Davante Adams, like most great Packers receivers before him, did not arrive in Green Bay a ready-made superstar. Instead, he learned from the veterans in front of him while preparing for his time in the spotlight.
Adams came up at a time when Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were each 1,000-yard threats. Nelson came up when Greg Jennings was in his prime. Greg Jennings came up when Donald Driver was at his peak. Driver came up when Antonio Freeman was a star.
The Packers’ lineage of quarterbacks is talked about all the time. Their run of talent out wide has been pretty phenomenal, too.
On Sunday against the Seahawks, Adams did what each of his predecessors managed at the heights of their careers: deliver a signature postseason performance as the clear No. 1 receiving option. He finished with eight catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns, taking over the game at pivotal moments to help coach Matt LaFleur’s squad to a 28-23 divisional round victory.
“He had an unbelievable night,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in his postgame television interview. “He carried us on offense, and his route-running ability was incredible.”
IYER: What Packers need to do to beat 49ers
With the Packers needing to convert a third-and-8 to avoid giving Russell Wilson the opportunity to lead a game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter, Adams beat his coverage and hauled in a perfectly placed touch pass from an on-the-run Rodgers. One first down later, Green Bay was able to take a knee and run out the rest of the clock.
Earlier in his career, Adams might not have been able to secure a pass in such an important moment. He struggled at times with drops his first couple of years in the league and posted sub-60 percent catch rates in 2014 and 2015. He’s now about as trustworthy a receiver as Rodgers has ever had.
Adams has also overcome injuries that threatened his career. He was knocked out twice by brutal hits to the head, with one of them sending him directly to the hospital. He also dealt with a debilitating toe problem.
Now, he’s getting to prove to a national postseason audience how good he has become, and he will continue to have that chance when Green Bay faces the 49ers next weekend in the NFC championship game.
VIDEO: Every Adams catch from Packers’ victory over Seahawks
San Francisco boasts one of the toughest pass defenses in the NFL. The 49ers completely shut down the Vikings on Saturday. But the Packers are confident in their receiving corps anchored by Adams, their latest superstar wideout, particularly with Rodgers slinging the ball his direction.
“Davante is as good a route runner as I’ve ever seen,” LaFleur said. “(With Adams and Rodgers) it’s just two great football players making great plays.”