It took Anthony Davis a few years to hit his stride. In his first two seasons out of Rutgers, the 49ers right tackle, who was taken by San Francisco with the No. 11 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, had some well-documented struggles. Those, though, are now a thing of the past.
Way in the past.
Nowadays, it’s tough to find a right tackle who is playing better.
Stellar is the only way to describe his play to this point in the season. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Davis has only allowed three sacks in 2012, despite the fact that the 49ers have faced some of the NFL’s top defenses.
TDdaily caught up with Davis last week, before the 49ers tied the Rams on Sunday, to talk about his ascension to the top of the NFL’s offensive linemen ranks, his thoughts on social media and more.
TDdaily: What changes did you make to your game this year that have helped you become as good as you are?
Anthony Davis: Honestly, I didn’t make a ton of changes. The biggest thing is repetition. All the work I’ve put in the last few years is paying off. The coaches that I have, (offensive line) coach (Mike) Solari and the rest of the guys, they are so dedicated to the details and it’s been rubbing off for years. I’ve been with Solari since I entered the league and his ways have been imbedded in me. It’s not like there was a switch that flipped or anything, just the culmination of my hard work.
TD: I know you did some boxing workouts in the offseason. How did that help?
AD: The boxing training helps a lot. It is all hand strength and speed, which you have to have in the trenches. Being able to have quicker, stronger hands is huge to get those blocks. The difference between making the block and having your guy blow by you is very small, so every advantage helps. You want to have some heavy, quick hands.
TD: What does it mean to you to be named to nearly every Midseason All-Pro squad?
AD: It means that I need to keep it going. I feel like this is just a distraction because it is only midseason. It’s like a preseason All-American in college — now you have to prove you deserve it. Yes, it is an honor being recognized for something you worked so hard for, but at the same you have to go earn it every Sunday. That’s motivation.
But being named to that, that was the goal. You tell yourself that’s what you are going to do. I don’t want to sound cocky when I say that’s what I expected from myself, but I do set high expectations. I never want to be outworked and I listen to the people who know more than me – Solari, coach (Jim) Harbaugh, the veterans – and apply what they tell me.
TD: Last week, offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about your passion for the game. Where did that begin?
AD: I just love football. I grew up watching games with my grandfather. He loved the Giants, but I didn’t care who was playing, I just watched the linemen. I was a big kid, so I knew I’d belonged down in the trenches with those guys. Then I’d go out in the road with my little cousins and we’d run into each other trying to reenact what we just watched.
Then playing in high school, I learned a lot about being on a team. We had a lot of guys who went on to play in college, but I was taught to look at the bigger picture, and the main goal is winning as a team. I love that camaraderie aspect. I guess you could say I’m just as passionate about being part of a team as I am about the game itself.
TD: With that in mind, how much fun is it being a member of arguably the best o-line in the NFL?
AD: It’s a blast, man. This has always been a dream of mine. I don’t necessarily set out a goal of being the best lineman, but I want to play on the best line. We work as a unit up there so all five guys have to work together. And right now, we have a lot of work to do. I won’t say we’re the best because when you say that you get complacent.
Our line, we’re a family. We hold each other accountable and we push each other every day to get better. No matter how good we look to the outside, we’re in here every day seeing how we can get better. We bring the best out of each other.
Also, we run the ball so much, which is fun for us upfront. It makes our job easier. That’s every offensive lineman’s dream situation.
TD: You’re very outspoken on social media and seem to say whatever is on your mind. So many athletes today are guarded — why do you share every thought with the fans?
AD: It’s not every thought, trust me. If I shared every one you all would want to send me to a psychologist or something.
No, but seriously, that’s just me. I don’t really care about an image. I feel like if I come to work every day and try to better myself as a football player and as a person…I’m not worried about what some people out there might think of me. I’m proud of what I believe in and what I stand for, so why not share it?
TD: How far can the 49ers go this year?
AD: As far as we want. We just have to put in the work. It’s a long season, and we just have to keep grinding.