Vernon Davis revealed Wednesday how frustrated he was adapting to a 49ers offense that might use him heavily in their playoff opener.
"When I first got in this offense, it was almost as if I wanted to quit," Davis said. "I was like, 'This is just too much.' There was just too much information at one time that they were throwing on me and Delanie (Walker) and the rest of the tight ends.
"But we stuck with it. We learned as much as we possibly could. And here we are."
The 49ers (13-3) are in the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and they'll open Saturday against the New Orleans Saints (14-3) at Candlestick Park.
Davis figures to play a key role in his playoff debut, and that became more likely Wednesday when Saints safety Roman Harper missed practice with a surprise ankle injury.
Harper is the Saints' leader in tackles and sacks, and before the news of his injury, Davis talked about how he expected to match up with Harper in one-on-one situations. "Roman Harper, we've been watching him a lot. It seems like he's always around the tight end," Davis said.
Harper got hurt in the Saints' 45-28 wild-card win Saturday over Detroit. He told the New Orleans Times-Picayune he "feels good" about his availability against the 49ers: "I don't think there really is a question. It's the playoffs."
But will he be able to contain Davis in man coverage, such as when the Saints blitz? Davis is coming off a season-high 118 receiving yards in a Jan. 1 win at St. Louis.
"Vernon is really getting comfortable in our system, and I kind of noticed it the past four and five weeks," offensive coordinator Greg Roman said.
Davis said his early-season adjustments included changing his stance by moving his feet closer together and by reading defenses more on his routes. "That was a little different for me, because in the past, I didn't have to read it as much," Davis said. "I'd just run and get open, whether that middle field was closed or open."
Left tackle Joe Staley said Davis wasn't the only one overwhelmed, noting: "We had to install the whole offense on the fly. Everyone was feeling that way, not just him. But he's really raised his level the past couple weeks."
For more on the 49ers, see Cam Inman's Hot Read blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/49ers.