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Grant Cohn: Return to the NFL winner's circle

  • Vernon Davis celebrates after the 49ers beat the Saints on Jan. 14, 2012, at Candlestick. (PAUL SAKUMA / Associated Press file)

SANTA CLARA — A few days before the last game ever played at Candlestick Park, Vernon Davis walked off the practice field talking to Frank Gore after a morning walkthrough.

Davis had agreed to do a one-on-one interview after the walkthrough about the last great moment at Candlestick — a play called Vernon Post, unofficially the Catch III, his 14-yard touchdown that beat the Saints in the playoffs on Jan. 14, 2012, and gave the 49ers their first playoff win in nine years.

Davis greeted the interviewer outside the locker room, and Gore walked toward the open locker room doors, but then he turned around and said, “Can I talk, too?”

Candlestick Park Through the Years

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So, Davis, pretending to be a reporter, asked Gore the first question. “What did that game mean to you, Frank?”

Gore smiled. He liked being included in this topic, and he liked Davis deferring to him. “That's probably my best moment,” said Gore. “First playoff game. Seeing how we fought. Everybody thought the game was over. That's my best time at Candlestick.”

Gore had played his first six NFL seasons — the prime of a running back's career — on bad 49ers teams. He was the face of the 49ers' losing era between head coaches Steve Marriucci and Jim Harbaugh. No one could appreciate ending that era more than Gore.

“Vernon was rolling that game,” said Gore. “He set a playoff receiving record for a tight end in that game — 180 yards. I knew if he had a chance, he would make it.”

“You know who inspired me?” Davis asked. “Anthony Dixon. He kept walking up to me and yelling, 'Vernon, you're Superman! You always show up when we need you!' He's walking back and forth yelling, 'You always show up!' It just stuck in my mind: 'Be Superman. Gotta be Superman today.' ” Dixon happened to walk out of the locker room just at this moment.

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