The 2011 NFL season was a standout year for tight ends. Whether it was New England’s’ Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham or San Francisco’s Vernon Davis, they all showed they were elite players capable of making big plays for their teams in critical moments.
In the playoffs though, Davis has stood out from the pack making big play after big play when the 49ers have needed it most. Davis not only scored four touchdowns in two games for the 49ers, but totaled 292 receiving yards on 10 receptions, including 119 yards after catch.
Against the Saints, Davis finished with seven receptions, 180 yards and two TDs to lead the 49ers to victory. Seventy-seven of his 180 yards came after the catch (signifying his big-play ability), leading to touchdowns. His stellar performance was highlighted by 47-yard catch which got the 49ers to the New Orleans 20-yard line, and then a huge 14-yard touchdown grab two plays later with nine seconds left on the clock to give San Francisco the victory. The play came just one minute after Drew Brees hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 66-yard touchdown, which seemed to all but seal the win for the Saints.
Despite the loss today against the Giants, Davis once again lead the 49ers with three catches for 112 yards and two scores. Davis’ initial touchdown came in the first quarter when he got behind the secondary and Smith hit him in stride for a 73-yard touchdown (42 yards coming after the catch). Davis’ second touchdown came in the third quarter on a 28-yard reception from Smith.
Unfortunately for Davis, another opportunity to make a game-winning play for the 49ers did not was not in the cards for him today. With Davis and the 49ers missing out on the Super Bowl, Gronkowski or Hernandez may have the opportunity to steal Davis’ shine, but he definitely left his mark on the 2011 playoffs.