ADLER, Russia -- Don't you dare call Vernon Davis a curling front-runner. Got that? Don't. Just don't.

The 49ers' tight end went to the Vancouver Olympics four years ago as the USA curlers' honorary captain. They finished in 10th place.

Undaunted, Davis accepted a return invitation to try and inspire a comeback here at the Sochi Games -- and he's as deep into the brooms and stones as ever.

"I'm just here to support the guys any way I can," Davis said. "It's just a beautiful opportunity to uplift the spirit of the game."

Alas, despite Davis' presence here Sunday at the Ice Cube Curling Center, the American men were eliminated from medal round contention by an 8-6 loss to Canada. So once more, Team USA will be also-rans -- or is it also-sweeps? -- at these Games.

San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, right, attends women’s curling competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, right, attends women's curling competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Davis was named honorary captain of the Men's U.S. Olympic Curling team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ( Robert F. Bukaty )

Davis isn't jumping off the curling bandwagon. In terms of dealing with a tough loss, he obviously can relate. The visit to Russia has helped him put some distance from the bummer ending to the 49ers' season, the NFC title game defeat by Seattle.

The 23-17 loss stung deep. Davis went to New York during Super Bowl week for several sponsored appearances, but on Sunday morning flew back to San Jose and his South Bay residence.

"I got home in time to see the game on television," Davis said. "But I didn't watch it all the way. It was kind of mundane. Kind of boring."

Watching the Seahawks routed Denver by 35 points didn't help his digestion, either.


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"It was hard," Davis said. "We would have probably destroyed Denver. But . . . . I really don't want to talk about it. When you get that close, as we did, it's hard to think about."

The atmosphere here in Sochi, even with the tight security, is relaxing for him.

"It's actually kind of good because you get to walk around and be at peace," he said. "No one knows the NFL here. But at the same time, people still notice me and want to take pictures with me because, I guess, they don't see a 245-pound black guy around here that often."

Davis made his initial connection to curling in 2009 when a Bay Area reporter, Janie McCauley of Associated Press, brought him to a curling club session in San Jose at the Sharks' practice rink. She was assembling a story about how a pro football player might handle the sport, an icy version of shuffleboard or bocce ball.

Much to Davis' surprise, he really took to the game, which involves sliding large circular granite stones down the ice toward a target -- while other team members skid along ahead of the stones and whisk brooms on the ice to melt it and induce the stones to knock opponents' stones off the target.

"I love the mental aspect of the game," Davis said. "The careful planning and the execution. It's the one similar thing with football."

The USA curling team heard of Davis' fandom and invited him to the Vancouver Games. He paid his own way there. This time, the curling federation picked up the tab.

And just as in 2010, he has helped bring more American eyeballs -- and reporters' notebooks -- to a sport that often gets overlooked at the Olympics. To gain attention, other curling teams here are wearing wild pants. Davis is the USA's version of the wild pants.

Sunday, a couple of Russian reporters were even curious to interview him. One asked Davis to compare the Super Bowl to the Winter Olympics.

"Uh, it's a lot different," Davis said. "But both are big."

He's enjoyed the Russian hospitality here, he told the reporters. The venues have impressed him -- including the Opening Ceremonies stadium that will host World Cup soccer games in 2018. A potential 49er exhibition site?

"Maybe we should play a game here," Davis said. "Maybe we should do that."

And his Russian diet has been consistent.

"Pancakes and hot dogs," he said. "I'll eat them for a week and then get back to my zucchini and other vegetables."

Away from curling, he was able to catch the USA-Russia hockey game on Saturday, just across the street from the curling venue.

"It was pretty intense and exciting," Davis said. "There was energy flowing through that building. I almost thought I was at a football game. T.J. Oshie is my hero. He's a warrior. He really impressed me."

Davis said he'll be back in the Bay Area by next weekend, where he'll begin his regular offseason conditioning program. Any thoughts about team moves before camp?

"Hopefully, we bring Anquan Boldin back, "Davis said. "That's my only concern. I really hope they can find a way to make the money work so that can happen."

Meanwhile, he's up for as many new experiences as possible. It's why he's here.

"Life was not meant to be sad," Davis said. "You're supposed to go out and try different things."

And then the honorary curling captain decided to go have some more pancakes.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.