The San Francisco 49ers went 13-3 last year before eventually losing an overtime nail-biter to the eventual world champion New York Giants in the NFC championship game. For this season, the team returns intact and ready to build on the success it had last year.
Is there any reason it shouldn't have an abundance of confidence right now?
Not in Vernon Davis' eyes. With a few careful nods to the hard work still ahead of the Niners, the incendiary tight end let it be known that he sees the 49ers at the top of the NFC heap. Via Tim Kawakami at MercuryNews.com:
"I strongly believe we should be the Super Bowl favorites," Davis said, "but I can't talk about it because it's all about work.
"It starts here at practice. I don't want to talk about it and brag and say this and that, because it's not about that. It's about working first.
"And in the end, you will see where you'll be."
True. In the end, we'll see where the 49ers will be. But for right now, why even tiptoe around it? The 49ers are studs. They are the law in the NFC West, and there's no reason they shouldn't see themselves on the same level as the Giants.
Success has not been the calling card of the 49ers over the last decade or so, so I say embrace it. Declare yourselves Super Bowl favorites. Tell the world that you're coming to gut the Giants like a fish and take what's yours. You went 13-3. It's OK to act like it.
Obviously, none of this precludes the hard work Davis was talking about. They'll have to work even harder and be even hungrier than they were last year. They know that. But they're equipped to do that, too. That's the identity they have ‒ a team that's unified under a good head coach and prepared to put in the work that's necessary.
Vernon Davis hasn't always been known for a great attitude, but what he's saying here doesn't fall under the banner of Vernon Davis verbal missteps. The confidence is completely warranted, and given the recent history of the 49ers, it may be the best possible thing for them.