caught six passes for 57 yards.

"They were keying on Crab, and in different situations, Vernon was one-on-one, and he made plays out there," Kaepernick said.

Davis said he thought there would be opportunities to make plays. Last week, Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller caught eight passes for 142 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.

"I actually watched game three times in two days because I was so excited about that tight end, what he did," Davis said. "You never know. You just have to be prepared."

Unsteady Akers: Kicker David Akers' struggles continued on Sunday when he hit a 38-yard field goal attempt off the left upright. The kick would have pulled the 49ers into a 24-24 tie.

The 49ers on Friday waived veteran kicker Billy Cundiff, whom the club signed on Jan. 1 to compete with Akers during practices leading up to the first playoff game, and are therefore unable to recall him for the Super Bowl.

Harbaugh confused: Coach Jim Harbaugh threw a challenge flag in dispute of Harry Douglas' 22-yard reception near the 49ers' sideline. The catch gave the Falcons the ball at the 49ers' 28-yard line with 4:15 remaining in regulation.

Referee Terry McAulay, much to Harbaugh's displeasure, upheld the call on the field.

"Saw the replay," Harbaugh said. "Saw the ball on the ground. Saw the ball moved. That is what the referee said to me, also that he had control of the ball. I don't know how with those two things happening it can be a completion."

Turnover not costly: There were three turnovers in the game, and none led directly to points. But one of the 49ers' two takeaways played a major role in the 49ers' go-ahead touchdown -- and that was even after a giveaway of their own.

With the Falcons at the 49ers' 28-yard line, looking to extend their 24-21 lead, 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith recovered a shotgun snap that quarterback Matt Ryan could not handle.

The 49ers were in position to cash in with a touchdown seven plays later, but Crabtree fumbled at the goal line after taking a short pass from Kaepernick. Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson stripped Crabtree, and linebacker Stephen Nicholas recovered.

But the 49ers' defense forced a punt, and Ted Ginn returned it 20 yards to the Atlanta 38. Six plays later, running back Frank Gore scored the deciding points on a 9-yard run.

"Part of this game is moving forward and not looking back," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. "If the defense stops them like they did, we get a short field, like we did. You can't worry about stuff that's already happened."