San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis wrote a guest post for the MMQB this morning (something that Richard Sherman does from time to time), and he talked about his decision to hold out, the NFC Championship Game, and added a few "Things I Think I Think" notes to wrap it up. First of all, I do like it when players pen guest columns at the MMQB, particularly when they're as eloquent and insightful as both Sherman and Davis have proven to be. Davis just happens to be one of my favorite Niner players -- and he has always been pretty transparent and honest (and respectful) when it comes to talking about the Seahawks -- so it was definitely interesting to get his point of view on things.
Davis, after breaking down his contract situation, went on to talk about the NFC Championship Game, and its heartbreaking finish.
You know what happened, of course; Sherman tipped Colin Kaepernick's end zone attempt to Michael Crabtree, turning it into a game-winning interception. Kudos to the Seahawks, who won a Super Bowl with a defense that isn't as simple as the players like to boast. I don't know how they went about trying to stop the rest of their opponents, but they spent a lot of effort mixing up coverages against us.
Interesting note, definitely, in regards to the Seahawks' mixing of coverages. He went on:
But that's not what stands out to me about that game.I think about the final play, and all the talk that followed it. Did Kaepernick make a bad throw, or a bad decision? Is Sherman lucky or good? My answers: Sherman is good. And Kaepernick made the right call, no matter the outcome. He took a shot. He put his trust in his No. 1 receiver. Sometimes they make the plays, sometimes they don't. But in those moments you have to have faith that your guy is going to pull it down.
This is one of those things that doesn't really have a correct answer, and each side of the coin offers a compelling argument. On one hand, I'd typically (usually) agree with Davis, and most 49er fans, who'd argue that in that situation, you go to your #1 guy with the game on the line, regardless of who's in coverage on the other side. You make the throw, you challenge the defense, you go for it. I get that. I agree with that. Most of the time.
On the other hand, and this is closer to how I feel about it even when I try and take fanhood out of the equation and analyze dispassionately: I think, specifically, that go-route up the sideline versus Richard Sherman is about the lowest-percentage play-call you could have dialed up in that situation. Literally. I would not claim Sherman is a perfect corner and it's debatable if he's the best in the league, but defending that route is Sherman's specialty. (NOTE: I had a reader email me with a link-back to this article by Mike Chan on hand-fighting -- which breaks down a play from 2012 where Crabtree beats Sherman on a similar route. It does alter my opinion slightly -- there was indeed precedence -- though I'd still contend it's such a low-percentage play that has to be executed with near-perfection to succeed that it's not really the direction I'd go as a coordinator).
Particularly with a first-down and several timeouts remaining, in this case, if I were a Niners fan, I'd have preferred Kap kept attacking the middle of the field with Vernon Davis or Anquan Boldin. This would have given Kap the chance to quickly make his reads and throw the ball away if nothing came open, or, potentially, give himself the chance to run the football, because he's f*cking dangerous like that.
Of course, these are the types of "hindsight is 20-20" thoughts that make no difference to anyone, obviously, but since it's Monday Morning Quarterback, that's my "I'd have double-bagged it" MMQB opinion on that play. This probably seems like I'm trolling Niner fans but I'm really not trying to. Besides, Vern brought it up.
Anyway, Davis went on to list some Things He Thinks, and first among them:
I think among the 31 NFL quarterbacks who don't throw me passes, Russell Wilson is the best. He's got all the tools; he has the ability to keep the play alive, and he's very accurate with a strong arm. He exemplifies what it takes to be a winning QB in the NFL. If you asked me to choose based on record and experience, I'd take Tom Brady or Peyton Manning-but in terms of right now, my pick is Wilson.
Obviously, a great compliment to a rival.
Overall, the article affirms my high opinion on Davis and not just because he offers praise to Seattle (that obviously doesn't hurt, but I've liked Davis for years). He just seems like a legitimately good guy, a classy guy, a passionate leader (his tears-of-joy embrace with Jim Harbaugh when they beat the Saints in 2012 was really an awesome moment for any team's fans), a great player, and San Francisco has a good one over there.