Super Bowl matchup: 49ers TE Davis vs. Ravens back seven

Pro Football Weekly

In his first start, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick helped revive Vernon Davis' season. Kaepernick found Davis a season-high six times for 83 yards and a TD, and it was said that this new combination would help free up Davis and unleash a new element to the 49ers' offense. Interestingly, it didn't work out quite that way. Davis' production fell back off sharply again, as he caught only seven passes (no more than two in any game) in the remainder of the regular season and in the postseason opener against Green Bay (seven games) for 105 yards and no TDs.

But Davis and Kaepernick reminded folks in the NFC title game that the connection was still viable. As the Falcons concerned themselves more with the 49ers' read-option game (mostly Kaepernick's running ability) and stopping WR Michael Crabtree, who had been Kaepernick's favorite target most of his games, Davis ran free. He was wide open several times on a variety of routes – crossing routes, seam routes, posts – and caught five passes for 106 yards and a TD.

"You can't sleep on Vernon Davis," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "You can't sleep on any of those guys.

"Colin Kaepernick is exceptionally gifted in that area, throwing those routes. Those two guys have the chemistry and they're capable of making the big play and lighting it up at any time."

The Ravens primarily used S Bernard Pollard on Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez in the AFC title game. Although Hernandez caught eight passes for 93 yards, it was on 14 targets and none of his catches went for longer than 17 yards.

Davis brings a unique athleticism to the position. He's stronger and faster than Hernandez.

"Definitely, he's a freak at the position," Ravens LB Terrell Suggs said. "He's definitely one of the best, if not the best tight end."

Although Davis expects to see Pollard a lot, he also knows the Ravens could switch things up. They have taken different defensive approaches this season to quality receiving tight ends.

"They do play Pollard in the box," Davis said. "For me, you just never know. You can look at them and watch how they played Aaron Hernandez since (Rob) Gronkowski's been out. You can look at that game and think they'll play me the same way, but it just doesn't happen like that. You just never know. That's one thing that is interesting about this game, and this past year, these guys switch their coverage up quite a bit."

Davis' main prowess to the naked eye is his receiving ability, but he also helps the run game significantly, especially when the team uses its heavy sets with multiple tight ends, a fullback or extra offensive linemen.

"Vernon Davis is a spectacular athlete," Harbaugh said. "He's a good blocker as well."