Two years ago, many 49er fans would not have cared much Vernon Davis stayed with the 49ers.
Averaging three touchdowns a year and just over 375 yards a season, Davis was looking like a solid blocking tight end—and nothing else.
If you're reading this article, I shouldn't have to tell you that in his 2009 season, Davis went from ho-hum to uh-oh. Once a disruption, he suddenly became the offensive captain and posted a Pro-Bowl season—catching passes from two different quarterbacks over the year.
What a difference an attitude change makes!
On top of it all, in the weeks leading up to the stadium vote, Davis represented the value of having a professional sports team like the 49ers in the area by making a surprise visit to Cabrillo Middle School to award the classroom winners of the NFL Play 60's "Fuel Up to Play 60" contest.
In all reality, the passing of Measure J was well in hand; Vernon's' visit just drove the point home.
The 49ers are good for Santa Clara.
Players (or even coaches for that matter) don't always provide solid roll models for the youth of today. There's always a Michael Vick, a Bill Romanowski, or even a Lawrence Phillips. But there are Vernon Davises out there too.
Players with highly respectable attitudes, the type of guys where you see their behavior and think to yourself "now that's a good roll model for kids," do exist.
Mike Singletary's team embodies several key personality traits that are to be respected and emulated: hard work, teamwork, integrity, honesty, accountability. It's an old-school ethic that transcends professional athletics and carries over to the rest of life.
And Vernon Davis is now the manifestation of this ethic personified; the results of his participation in this mindset are inarguable. His success grows from it like fruits from the earth.
File the open-arms stadium approval (the measure passed by nearly 60 percent) under one more reason that the 49ers need to sign Davis as soon as they can, because the all-pro tight end is more than a player; he's a symbol of a franchises return—to winning with class.
Davis knows he's the best tight end in the league; he tweeted so about a month ago.
Last year gave him a taste of the success he can achieve if he marches to the beat of Mike Singletary, Jimmy Raye, and the 49ers as a team. That taste included breaking Brent Jones' 49ers record and tying Antonio Gates' NFL record for touchdowns by a tight end with 13.
If you think Davis is full and has eaten his share of NFL success, think again; I guarantee he's hungry for more.
Why stop there?
If he continues to improve—and there's little to make one believe he won't—Vernon could eventually enter the Hall of Fame as the best, and most complete tight end of all time.
But a little swagger doesn't mean Davis is an NFL bad boy. Confidence and a desire to be an outspoken leader are hardly gangster qualities. The man is cultured; he has respect for painting and fine art as well.
So, checklist time:
Young and getting better? Check.
Team player and outspoken captain on offense? Check.
Looking to add to a record breaking and tying breakout year? Check.
Outstanding blocker? Check.
At an age indicating athletic prime but with Four years of NFL experience? Check.
Giving back to the community, setting good examples for children by being a positive role model, and strengthening community-team relations during the stadium election? Check, check and check!
The only thing left to do here—is show Vernon Davis the money.