Last season, the San Francisco 49ers saw their season come to an end at the NFC Championship. It has left a sour taste in the mouth of all the players and they are back once again in the same spot, hoping for a much different outcome. This time things are a little bit different as well. The 49ers are more experienced, more playoff-tested and they have a new weapon on offense that was missing a season ago.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick stepped onto the playoff stage for the first time as a starting quarterback last weekend and was unstoppable. The Niners will be looking for much of the same this weekend against the Falcons, who were able to exercise some playoff demons of their own against the Seahawks.
Vernon Davis joined ESPN Radio with Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo to talk about how this year’s team is different from the one that lost in the NFC Championship game last year, when he knew the 49ers had something special in Colin Kaepernick, how much faith they have in Kaepernick, how difficult things have been on Alex Smith, what has changed with Michael Crabtree and whether he was hoping to play Seattle as opposed to Atlanta.
How this year’s team is different from the one that lost in the NFC Championship game last year:
“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. 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.”
When he knew the 49ers had something special in Colin Kaepernick:
“I knew it from watching his college film. 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.”
On the confidence the team has in Kaepernick after his game this past week against Green Bay:
“I’m just happy to have him on my team because we’re at the point right now where it is must-win. We have to win in order to get to the Super Bowl. 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.”
How tough things have been on Alex Smith:
“It’s difficult because you look at a guy like Alex Smith who has been through a lot. He has been on an emotional roller coaster and he hasn’t really had a fair opportunity to really showcase his talent so, I mean, it’s sad but it’s the nature of the business and you have to expect it. He knows it. He’s staying tough, staying positive and he’s being a class act about the whole situation.”
What changed for Michael Crabtree:
“It’s Year Four for him and he knows he has to produce, because if you don’t then the fans and everyone will start calling you a bust. He knows that he had to step his game up and he’s done that. I’m more than grateful to have him a part of this team as well, because of what he brings to it.”
If he was hoping to play the Seahawks again as opposed to the Falcons:
“Yeah, I was hoping that they came out here. I was rooting for the Seattle Seahawks because I wanted to get another opportunity to play those guys just because they’re in our [division] and because I didn’t get a chance to play the whole game last time I played them up at their stadium. But the chips fall where they fall and we will be going to Atlanta.”