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49ers tight end Vernon Davis talks about life and his team’s prospects during the NFL playoffs.

Kam Williams | 1/11/2012, 8:04 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Vernon Davis

49ers tight end Vernon Davis talks about life and his team’s prospects during the NFL playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is a game-changer who embodies the ethos of leadership both on and off the field. Picked 6th overall in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Maryland, Davis had already been an All-American football star in high school.

 In advance of draft day, he ran the 40-yard dash in the fastest time ever for a tight end. And at the time of his signing. he became the highest paid tight end in NFL history.

Ever a record breaker, Davis is a two-time team captain and a two-time Pro Bowl player who helped lead the 49ers to this year’s playoffs. He is also the recipient of the Len Eshmont Award as the club’s most inspirational player and in 2009 tied the NFL’s single-season TD record for tight ends with 13.   

Born in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 31, 1984, Davis was raised in a rough ‘hood by a doting grandmother he credits with helping him navigate the shoals of that treacherous terrain. Unflappable in her commitment to raise Davis and his younger siblings (four sisters and two brothers) with her values of hard work and integrity, she never let them stray from her careful watch during their formative years.

Davis also found enrichment in afterschool programs, which involved sports and ultimately led him to pursue a career in professional football. He served as a mentor to his younger brother, Vontae, a cornerback for the Miami Dolphins who was also a first round draft pick, making them members of an exclusive club of brothers who have played in the NFL.

A philanthropist off the field, Davis represented the NFL by traveling to Afghanistan to spend time with U.S. troops. Last year, he traveled with his brother to Uganda and Rwanda on a mission with Pros For Africa.

Together, they oversee the Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation which benefits a number of community-based charities, including the A.R.T. Ambassador Youth Program and  the Sound Body Sound Mind Football Academy which provides scholarships to deserving inner-city athletes along with academic instruction, health, nutrition, life skills counseling and college mentors.

Here, he talks about life and about his team’s prospects as the 49ers enter the playoffs.

Congrats on a very successful 2011 season with the 49ers. You guys not only won your division but earned a bye the first week in the playoffs. Do you think the team will make it to the Superbowl?

Yes! Everyone on our team is very motivated, especially given where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through in the past.

As a tight end, you have to both block and catch passes. Which do you enjoy doing more?

I like both, but I’d have to say I like catching passes more because of the thrill of it. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping guys in the passing game, too.