By Zack Cimini
The emergence of tight ends taking on a pivotal role in fantasy football leagues has spiked considerably over the last two to three seasons. Ever since Antonio Gates showcased to the league his special skill set more and more teams have began to utilize their tight ends in a dynamic way. All in all the days of just plugging in a different tight end each week and hoping for some points are done. Picking the right one could be the big factor in a W or L for your team.
There is one athletic tight end that was drafted high a few seasons ago to be the beast of all tight ends. He has the speed and size to just drive defensive coordinators nuts. Since arriving in the NFL in 2006, Vernon Davis has yet to dent a presence as a mediocre tight end. Part of the reason is because of the 49ers and Alex Smith’s offensive woes, but also because he is still finding his way. As they say, a third year in the league can mean all the difference to an athlete.
Can Davis shake off his first two years of rust and be the tight end the 49ers and NFL scouts thought he would be off the bat?
There is good reason to think that the 49ers will finally draw up more plays designed for Vernon Davis. First off the 49ers brought in Mike Martz to boost the anemic offense that has been plaguing the 49ers for several seasons now. Martz wants Davis to get the ball and will make sure of it. Another bonus is that the 49ers switched out their starting wide receivers again. Having Bryant Johnson, Isaac Bruce and Ashley Lelie should help out either Alex Smith or Shaun Hill.
Right now Davis would have to rank as a borderline middle tier tight end. Reason being he has yet to get the touches and amount of passes thrown to him as the top six to eight tight ends do. In order for Davis to get where Kellen Winslow, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Chris Cooley, and the Dallas Clark’s of the world are, he needs to be the focal point of the 49ers passing attack.
This should be the year that Davis gets the looks and balls thrown to him. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Davis leap over a few of the tight ends in preseason rankings and land in the top five. Catching anywhere from seventy five to eighty five passes should be within sights. Last year was a rough year to judge for Davis as even Frank Gore couldn’t get it going. The whole team never got it into gear and faltered all season long.
Davis just needs to stay healthy and get into a rhythm with both Shaun Hill and Alex Smith early on. Chemistry can drive the fuel to get the extra looks especially from a young quarterback. For where Davis is likely to land in drafts he should be worth it. Expect numbers around the area of Chris Cooley with a little more receiving yards.
Martz has always been able to maximize talent, as long as Davis is willing to work with him. Does Davis have the work ethic and determination to take a leadership role on a team that obviously needs some dire fuel to drive their offense? NJG thinks so, and the 49ers should get back to being a team on the rise like they did a few seasons ago.