San Francisco 49ers: Is Vernon Davis Poised for a Big Season?


September 16, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Vernon Davis posted one of the best performances ever by a tight end in the Super Bowl last year. He finished with six receptions for 104 yards and averaged 17.3 yards per catch. That game further showed that he and Colin Kaepernick could actually be a very good pairing. The chemistry that began to show between Kaepernick and Davis will continue to improve. The end result will be a big season for one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL.

Many people said that Davis suffered when Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith midway through the season. That was correct to an extent. However, if you take a closer look at the game logs, you will see that Davis’ struggles began before Kaepernick. Here is a breakdown of Davis’ 2012 season, the first table was with Smith as the quarterback while the second was with Kaepernick:

Most of Davis’ touchdowns were from Smith. I left out the tie game against the St. Louis Rams because both Kaepernick and Smith played in that one. He was targeted five times and caught four of them for 30 yards. Teams began to key on Davis and dare the 49ers to use someone else to beat them. The bottom three games are playoff games. The upward swing shows how things can be with Kaepernick and Davis. The last two games show a much more efficient connection between the two. They connected on five out of six attempts against the Falcons and averaged over twenty yards. That was followed up with six out of eight for over a hundred yards in the Super Bowl.

Additionally, the first play from scrimmage was a twenty yard completion to Davis. It was called back because of an illegal formation penalty. Had it stood, it would have been the longest play to ever start a Super Bowl. The NFC Championship and Super Bowl both are the major indicator of what is to come in 2013.

The 49ers were able to create mismatches for Davis through motions, shifts and by using different formations. There aren’t many defensive backs or linebackers that can match up with Davis. On a few occasions, teams have used their best cornerback to cover him. This is something that won’t be able to happen as much now since Michael Crabtree has emerged as a weapon and Anquan Boldin is a proven threat.

And that will create an abundance of opportunities for Davis.

Davis has spoken at length about how important it is to have the right chemistry with the quarterback. Unfortunately, that chemistry takes a while to be built. It wasn’t that Kaepernick was not looking for him. Rather it was Kaepernick wasn’t forcing the ball. The chemistry was fully on display against the Falcons and Ravens in the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. The two will also have a full training camp and offseason in place to get on the same page this year, which will make the end result a thing of beauty.