SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Tight end Vernon Davis #85 of the San Francisco 49ers is unable to make a catch against cornerback Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
One of my biggest gripes this season has been the lacking play out of San Francisco's tight ends. While Delanie Walker has stepped up his blocking game something fierce and I suppose Justin Peele has done well in that regard, these guys have been mostly invisible in the passing game. Now, I had planned to lay into Vernon Davis particularly badly today, but his second-half receptions in which he got his feet down in-bounds have dulled that desire.
Davis has done the opposite of catch those passes all season long, and on top of that, hasn't laid out for a single catch this season. In all actuality, there might be one or two to the contrary, but I personally can't remember them (good covering your ass, James!), at any rate. He's just having such a down year. On top of that, Walker hasn't caught a pass in six games now, while being targeted at least eight times. That is to say, he was targeted eight times before last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jump for more.
A possible explanation that I explored yesterday was sort of glossed over and I wanted to open it up for discussion again. This offseason, there were only a couple of 49ers coaches that I wanted to stick around. Jim Tomsula was one of them, and he stayed. The other was tight ends coach Pete Hoener.
That was partly due to the fact that I'd witnessed Pete's coaching style multiple times and loved it, but mostly due to the fact that the San Francisco tight ends had thrived under him. Hoener was a tough, loud and very motivation-oriented coach, and I'm wondering if his absence has hurt the group of tight ends. He didn't make the cut when Jim Harbaugh brought in his own guy, and as such, Davis has had many problems this year, most of them stemming from a lapse in concentration.
I got to thinking about when Davis turned his career around - at essentially the exact moment when Mike Singletary made an example of him by sending him into the locker room. Singletary has been credited with many failures in San Francisco, but along with the development of Patrick Willis, you can't deny the fact that whatever it was he did just made Davis "click." It made him figure just about everything out. It drove him to work harder than ever, and Davis had a career year, one San Francisco desperately needed from its tight end.
And look at the coaching style of Hoener - it bears a lot of similarities to Singletary, no? Maybe that's just the kind of coach Davis needs, and without him, he's lapsing back into the guy that drew the ire of each and every one of us before he turned his career around. Some of you may have forgotten how bad Davis was for the first couple seasons here, but I haven't. I was at a point where I wanted him gone. I'm slowly becoming more and more upset with him. So what do you think, is it because of the absence of Pete?