Candlestick Park, currently gasping its last wheezy breaths, has been the scene of many extraordinary and thrilling games.
Sunday was not one of them.
Yet in terms of unforgettably breathtaking Cirque du Soleil performances, the 49ers’ workmanlike 23-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams did produce one memorable picture. Two, actually.
They came courtesy of Vernon Davis, the 49ers’ tight end. In the fourth quarter, he scored the 50th touchdown of his career after catching a pass from quarterback Colin Kaepernick at the Rams’ 11-yard line and then … drum roll please … completed a stunning hurdle over confused Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins before crossing the goal line.
And that wasn’t even Davis’ most impressive leap of the day. In the first half, he somehow gained enough vertical air to hurdle his entire 6-foot-3, 250-pound body completely above onrushing St. Louis safety Rodney McLeod during a 20-yard gain.
Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, we give you … the Great Vernoni!
Seriously, how many other NFL teams have this kind of act? After his grand performance, the dashing young aerialist revealed that the hurdling inspiration first struck him two weeks ago in New Orleans when he came upon a Saints defender, tried the move and succeeded.
“Pretty much my whole career, any time that I get the ball in my hands, defenders are coming for my knees and ankles,” Davis said. “But it was just in the moment. At that moment, I said, ‘I’m going to jump over that guy.’ “
–Mark Purdy, San Jose Mercury News
The big mystery Sunday for the 49ers was how wide receiver Michael Crabtree would respond in his return to action after missing the season’s first 11 games with a torn Achilles tendon.
Mystery solved. Crabtree played most of the game and caught two passes, one of them for a highlight-reel 60 yard gain. He ran a stop-and-go route, blew past his defender, caught Colin Kaepernick’s pass 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage and sprinted and stiff-armed his way for another 40 yards.
Then Crabtree jogged off the field, either grinning or grimacing. The best news for the 49ers is that Crabtree now seems fully ready-to-roll, no noticeable slowdown from the injury.
“I was at game speed,” Crabtree said, when asked if he’s as fast as before the injury. “I probably wasn’t 100 percent, but I was trying to make everything happen. Anything he threw my way, I was trying to make the most of it.”
In theory, the return of the fast (but not lightning-fast) and sure-handed Crabtree, who developed great chemistry with Kaepernick last season, will open up the passing attack, taking attention away from Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin.
–Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle
In another life, DeMarcus Cousins might have been an actor. The camera finds him for every one of those dramatic shoves, elbows, frowns, shrieks, head-shaking moments.
But tis his season to gripe. Or, at the very least, his day to complain.
An initial Flagrant 2 on Cousins. In the closing minutes of a tight game between regional rivals. When was the last time that happened?
To the everlasting credit of the refs, the play was reviewed, the call downgraded to an offensive foul and near-anarchy averted.
The Warriors’ Andrew Bogut reasonably could have been charged with a foul for holding Cousins in the lane. Absolutely true. Cousins reasonably could have been tagged with popping Bogut under the chin as he tried to free his arms. Also absolutely true.
But that original leap to a Flagrant 2 – and an automatic ejection – still left a lot of folks besides Cousins shaking their heads.
“He just kind of swung through me, clipped me on the chin,” Bogut said. “I made the refs aware of it. I don’t think it was a flagrant. We always battle, and it gets pretty physical out there. I accidentally elbowed (Cousins) in the head in the first half.”
Anytime Bogut takes up for Cousins, though, you figure there’s something to it. These two fellows will never share a meal. Bogut inadvertently helped make the case for Cousins, the argument being that his reputation is preceding him. That the refs are staring too hard at his NBA portfolio, particularly the paragraphs detailing his suspensions, technicals, behavioral issues. That they can’t seem to forgive and forget. That they’re seeing ghosts – the ghosts of Boogie past –and anticipating the shoves, elbows, frowns, etc.
–Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee