If you walk through the San Francisco 49ers locker room after a big win, you will hear Coach Jim Harbaugh scream the question “WHO’S GOT IT BETTER THAN US?” to his players. In return, they scream, “NOBODY!” This motto has become the slogan behind the mentality change that the 49ers have undergone in the past two years, which has helped turn them in to one of the mentally toughest teams in football.
At the start of the 2011 NFL regular season, some “experts” predicted that the 49ers would be one of the worst teams in football. Instead, the Niners did won the NFC West last season and got within one game of the Super Bowl, only to follow that up with another NFC West championship in 2012. It was in large part due to a culture change, and one that tight end Vernon Davis has embraced with open arms.
Davis has experienced many ups and downs in his seven year NFL career. In fact, it was just a few short years ago that Davis was being called out by former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary in his post game press conferences. Many can recall the famous “I want winners” speech that Singletary gave after sending Davis to the locker room during the fourth quarter for not putting his team first. It was an all time low for Davis, who was losing hope after being labeled as a potential bust after being selected 6th overall by San Francisco in the 2006 draft.
Since Harbaugh took over last year however, all concerns of that nature have vanished. He emerged as a vital target, and was the key weapon in the 49ers passing attack in last year’s playoffs. Davis is now regarded not only as one of the best tight ends in the game, but also a class act, both on and off the field.
Earlier this season, Davis matched his passion for the arts along with his knack for helping others and helped open an art studio at Santana’s Row in San Jose, California. Studio 85 (named in honor of Davis’ jersey number) opened on December 11th, and was built to benefit his namesake organization, The Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts.
Davis started the night off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony where he stood beside teammates Alex Smith, Aldon Smith and 49er owner Jed York. Once inside, every piece of artwork was then sold to those in attendance, which was open to those from Santana Row only, famously known for being one of the wealthiest districts in the area.
Organizers said they sold everything available for the fundraiser and exceeded capacity with more than 250 people in attendance. The money raised will be used to provide art education to at-risk youth and give scholarships to college art students. Davis decided that those groups would be the focus of his foundation, as he came from a similar situation growing up in a neighborhood known for trouble in Washington D.C.
“I figured that if I took up art classes, people would look at me differently,” Davis recently told Yahoo! Sports. “I wanted to be cool, and I didn’t know how to adapt at the time. It’s sad, but that’s just the way it was.”
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