A few days ago, I started these posts with a look at our fans' confidence levels in Alex Smith, and then followed that up with a look at Frank Gore. The ratings for Smith were mixed, but still favored the High and Very High levels. With Gore, it was almost unanimously very high and high. The reasons for picking high instead of very high were generally due to the team having more talent to share the ball with on offense.
Which brings me to starting tight end Vernon Davis. Widely regarded as a colossal failure his first three seasons (with a bit of false hope sprinkled in), many fans had their fingers on their collective "bust" buttons. I don't actually have a "bust" button, but you know what I mean. It was just about to cut bait as opposed to continue fishing. But something happened, something went down in his head and just clicked.
It seemed to happen right after Mike Singletary banished him to the locker room mid-game and layeth the smacketh downeth on national television. I was happy when it happened, Davis needed to shape up and that just seemed to put his head on right. Something clicked, and Davis went on to have career highs in every positive category. He caught 78 passes, good for 965 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 13 touchdowns tied an NFL record for tight ends in a single season.
Does he get 1000 yards this season? Does he break the record he now shares with Antonio Gates? Does he do nothing but get better and become the best tight end in the game (or perhaps solidifying himself as such after becoming the best last year)? Or... does he fall short? Is the hype to much and his hands go back to being crudely carved from already misshapen stone?
Very High: He'll play just as well as he did, maybe better. Vernon won't necessarily tie that record for touchdowns, it is - after all a record for a reason. It just doesn't happen all the time. But we'll say something around 8-10 touchdowns with 1000 yards. A great season, definitely top three tight end in the league.
High: No being disappointed here, be it from more successful running from Gore, or an emergence of the other receivers, Vernon looks just as dominant out there but doesn't quite get back to that mark of last season. He'll get a lot of touchdowns, even again in the 7-10 range, but his yardage will drop.
Medium: He'll be a good tight end, top half of the league, but he will have some drops. He'll get a few touchdown catches, four to six or something along those lines, his yardage will drop significantly, but he'll still be a good player. A dependable target on a team without many.
Low: 2009 was pretty much a fluke. Vernon's hands will be worse than Ted Ginn's, he'll catch a touchdown pass or three but it won't be pretty, it'll be something wide open on a play action and it will be gift-wrapped. He'll have a good game or two but he'll be largely ineffective and mostly irrelevant.
Very Low: On par with that Becht fellow in Arizona. Yeah, the really bad one.