By Jerrell Richardson
There is no player on the 49ers roster who presents a bigger mismatch then Vernon Davis. The Pro Bowl tight end is the complete package, with an unrivaled combination of speed and strength, making him a nightmare for the opposition. He officially became a household name in 2009 with 13 touchdown catches, and despite more attention being given to the Saints’ Jeremy Graham and the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, it’s Davis who is at the top of the class. He is just as talented, faster then both and unlike his fellow elite tight ends, he has not missed any games due to injuries. As San Francisco has opened up the offensive playbook recently, taking a more aggressive approach in general to the play calling, it’s puzzling that they have failed to incorporated their best offensive player outside of Frank Gore into the mix.
To start the season Davis was on fire, totaling at least one touchdown reception in the first three games, and with two touchdowns against Detroit, he had four after WeekThree. Since then he has one touchdown catch, and after his big game against Chicago in Week 11 has averaged just one catch per game. This is not a quarterback issue, as Davis was not putting up his usual numbers while Smith was still running the show. In fact, under Smith despite the hot start, Davis only had one really good game, coming in a blowout against the Bills, and Davis’ best game this season was the Chicago game in which Kaepernick made his first start.
Offense Is Clicking Without Him
San Francisco is not foolish and it realizes that it is somehow ignoring a major part of the offense. However, the team is not only winning, but it is moving the ball and scoring points. Outside of their tie to St. Louis, the 49ers have scored at least 28 points in every game and the offense would not be described as struggling. Vernon Davis has grown into the model team player, and has said that he doesn’t care how many catches he gets as long as the team wins. He still continues to put forth maximum effort when on the field, even if it’s just to block, which is best for everyone as Harbaugh does not appear the type of coach to force the ball to any player, especially one that gets as much attention as Davis.
Big Play Ability Will Be Needed For Super Bowl
Outside of the fact that Davis has the ability to be a game changer, San Francisco needs to get hi more involved to make them that more explosive. Kaepernick has developed chemistry with his best receiver in Michael Crabtree, and it figures to only be a matter of time before he gets on the same page with his best tight end. Due to his strong arm, Kaepernick is more inclined to go down the field, and the coaches will need to adjust Davis’ routes to get him more opportunities, which they did just last week with Kaepernick barely overthrowing Davis on one occasion. As long as the team is winning they is no reason to drastically adjust what they are doing, but for them to make a run at a Super Bowl they will need the services of Vernon Davis, who carried them through last year’s playoff run.
Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.