SANTA CLARA — Vernon Davis might get fewer style points these days for his touchdown celebrations — and he's perfectly fine with that.
The emotional San Francisco tight end learned from his blunder with the goal post crossbar after scoring in a Week 1 win against the Packers at Lambeau Field. So, each time he scored in Sunday night's 27-19 victory against the Detroit Lions, Davis opted to shoot jump shots over the bar.
Complete with a perfect, pretty follow-through.
"Very smart," left tackle Joe Staley said with a grin Tuesday. "I was pretty certain he was going to do that. I know he didn't want to embarrass himself twice, because I'm pretty sure if he tried to dunk it again I think he would have been rejected again. ... He knows it. The goal post told him that."
Davis said ahead of time that he might think twice about dunking the football over the goal post after all the razzing he took the previous week from teammates.
He blew it after his third-quarter score in Green Bay, though the touchdown was quite athletic as he went to his knees to make the reception on a 4-yard pass from Alex Smith.
When the 6-foot-3 Davis leapt to put the ball over the bar, it hit the crossbar and bounced back onto the field — and Davis came down, too. He said he injured his left foot during training camp and felt it on the touchdown catch, thus giving him less power in his legs when he jumped in the celebratory move.
And, oh did he hear about it afterward.
Especially from Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree, two former basketball players who still claim they've got game. And from others on the team plane home from Wisconsin when the highlight — if you can even call it that — was shown on television.
Because of it, Davis found himself forced to address his athleticism again after Sunday's win over another NFC power that put the reigning NFC West champions at 2-0 heading into this week's game at Minnesota.
"I think my vertical is leaving me gradually," he cracked afterward Sunday. "I'm kidding. I can still dunk it."
The 28-year-old Davis has had plenty of big moments on the field so his missed dunk will soon be forgotten — outside the locker room, anyway. He has been committed in recent years to finding better ways to channel his excitement on the field.
He caught touchdown passes of 73 and 28 yards in the Niners' 20-17 overtime loss in the NFC championship game to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. But he received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the first touchdown for jumping onto a camera box.
Davis also made a leaping 14-yard touchdown catch under pressure with 9 seconds remaining as San Francisco stunned Drew Brees and the favored New Orleans Saints 36-32 in the NFC divisional playoffs.
He is counting on many more such moments for the 49ers, who have high expectations of reaching the Super Bowl after coming so close last year.
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