Unlike Ravens backup linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who temporarily lost his mind and called out the Patriots on Sunday night, we're not even sure if what 49ers tight end Vernon Davis said during a recent radio appearance qualifies as bulletin-board material.
San Francisco travels to Atlanta on Sunday, and the winner will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The 49ers are coming off a convincing win over the Packers, and the Falcons needed some last-second heroics to hold off the upstart Seahawks. Perhaps that has something to do with Vegas liking San Francisco (they're favored by 4.5 points) and Davis' unabashed confidence in his teammates.
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“This year is a lot different than last year because we've been there, we know what it's like, we know what to expect and we know how to plan," Davis said recently on ESPN Radio (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "It's all about preparation going into this game. We're going into their stadium, and of course we're going to win. That's the goal. We have to be well prepared for this team and be ready for whatever they bring.”
The defense has a lot to do with the 49ers' success, but unlike last season's 13-3 team, the offense is suddenly dynamic -- thanks to second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“I knew (Kaepernick was special) from watching his college film," Davis said. "I knew he had something and it was just a matter of time before he had to get acclimated and adjusted. That's what it's like. You know, when you first come into the league -- he's in his second year -- it's just taken him a little bit of time, but you have to expect that from a rookie coming in. But he's definitely a talented guy and brings a lot to the team.”
For anybody half paying attention, those talents include (but aren't limited to) Kaepernick's strong arm and blazing speed. This fact has no doubt kept Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan up at night. Because Atlanta's ability to slow San Francisco's version of the read-option will have everything to do with the outcome.
For some background, earlier this season the Falcons struggled against Carolina's Cam Newton, allowing the second-year quarterback to rush for 86 yards in Week 4 and 116 yards in Week 14. And in the NFC Divisional round, Seattle's Russell Wilson gained 60 yards on 7 carries.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, rushed for 181 yards (not a misprint) against the Packers last Saturday. For comparison, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has never rushed for more than 141 yards in any of his five NFL seasons.
“I'm just happy to have him on my team," Davis said of Kaepernick, "because we're at the point right now where it is must-win. We're one game away, we have to go in here with the right attitude and expect anything. It's just being prepared, and it all starts in practice.”
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